It’s been rumored for months, but now it’s official. Beyoncé Knowles-Carter will star in The Lion King, as confirmed by The Walt Disney Studios in a complete cast announcement. The superstar actress and singer will play Nala, opposite Donald Glover’s (Spider-Man: Homecoming) Simba.
As soon as director Jon Favreau proved he could tell a great story and produce a mega box office hit with photo-realistic animals in 2016’s The Jungle Book, it was inevitable that Disney would use that same technology, and the same director in Favreau, to reimagine its 1994 animated classic. Favreau even had an impressive opening sequence to show at D23 Expo back in July.
We’ve already known about Glover and the return of James Earl Jones as Mufasa, but today we have the full cast. The previously reported casting of Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen as Timon and Pumbaa, respectively, has been confirmed while Chiwetel Ejiofor (Doctor Strange) has been selected to bring the menacing Scar back to life in this new telling.
Rounding out the cast, which includes a few Marvel alumni in addition to Glover and Ejiofor, are Alfre Woodard (Captain America: Civil War, Luke Cage) as Sarabi, John Oliver as Zazu, John Kani (Captain America: Civil War) as Rafiki, Eric André as Azizi, Florence Kasumba (Captain America: Civil War) as Shenzi, Keegan-Michael Key as Kamari, JD McCray as Young Simba, and Shahadi Wright Joseph as Young Nala.
The Lion King hits theaters July 19, 2019.
For more on The Lion King, see the full press release below.
BURBANK, Calif. (Nov. 1, 2017) – 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 WarsStory”) 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 Party,” “Neighbors”) 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 City,” Marvel 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.
ABOUT THE MOVIE:
From Disney Live Action, director Jon Favreau’s all-new “The Lion King” journeys to the African savanna where a future king is born. Simba idolizes his father, King Mufasa, and takes to heart his own royal destiny. But not everyone in the kingdom celebrates the new cub’s arrival. Scar, Mufasa’s brother—and former heir to the throne—has plans of his own. The battle for Pride Rock is ravaged with betrayal, tragedy and drama, ultimately resulting in Simba’s exile. With help from a curious pair of newfound friends, Simba will have to figure out how to grow up and take back what is rightfully his. The all-star cast includes Donald Glover as Simba, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter as Nala, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar, James Earl Jones as Mufasa, Billy Eichner as Timon and Seth Rogen as Pumbaa. Utilizing pioneering filmmaking techniques to bring treasured characters to life in a whole new way, “The Lion King” roars into theaters on July 19, 2019.