The cast of Disney's remake of The Lion King has a phenomenal cast. It's so big that one has to assume that some fairly huge names probably auditioned and didn't get the job. That's the premise of a sketch from this weekend's Saturday Night Live that sees numerous other celebrities audition for key roles. Names include the likes of Lin-Manuel Miranda, LL Cool J, and Nick Offerman. Check it out.
The Saturday Night Live audition video is a tried and true part of their repertoire and this video for The Lion King is a solid entry. The general idea shows various celebrities, impersonated by the cast, turning a well-known film character into something much more like the persona of the person being impersonated. This leads to a rapping Simba when being performed by Lin-Manuel Miranda and a Pumba who mostly just mugs for the camera when Kenan Thompson does his best LL Cool J. We even get a glimpse at what John Oliver might actually sound like, since he's actually been cast in the new movie.
To be fair, there are a few celebrities impersonated here who might not have been terrible choices, at least to consider, for the roles in The Lion King. Since the film will be done primarily with CGI animation one assumes there were not actual screen tests, and whether or not there were actual auditions, Disney surely had several potential casting ideas for each character. The names included in the Saturday Night Live sketch are designed to be extreme examples because that makes them funnier, see the routinely stoic Nick Offerman in a screen test for a role as a hyena. At the same time, if we actually knew who else was on the shortlist for the roles, that would probably make a pretty solid SNL sketch on its own.
The actual cast list for The Lion King is impressive in its own right, with names like Donald Glover, Beyonce, Seth Rogan, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and even James Earl Jones, reprising his role from the animated classic as Mufasa. Everything about the remake is shaping up to be as big as the original animated film was. The Lion King is one of the biggest hits that Disney animation has ever seen. One gets the distinct impression that the recent remake of The Jungle Book was really just a proof of concept to see if a CGI remake of The Liong King would work. It's not really a "live-action" remake, since the entire film will be done in CGI, as there isn't a single human character in the story. Instead, it's really just "another" animated version of the story, just one using a very different style.
The Lion King is set for release on July 19 of 2019.