The Lion King 1994 vs 2019 cast is a tough showdown to consider, but we’re diving in.
Loss and strength are integral to this Hamlet-inspired tale of trouble in the animal kingdom, and since its release, many have used it to help cope with their own grief. Its messages are timeless and universal, but another major reason that the film works so wonderfully is the stellar cast at its core.
All of the voice actors did a phenomenal job; do the 2019 bunch hit the right notes?
Simba and Nala through the ages
The film chronicles both Simba and Nala from birth, infancy and all the way to adulthood. Although animated, the voice-actors lent the pair potent chemistry that hooked audiences back in the nineties.
In their youth, they were voiced by Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Niketa Calame-Harris to great effect. In the 2019 reimagining, on the other hand, JD McCrary (Little) and Shahadi Wright Joseph (Us) take over, respectively.
Both duos did a terrific job, but it’s the characters years later that caught our attention. In the 1994 version, they were voiced by Matthew Broderick and Moira Kelly as adults.
Amazingly, the new stars – Donald Glover (of Childish Gambino fame) and Beyoncé – have taken the crown with their winning turns. Arguably, this is one of the best casting decisions of the year.
Timon and Pumbaa
Another winning decision is the casting Billy Eichner (Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising) in the role of Timon and Seth Rogen (Long Shot) as his trusted sidekick Pumbaa.
Although their appearance proved rather controversial when first glimpsed, the vocal performances are sure to win over sceptics.
Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella’s performances in the 1994 original are pretty iconic, but under the circumstances, they’ve done a great job of finding fitting counterparts.
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Chiwetel Ejiofor has amazed audiences in such efforts as 12 Years a Slave and Dirty Pretty Things, and he’ll continue to impress as Scar, the big bad wolf of the kingdom.
It’s a solid casting choice, but let’s be honest, nothing will ever top Jeremy Irons’ unforgettable achievement in the 2019 remake’s predecessor.
It just can’t be done!
The casting of John Oliver (Last Week Tonight with John Oliver) as the red-billed hornbill Zazu was a small stroke of genius.
Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean) was perfect in the original, but as far as replacements go, Oliver’s standing-in feels less of a compromise and more an absolute treat.
Both are excellent choices – perhaps too similar to knock.
Although Mufasa still comes to us courtesy of the irreplaceable James Earl Jones, all of the other characters have undergone swift change.
The maniacal hyenas of the original were voiced by Whoopi Goldberg (Girl, Interrupted), Cheech Marin (Coco) and Jim Cummings (Shrek). Again, it’s solid casting, but their replacements will have you howling.
In the 2019 retelling, they’re voiced by Florence Kasumba (Black Panther), Eric André (Disenchantment) and Keegan-Michael Key (Keanu). Honestly, the recent casting may just be that little bit better; if you don’t agree, you’d have to admit, it’s certainly very close.
In other news, check out these Spider-Man: Far From Home filming locations.