Arts & Entertainment | November 2, 2017 9:00 am

The Live-Action ‘Lion King’ Cast Is a Stone-Cold Banger

Beyoncé. James Earl Jones. And ... Seth Rogen?

Yes, we are all experiencing Hollywood-remake fatigue.

But the Walt Disney Company, for one, is not shying away, with live-action remakes scheduled to infinity and beyond — including Tim Burton’s Dumbo and the Will-Smith-as-Genie Aladdin.

The one you should be most excited about? The Lion King, thanks to the recently announced cast that can only be described as a stone-cold banger.

Tweeted out by Disney on November 1st, the confirmed group not only features James Earl Jones reprising his role of Mufasa from the original 1994 animated movie, but renaissance man Donald Glover as Simba, and decorated actors Chiwetel Ejiofor and Alfre Woodard as Scar and Sarabi, respectively.

Also, to the delight of humans across the globe: Beyoncé as Nala. 

But that’s not all. Not even close.

The rest of the actors are just as much, if not more, of a surprise. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Keegan-Michael Key, Florence Kasumba and (for a reason that will be clear momentarily) Eric Andre will play the three hyenas. Complementing this new film’s casting of mostly black actors in a movie set in Africa, the two male hyenas’ names will be changed from Banzai and Ed to Kamari and Azizi. But if you remember the original, Ed only communicated with crazed laughter. Thus, Eric Andre.
  • Seth Rogen is Pumbaa, the tubby warthog and unsung hero also known as Mr. Pig.
  • Billy Eichner is Timon, the meerkat ambassador of “Hakuna Matata.” While Eichner relies more on yelling to communicate it, both are confident they have life figured out.
  • John Oliver is keeping the British flair in Zazu, the red-billed hornbill, as the character was originally voiced by Rowan Atkinson.

The film is slated for release on July 19th, 2019, with Jon Favreau directing. He helmed 2016’s live-action remake of The Jungle Book, and will be using similar filmmaking techniques to bring this to life. But instead of using one human in a world of CGI, there will be no human actors (sorry, but Beyoncé and the rest of actors will simply be providing their voices).

And while The Jungle Book was a financial smash, it was a little, well … complicated. Certainly not a generational classic like the original, which is the ultimate problem for these, and any, modernizations. But this all-star squad has the best chance to summit that rock.

Beyoncé photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS