#Disney fans have been delighted since Jon Favreau, director of the upcoming live-action The Lion King remake, revealed the film's first two cast members: #DonaldGlover as Simba and James Earl Jones, reprising his iconic role as Mufasa.
Of course, Jones' casting has raised another question: will other cast members from the original animated film reprise their roles? Should they? Let's take a look at how likely it is that they will have a role in the remake.
Jonathan Taylor Thomas And Niketa Calame As Young Simba And Nala
These are the two that will definitely not reprise their original roles, if only because they are now too old to believably play children. If Jonathan Taylor Thomas is up for it, though, it may be a fun idea to throw in a cameo for him somewhere.
Rowan Atkinson As Zazu
Zazu, a small bird who acts as Mufasa's chief adviser, was voiced by Mr. Bean star Rowan Atkinson in the original film. Though not necessarily one of the film's central characters, Zazu features heavily in a few key scenes, such as the "I Just Can't Wait To Be King" musical sequence, and Mufasa's rescue of Simba and Nala from the Hyenas. In more recent Special Editions of the film, the character performs his own song, "The Morning Report."
While Atkinson's performance as Zazu is certainly a lot of fun, it is not as seemingly irreplaceable as some of the others in the film. Zazu could be an interesting character to recast, as fans probably have the fewest preconceptions about who he needs to be.
Moira Kelly As Adult Nala
Moira Kelly provided the voice of the adult Nala — Simba's best friend and, later, love interest — in all three Lion King films.
Seeing as Simba has already been recast for the remake, it seems unlikely that Kelly will return. Nala will almost certainly be recast too. In that case, the producers are likely looking for an actress who will have decent chemistry with Donald Glover.
Nathan Lane And Ernie Sabella As Timon And Pumbaa
Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella voiced young Simba's unlikely guardians, Timon the Meerkat and Pumbaa the Warthog, in all three Lion King films. The third film, a midquel titled The Lion King 1 1/2: Hakuna Matata, features Timon and Pumbaa as its central characters, chronicling the pair's adventures finding a new home and later raising Simba.
The characters represent somewhat of a conundrum when it comes to recasting. If Lane and Sabella want to return, great — they're almost synonymous with the roles. If not, this could be an awesome chance for a new comedic duo to take the spotlight.
Robert Guillame As Rafiki
The wise baboon Shaman, who presented Simba to the world and later helps guide his way home, Rafiki was voiced by Robert Guillame in all three films. Guillame also reprised the role of Rafiki for multiple episodes of the Timon & Pumbaa animated series.
This is a tough one. While Guillame's portrayal of Rafiki is iconic, and many would love to see him back, the producers could choose to go the way of the stage musical and recast Rafiki as female. While the latter choice could be controversial, it is not necessarily wrong.
Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech Marin And Jim Cummings as Shenzi, Banzai And Ed
Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech Marin and Jim Cummings voice Scar's hyena sidekicks in the original film. All three reprized their roles in The Lion King 1 1/2 (the hyenas are mentioned, but do not appear, in The Lion King 2).
If the remake is going to bring any of the Hyenas back, make it Whoopi as Shenzi. Otherwise, just let the filmmakers go nuts with a few fun casting decisions.
Jeremy Irons As Scar
While Mufasa's evil younger brother, Scar, voiced by #JeremyIrons, only had a starring role in one of the Lion King films, the character certainly made an impression. Scar is one of the most beloved Disney villains of all time, and "Be Prepared" frequently tops lists of the best Disney villain songs.
Of all the original voice actors besides James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons is the one whom Favreau should nab if he can. His performance as Scar would be a nearly impossible act to follow.
The truth is, Favreau and the rest of the team working on this remake have a very hard challenge ahead of them. The original The Lion King was about as perfect as you could expect an animated film to be, and is near universally loved. Many fans are understandably nervous, but Favreau has proven his chops with last year's #TheJungleBook remake. As long as he keeps to the story and spirit of the original film, we can't hope for much more.