Donald Glover, James Earl Jones Join ‘Lion King’ Remake

By February 19, 2017

Many fans of Disney’s The Lion King were surprised when news broke that director Jon Favreau would follow up The Jungle Book to direct a live-action remake of the 1994 blockbuster. Of course, by “live-action,” we probably should say more “photorealistic,” since it’s likely to be all-CGI.

But if our first casting news is any indication, moviegoers might want to be prepared for something special.

Donald Glover and the legendary James Earl Jones have joined the project, Favreau himself has confirmed.

Both stars have existing ties to Disney. Glover – known for his television work on Community and Atlanta – landed the role of young Lando Calrissian in the untitled Star Wars Han Solo film last fall.

Likewise, Jones has long provided the voice of Darth Vader, a role he reprised as recently as Rogue One. Of course, he also participated in the original animated version of The Lion King for the studio, making his return here a wise bit of fan service on the studio’s part.

Favreau took to his Twitter account to confirm both Glover and Jones‘ casting in the film. Although few details were given regarding the director’s fresh approach to the material, we now know Glover will play Simba, and Jones will reprise the role of Mufasa, king of Pride Rock.

Truly, one can look at Disney’s decision to revisit its old catalog of films one of two ways: On one hand, the studio is blatantly refreshing old properties to churn out guaranteed hits. Take The Jungle Book‘s $966 million worldwide gross, for instance.

The Lion King – the most financially successful release of the so-called Disney Renaissance – is sure to top this total, based on name recognition alone.

On the other hand, films like Favreau’s The Lion King (or the upcoming Beauty and the Beast) give the studio the chance to refresh these stories for a new era, using new technology and modern thinking to perhaps even make necessary changes. The casting of Glover in a role previously played by Matthew Broderick (assuming he is indeed playing the adult Simba) hints how Favreau might actually be shooting for a predominantly African-American cast for The Lion King, which makes sense given its African setting.

Moreover, Glover has indeed demonstrated a range of talent which makes him a smart choice for the role.

As for Jones, his reprisal of Mufasa demonstrates that while Disney isn’t afraid to make changes to their beloved tales, the studio also recognizes when something worked too well to tamper with the second time around. Jones’ work in the original film still remains arguably the most iconic and memorable, and his casting suddenly raises the possibility Jeremy Irons could return to voice the villainous Scar.

If any cast members are worthy of bringing back to Pride Rock, it would definitely be those two.

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Robert Yaniz Jr.

Contributing Writer at GeekNation
A professional writer since 2003 and a student of pop culture long before that, Robert has written hundreds of news articles, features and reviews on the entertainment world for various media outlets. When he's not relishing in the arts or writing about them, he can usually be found enduring the cries of his infant daughter alongside his wife.