Let's be honest: The Disney classic The Lion King, first released in 1994, has one of the most epic openings in cinematic history. The sun rises over the African savannah while a we hear a man chanting in Swahili. This opening sequence draws us into one of the most iconic Disney films ever. With the recent announcement that Jon Favreau will helm a CGI reboot of the classic movie, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to do a fan cast for it! Ready? Here we go!
Mufasa - Vin Diesel
From voicing the Iron Giant to playing Dom Toretto of the Fast and Furious franchise, Vin Diesel has pretty much done it all. The man has a great vocal range, and I think that portraying Mufasa would be no challenge for him whatsoever. Now, I love James Earl Jones as much as the next guy, but I think that if anyone could be a fitting replacement, it's Vin Diesel.
Sarabi - Cate Blanchett
Sarabi is an outstanding female character, especially after the death of Mufasa. I feel like that if anyone could pull off this role, it's Cate Blanchett. With roles like Indiana Jones' Irina Spalko and Lord of the Rings' Galadriel under her belt, (not to mention her upcoming role in Thor: Ragnarok) I feel it would not be much of a stretch for her to take on the mantle of the Lion Queen.
Young Simba - Ty Simpkins
I love Ty Simpkins as an actor. Between Jurassic World and Iron Man 3, this kid is going places. If he stays in front of a camera, he could be the next big star. But just imagine little Ty belting out the lyrics to "I Just Can't Wait To Be King"! He'd be great as young Simba, but that doesn't mean I want him to be Simba throughout the entire movie.
Adult Simba - Brett Dalton
Yup, I want Grant Ward to be Simba. Seriously, Brett Dalton would make an amazing Simba. He's got a very distinctive voice that sounds wise, but still has an edge of youth and toughness to it. I think Brett Dalton could be the perfect evolution from Ty Simpkins' younger incarnation of the character.
Young Nala - Peyton List
Now, you're probably wondering why I want this to happen. Well, here's the deal: young Nala is sassy, smart, and not afraid to tell Simba (or any other boys) who's boss, just like Peyton List. Peyton has had some great roles that would prepare her to play Nala, especially her role as Holly Hills in 2012's Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days. Peyton is a great actress, and I think putting her as the voice of young Nala is perfect casting.
Excited for the live-action Lion King? Check out...
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- Why Jon Favreau Is The Perfect Director For Disney's Reimagining Of 'The Lion King'
Adult Nala - Shantel VanSanten
Shantel VanSanten is one of my favorite actresses. Roles like Quinn James on One Tree Hill and Patty Spivot on The Flash are just a few of the reasons I think she'd make a great older version of Nala. She's a smart cookie, she's as tough as nails, and she's got a biting sarcastic wit, but she's also got a sensitive side to her as well which makes her the ideal candidate to portray Nala.
Rafiki - Morgan Freeman
Admit it, you knew Morgan Freeman would pop up in this fancast sooner or later. He's arguably one of the greatest actors of the 21st century, and definitely in my top five. But that alone doesn't make him worthy to play Rafiki. What makes Morgan Freeman the perfect candidate to play Rafiki is, in fact, not his magnificent golden pipes, but rather his ability to seamlessly jump from being silly to serious and vice versa all in a matter of seconds.
Zazu - Anthony Daniels
As I was cycling through a list of potential actors to play Zazu, my initial reaction was to cast Gilbert Gottfried, who has made played many roles, but is most commonly associated with that of Iago, Jafar's pet parrot/henchman in Disney's Aladdin. However, I realized that casting him would cause some confusion for those who remember his work in that film, so I next decided on Anthony Daniels, who is best known for his role as C-3PO in Star Wars. Anthony Daniels is a perfect choice because Zazu and C-3PO have similar personalities.
Scar - Wayne Knight
Yes, I want the guy who started all the trouble in the original Jurassic Park to bring that same level of chaos to Pride Rock. Is that really too much to ask? Wayne Knight is a fantastic actor, as proven by his live action roles, as well as his voice roles, such as Zurg in Buzz Lightyear of Star Command and Al from Al's Toy Barn in Toy Story 2. I also want this to happen just because I want to see him taunting the hyenas with meat before saying "Ah, ah, ah. You didn't say the magic word!"
Now I know what you're thinking. You think Scar needs to be a suave, loquacious, sneaky British guy. And as much as I love Jeremy Irons, I really want to see Wayne Knight take a crack at menacing the Pridelands. Knight could use his somewhat deeper voice (like Evil Emperor Zurg in Buzz Lightyear of Star Command) and still bring the same level of menace to the role without the British accent.
Timon - Paul Rudd
After some of his comedic roles in productions like Wet Hot American Summer and Marvel's comedic superhero heist film Ant-Man, I think that casting Paul Rudd as Timon should be a no-brainer. It's obvious that Rudd has great comedic acting chops, and I think, with the right partner, he would be our perfect snarky meerkat.
Pumbaa - Kevin Hart
Yes, I know that Kevin Hart's new best buddy is Dwayne Johnson, but can you honestly tell me that Kevin Hart and Paul Rudd as Timon and Pumbaa isn't a match made in heaven? These two are both funny guys, and I think they could potentially have great chemistry on screen, possibly even more so than Kevin Hart has with his Jumanji and Central Intelligence co-star, The Rock.
Kevin Hart's casting would add some racial diversity to the cast, while at the same time bringing the charm and star power needed to make the movie work. While Pumbaa has a famously raspy voice, Kevin Hart would bring a different (but equally humorous) approach to the character that I feel makes him worthy of the role!
I loved The Lion King, and I'm excited that it's getting a remake. I think this cast is the perfect way to preserve the spirit of the original and yet also pass the torch to a new and younger generation. But if you don't agree with my casting, I have two words for you: HAKUNA MATATA!
Do you want to see a Lion King film with this cast? Comment below!