Meet the Faces of 'The Lion King'

Meet the Faces of 'The Lion King'

Disney’s new film The Lion King is teeming with some of the most memorable characters you’ll meet on the big screen this year, and they're brought to life by some of today's biggest and most beloved stars. There are characters that will make you laugh (Timon! Pumbaa!), characters that will move you (Sarabi, Nala), and a few that will send shivers right through you (be prepared for Scar). Before you hit the theater–and the savannah–check out our guide to the film’s roster of characters and the voices behind them with this incredible series of portraits from Disney's The Lion King.

 

Simba (Donald Glover)

Donald Glover

Kwaku Alston. © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The Lion King is Simba's story, and what an incredible journey of self-discovery it is: He progresses from excitable cub to lost adolescent to a king-in-the-making, learning how to follow his heart along the way. Atlanta creator and Solo star Donald Glover voices adult Simba, who explores the philosophy of “hakuna matata” and faces hard truths about power, family, and responsibility.

 

Nala (Beyoncé Knowles-Carter)

The Lion King

Kwaku Alston. © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The role of Nala has been expanded for the new film, and fans should expect that the character will become an audience favorite. Adult Nala is played by Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, who sings the film’s signature song, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” with Glover. We already have chills.

 

Young Simba and Nala (JD McCrary and Shahadi Joseph Wright)

Simba and Nala

Kwaku Alston. © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

For the young cubs of The Lion King, the filmmakers turned to two up-and-coming talents. JD McCrary (Simba) is an incredibly talented singer, dancer, and actor, whom audiences will know from Oprah Winfrey Network's The Paynes. Shahadi Joseph Wright, who recently scared us silly in Jordan Peele's Us, has actually played the role of Nala on Broadway!

 

Sarabi (Alfre Woodard)

Alfre Woodard

Kwaku Alston. © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The Pride Lands’ Queen is brought to life by acclaimed actress Alfre Woodard, who is already getting awards talk for her performance in Clemency, to be released later this year. Like Nala, Sarabi’s role is said to have been expanded for the new movie.

 

Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor)

Scar

Kwaku Alston. © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Oscar nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor is The Lion King’s manipulative, murderous villain, Scar – treacherous and power-hungry uncle to Simba and brother to King Mufasa. Ejiofor has said in interviews that his Scar is a menacing, unpredictable villain, one who could pounce on his prey in mere moments.

 

Timon, Pumbaa, and Zazu (Billy Eichner, Seth Rogen, John Oliver)

]Timon, Pumbaa, Zazu

Kwaku Alston. © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

One half of The Lion King’s beloved and free-spirited comic duo, Timon is a meerkat who wants to live the chill life – and doesn’t want any “romantic atmosphere” to disrupt his plans, or lack thereof. He’s voiced by actor and comic Billy Eichner, who many may not realize has an impressive background in musical theater. The other half of the “Hakuna Matata”–singing duo is warthog Pumbaa, the slightly slower sidekick to wise-cracking Timon. Actor, writer, and producer Seth Rogen takes on the role and contributes to soundtrack highlights “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” and “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” The duo aren't the only ones bringing the laughs. Every king needs his major domo, and red-billed hornbill Zazu is the bird for the job in the Pride Lands. Cautious, overprotective, and hilariously unable to rein-in young Simba, he is voiced by This Week host John Oliver.

 

Shenzi, Azizi, and Kamari (Florence Kasumba, Eric Andre, Keegan-Michael Key)

Hyenas

Kwaku Alston. © 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

These three menacing hyenas are given their snarl by some of the freshest talents in TV, film, and comedy: Ugandan actress Florence Kasumba left an incredible impression as Ayo, a member of the Dora Milaje, in Black Panther; Keegan-Michael Key stole the show alongside partner-in-comedy Jordan Peele as Ducky in Toy Story 4; while Eric Andre’s star continues to rise on the back of his self-titled show and voice work in series like Disenchantment.

 

The Lion King is in theaters everywhere July 19 – buy tickets now.

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