Who Should Play the Lead Roles in Disney’s Live-Action Lion King Remake?

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Last week, Walt Disney Pictures made the shocking announcement that they were remaking The Lion King. Director Jon Favreau, who made a splash with his live-action remake of The Jungle Book, will direct the new Lion King.

The live-action version of The Jungle Book took its inspiration from Disney’s 1967 animated version. Nonetheless, all of the voice roles were recast for the new version. That’s actually not too surprising. Most of the original voice actors have passed away in the almost 50 year gap between the two films.

The same cannot be said of The Lion King. Released in 1994, all of the animated film’s voice actors are alive and well. However, that doesn’t mean Disney and Favreau will invite them back to reprise their roles. After all, Disney is releasing a live-action version of Beauty and the Beast next year. Most of the actors from the 1991 animated version are still alive, but Disney still recast the roles for its new version.

So assuming Disney does the same for The Lion King, who should the new voice actors be? We have some suggestions:

Mustafa

Morgan Freeman in London has Fallen
Image Credit: Gramercy Pictures

Actor James Earl Jones brought the regal ruler to life in the original Lion King. Jone’s deep baritone voice has become iconic as both Mustafa and Darth Vader in Star Wars. But these days, there’s another African-American actor famous for his deep, soothing voice: Morgan Freeman.

When the original Lion King was released in 1994, Freeman had already made a name for himself with Driving Miss Daisy and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. But it was The Shawshank Redemption, also released in 1994, that made him a household name. There’s no doubt if the original film was being made today, Freeman would definitely be on the shortlist for Mustafa.

Young Simba

Jacob Tremblay in Room
Image Credit: A24

Johnathan Taylor Thomas took a break from starring on ABC’s hit sitcom Home Improvement to voice Simba in the original Lion King. While there are a lot of capable child actors around today, there’s only one that has the gravitas to bring Simba to life again.

Nine-year-old Jacob Tremblay made a splash last year when he starred with Brie Larson in the critically-acclaimed film, Room. He has the perfect voice and acting talent to perform the critical role of Simba.

 

Adult Simba

Chris Pratt in Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy
Image Credit: Disney/Marvel

Eighties heartthrob Matthew Broderick was the adult Simba in 1994’s animated Lion King and its sequels. On the new Disney Junior spin-off, The Lion Guard, actor Rob Lowe (another 80s heartthrob) takes over the role.

So who has a similar voice and talent in today’s world? Chris Pratt seems like the perfect choice. He would have to tone down the sarcastic tone he’s famous for in Guardians of the Galaxy and The Lego Movie. But he’s proven he can do more serious work with Jurassic World and the upcoming film, Passengers.

Scar

Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock
Image Credit: BBC

The original scar has an unnerving combination of class and menace. That’s mostly thanks to the talented voice of actor Jeremy Irons.

So who could fill Irons shoes? There are a couple of options. If not for his unfortunate passing earlier this year, Harry Potter actor Alan Rickman might be a good choice. Sir Ian McKellen or his friend and frequent co-star Sir Patrick Stewart could work. Both of them have a bit of an older voice that wouldn’t quite fit, though. The best actor for the new scar is likely Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch.

That does it for the major roles. So what about the supporting cast? Don’t worry — we’ll explore those in a future article.

What do you think? Any better ideas for the new cast of The Lion King? Should Disney just stick with the original cast?