'The Lion King' roars to life with all-star cast

The all-star lineup for director Jon Favreau’s new take on Disney’s 1994 classic animated film The Lion King includes stars from the film, TV, theater and music arenas. Featuring pioneering filmmaking techniques, the film welcomes back to the big screen iconic characters that audiences have long treasured—but in a whole new way. From Disney Live Action, The Lion King is slated for U.S. theaters on July 19, 2019.
 “It is a director's dream to assemble a talented team like this to bring this classic story to life,” said Favreau.

Lions rule the African savanna in The Lion King, which welcomes Donald Glover (Atlanta, Solo: A Star Wars Story) as future king Simba, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter (Dreamgirls,”Lemonade visual album) as Simba’s friend-turned-love interest Nala, and James Earl Jones (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Field of Dreams) as Simba’s wise and loving father, Mufasa, reprising his iconic performance from Disney’s 1994 animated classic. Chiwetel Ejiofor (Twelve Years a Slave, Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange) was called on to portray Simba’s villainous uncle Scar, and Alfre Woodard (Juanita, Marvel’s Luke Cage) portrays Simba’s no-nonsense mother, Sarabi. JD McCrary (OWN’s Tyler Perry’s The Paynes, Apple’s Vital Signs) fills the shoes of Young Simba, a confident cub who can’t wait to be king, and Shahadi Wright Joseph (NBC’s Hairspray Live, Broadway’s The Lion King) brings tough cub Young Nala to life.

Every kingdom comes with a trustworthy advisor or two. John Kani (Coriolanus, Marvel Studios’ Captain America: Civil War) was cast as the wise baboon Rafiki, and John Oliver (HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart) was tapped as hornbill Zazu, Mufasa’s loyal confidant. When Simba goes into exile, he relies on two newfound friends—Seth Rogen (Sausage PartyNeighbors) lends his comedic chops to naïve warthog Pumbaa, and Billy Eichner (Billy on the Street, FX’s American Horror Story) joins the cast as know-it-all meerkat Timon.

While most of the animals in the kingdom respect the king, the hyenas have other plans. Florence Kasumba (NBC’s Emerald CityMarvel Studios’ Black Panther) portrays Shenzi, Eric André (Adult Swim’s The Eric André Show, FXX’s Man Seeking Woman) is Azizi, and Keegan-Michael Key (Predator, Netflix’s Friends from College) plays Kamari.

The Lion King is directed by Favreau (The Jungle Book, Marvel Studios’ Iron Man) and produced by Favreau, Jeffrey Silver (Beauty and the Beast, Edge of Tomorrow”) and Karen Gilchrist (The Jungle Book, Chef). Jeff Nathanson (Catch Me If You Can, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales) penned the screenplay based on the 1994 screenplay by Irene Mecchi, Jonathan Roberts and Linda Woolverton. Tom Peitzman (co-producer Kong: Skull Island, Alice in Wonderland) and Thomas Schumacher (The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast) are executive producers, and John Bartnicki (The Jungle Book, Chef) is co-producer. The award-winning team of artists tapped to bring the African savanna and its animal inhabitants to life include visual effects supervisor Rob Legato, who conceived the virtual production on Avatar, won Academy Awards for his work on The Jungle Book, Hugo and Titanic, and was nominated for an Oscar for his work on Apollo 13.

The film’s animation supervisor is Oscar-winner Andrew R. Jones (The Jungle Book, Avatar, World War Z). VFX supervisor is Adam Valdez (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers), who won an Oscar for his work on The Jungle Book.Five-time Oscar nominee Caleb Deschanel, ASC, (Jack Reacher, The Patriot), is director of photography, and James Chinlund (War for the Planet of the Apes, Marvel’s The Avengers) serves as the production designer. Oscar winner Ben Grossman (Alice in Wonderland, Hugo, Star Trek into Darkness) is virtual production supervisor, and Mark Livolsi, ACE, (The Jungle Book, Saving Mr. Banks, The Blind Side) and Adam Gerstel (Transformers: The Last Knight, The Jungle Book) are editors. Hans Zimmer (Dunkirk, Hidden Figures), who won an Oscar for his score for the animated classic, will score the adventure.