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Disney's upcoming live-action take on the classic Lion King is certainly going to be packed with nostalgia, CGI animated spectacle, and a star-studded cast. With Donald Glover, Beyoncé, Seth Rogen, and more bringing to life the 1994 original, Jon Favreau's remake will likely demonstrate how storytelling can be reimagined in the digital age.
For their first May issue, Entertainment Weekly came with a Lion King cover story profiling the host of talent featured within. Favreau explained the level of excitement he anticipates, and how the cast will deliver. “It’s almost like we’re relaunching a classic stage piece, casting it in a way that brings a new spin to it and makes it exciting and interesting,” he explained.
Donald Glover, who voices adult Simba, similarly feels the film will deliver a strong modernized take. "[The Lion King is] a timeless story, but I think the way Favreau has constructed it, it’s a very timely story as well,” Glover said. "I just wanted to be a part of a global good."
Rather than highlighting the soundtrack, which Favreau notes other entries in the series have focused on, the director brought on Glover and Beyoncé to flex their performative skills—heightening the film's modern appeal—rather than their musical clout.
"[One thing] I didn’t do for Jungle Book is double-down on the music and find people who were going to reinterpret this and bring something new and fresh to it," Favreau continued. "Each iteration of The Lion King seems to bring its own spin to the music while still feeling related to what we all connect to as The Lion King. And so having Donald Glover and Beyoncé involved, not trying to create new songs but trying to build on what people remember and love about the old ones, has been really fun and formative."
In terms of the technology used to realize the CGI, Glover noted that the director's methods of bringing together new and old tools was truly impressive. "It was really amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it. To be able to have that type of mobility in an actual world is the first of its kind, I think. How he melded new and old tech was really inspiring."
In addition to Glover, Beyoncé, and Rogen, several other entertainment notables will bring the circle of life back to the big screen, including Billy Eichner, Alfre Woodard, Chiwetel Ejiofor, John Oliver, and 88-year-old James Earl Jones returning as the voice of Mufasa. The Lion King hits theaters July 19.