One of the most celebrated movies in the world, The Lion King is soon coming back into our lives in a huge way, as Disney Channel and Disney Junior are gearing up for a TV movie sequel, The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar, which will lead the way to a brand new TV series, The Lion Guard. Casting has mostly been completed for the projects, and they will bring in voice actors both new to the franchise, such as Rob Lowe, and some that are quite familiar, like James Earl Jones.
For a little background, The Lion Guard will center on Simba and Nala’s second-born son, Kion, who becomes the leader of the titular group, known for their protective skills. But instead of going with the biggest badasses in the land, Kion tasks his friends that he knows are intelligent and exhibit truly heroic merits. Now let’s take a look at who will be filling this world.
Rob Lowe, last seen reprising the role of Chris Traeger on the Parks and Recreation finale, will be the voice of Simba, a role first taken by Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Matthew Broderick. It’s not clear just how prominent in the story Simba will be, but Lowe should be a solid fit, as he’s also lending his voice to the upcoming series Moonbeam City and the upcoming feature Monster Trucks.
Currently the star of the BET drama Being Mary Jane, Gabrielle Union will play Simba’s wife Nala, a role voiced by Niketa Calame and Moira Kelly in the original film. Union hasn’t done a lot of voice work over the years, with appearances on The Proud Family and Family Guy, but she did work on the Jungle Book spinoff series Jungle Cubs for a couple of episodes in the 1990s. That’s good Disney synergy.
Reprising his role as the stoic and ever-respectable Mufasa, the father of Simba and grandfather of Kion, is James Earl Jones, who has arguably one of the most memorable voices in all of pop culture. He did, after all, give Darth Vader his iconic voice, and Jones brought that role back for Disney recently in Star Wars Rebels.
An actor that doesn’t do a whole lot of live-action acting these days, Ernie Sabella will also be returning to the Lion King franchise to reprise his role of the fart-friendly warrior warthog Pumbaa, a part that he’s kept up with for most (if not all) of its incarnations over the years in shows like House of Mouse and Find Out Why, as well as video games. You might recognize him as the naked subway guy from Seinfeld.
And according to THR, the lead role of Kion will be voiced by Max Charles, most recognizable from shows like The Neighbors and The Strain. Charles was also young Peter Parker in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and has lent his voice to series such as Adventure Time, The Legend of Korra and Harvey Beaks.
Now to round out the rest of the cast. The wisecracking meercat Timon will be voiced by Kevin Sochon, who has played the part in all of the sequels and spinoff series. The mandrill Rafiki will be played by Teen Titans’ Khary Payton. The Adventures of Puss in Boots’ Joshua Rush will play Kion’s best friend and fearless honey badger Bunga. Atticus Shaffer, from The Middle, will voice an intellectual egret named Ono. Sofia the First actress Diamond White will voice a brave cheetah named Fuli. And Blaze and the Monster Machines actor Dusan Brown will play a happy-go-lucky hippo named Beshte. Other roles will be voiced by Modern Family’s Sarah Hyland and All My Children’s Eden Riegel.
The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar will hit Disney this November, with the subsequent series premiering on Disney Channel and Disney Junior in early 2016. Head to the next page to check out the first clip from the full-length sequel.