Beyonce to join cast of ‘The Lion King’ remake

FILE - In this Nov. 4, 2016 file photo, Beyonce performs at a Get Out the Vote concert for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in Cleveland. Beyonce Knowles-Carter is joining the cast of “The Lion King” to voice to role of Nala. (Andrew Harnik, File/AP)

On Wednesday, Nov. 1, Disney announced the official cast of The Lion King remake, which includes Donald Glover and Beyoncé Knowles. There has been much speculation over the past year regarding the actors who were going to be involved in this epic project, but Disney put all rumors to rest with their official statement via Twitter that day, which included the cast’s pictures alongside character names.

Glover, also known as popular rapper Childish Gambino, will be playing Simba as an adult and was one of the first cast members to be announced in early 2017 by director Jon Favreau. The return of James Earl Jones to his role as the original Mufasa was also announced in February of this year.

While Glover’s largest claim to fame might be his music, he is no stranger to acting, having appeared in a wide range of television shows and movies including “Community,” “Girls,” “Atlanta,” “30 Rock,” “The Lazarus Effect,” “Magic Mike XXL,” “The Martian,” “Spiderman: Homecoming” and the upcoming franchise film “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”

Beyoncé claiming the role of the lioness Nala was rumored for a long time. Beyoncé also took to social media to announce her involvement, posting about it on Facebook alongside Disney’s tweet. Director Favreau told Variety that the singer was his first pick for the role.

Beyoncé has starred in other movies, which many people tend to overlook, including “Austin Powers,” “The Pink Panther,” “Dreamgirls” and the animated film “Epic.”

As this movie remake looms on the horizon, one has to look back on the Disney favorite. “The Lion King,” while potentially emotionally scarring for young children of all generations, brought with it some excellent humor and unforgettable music. Let’s admit it, Beyoncé and Childish Gambino singing “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” is exactly the collaboration that no one knew they needed.

Also announced to star in the film alongside Glover and Beyoncé are Chiwetel Ejiofor (best known for “Love Actually” and “Doctor Strange”) as Scar, comedian Seth Rogen as Pumba, British comedian John Oliver as Zazu, Alfre Woodard as Simba’s mother Sarabi, Billy Eichner as Timon and John Kani as Rafiki. The three mischievous hyenas, Azizi, Shenzi and Kamari will be played by Eric André, Florence Kasumba and Keegan Michael-Key, respectively. Newcomers JD McCrary and Shahadi Wright Joseph will be playing young Simba and young Nala, respectively.

Critics of the unmade movie are praising Disney’s nearly entirely black casting of the film.

“The Lion King” remake will draw on physical elements from the actors, much as Favreau did with the 2016 film “The Jungle Book,” which also saw big names voicing photorealistic computer-generated animals.

“It is a director's dream to assemble a talented team like this to bring this classic story to life,” Favreau said in a press statement.

It is unknown why Disney didn’t try to bring back more of the original 1994 castmates other than Jones or whether the movie will take a completely new direction than the first film. “The Lion King” is set to be released in 2019.


Julia Mancini is the associate life editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at Julia.mancini@uconn.edu.