Are you a Lion King fan?
If so, you gotta see See Disney’s “They Lion King” in theaters, July 19th!
Last week, my daughter and I headed to the Montage hotel in Beverly Hills to meet with the sensational cast of Disney’s, The Lion King. In celebration of the new film, Clarissa and I jammed out to Donald Glover’s and Beyonce’s music on our way up to in the car. Not only because these are our favorite musicians, but they are also the voice talent in this upcoming new film!
Thank you Disney Studios for inviting me to screen “The Lion King” and attend the Press Junket. All opinions are my own.
The talent in attendance were: Donald Glover (voice of “Simba”), Seth Rogen (voice of “Pumbaa”), Billy Eichner (voice of “Timon”), Chiwetel Ejiofor (voice of “Scar”), Alfre Woodard (voice of “Sarabi”), Keegan-Michael Key (voice of “Kamari”), Florence Kasumba (voice of “Shenzi”), Eric Andre (voice of “Azizi”), John Kani (voice of “Rafiki”), JD McCrary (voice of “Young Simba”), Shahadi Wright Joseph (voice of “Young Nala”), Director Jon Favreau, Composer Hans Zimmer, and Lebo M (AfricanMusic Consultant / Performer)
Below are some of my favorite excerpts from last week’s press junket!
A woman dressed in traditional African clothing slowly raised her arms. The room silent stood still, and then a harmonious choir began to sing. It was surreal.
Lebo M and Carmen Twillie surprised the room, by singing some belting recognizable iconic notes, “Circle of Life”. The two moved their feet in sync and their hearts were connected to every lyric they sang. It was mind blowing, and my tears were flowing uncontrolabley…
After this memorable and heartwarming performance, we were introduced to the cast by the moderator. “Just look at this stage. There’s so many names up here. Everyone up here is so accomplished.”
Disney’s upcoming film journeys to the African savanna where a future king is born. Simba idolizes his father, King Mufasa, and takes to heart his own royal destiny. But not everyone in the kingdom celebrates the new cub’s arrival. Scar, Mufasa’s brother—and former heir to the throne—has plans of his own. The battle for Pride Rock is ravaged with betrayal, tragedy and drama, ultimately resulting in Simba’s exile. With help from a curious pair of newfound friends, Simba will have to figure out how to grow up and take back what is rightfully his. The all-star cast includes Donald Glover as Simba, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter as Nala, James Earl Jones as Mufasa, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar, Seth Rogen as Pumbaa and Billy Eichner as Timon, and utilizes pioneering filmmaking techniques to bring treasured characters to life in a whole new way.
MODERATOR: And then how long did you work on the film? Because I saw the
footage at Cinemacon two years ago. And then you slowly teased it out to the
world and it broke the Internet with 224 million views in the first 24 hours when
folks got to see what I got to see two years ago. So how long have you been
working on this now? JON FAVREAU: I’ve been working about three years on this one. And a lot of
them have been working for the same amount of time. Because they came in
back when it was pencils. So it was a huge leap of faith for this fantastic cast we
have. And of course musically, Lebo M and Han Zimmer, who were so involved
with the first one to trust that it would turn out well. It was a big leap of faith for
everybody. And in many cases, they kept coming back and recording again and
trying new things, especially with the comedy bits.
MODERATOR: Yeah. I heard your son was very excited to just be able to see it.
What did you tell him going into it? You’re like, just so you know, daddy is Simba.
DONALD GLOVER: I didn’t tell him anything. I really didn’t. It’s his favorite
movie. I was like oh, I’ll just wait until he gets there. But somehow he found out
about it, but still didn’t know I was in it. He was just like oh, the one with Beyonce.
And then during the movie, he’s like oh, dad’s in it, too. This is great. Bonus. You
Seth Rogan always makes me laugh. He doesn’t even need to try. He’s is just hilarious!
MODERATOR: It’s really amazing. Again, people are going to want it. So
Disney, make it happen. Billy and Seth, you guys robbed every scene last night
and stole every scene last night. It was completely hilarious. I couldn’t hear a lot
of your dialogue, because people were laughing over it. So I just kind of have to
ask you guys. How much was you and how much did y’all just pull out as you
were going through it?
SETH ROGEN: Yeah. Okay. I’ll start. It was a lot of improvisation with Billy.
Yeah. And we were actually together every time that we recorded, which is a
very rare gift to have as someone who is trying to be funny in an animated film, of
which I’ve done a lot, and you’re often just alone in there. And I think you can
really tell that we’re playing off of each other. It’s an incredibly naturalistic feeling.
And they really captured Billy. That is what is amazing. I would say, he
essentially played himself on a TV show for years. And this character is more
Billy than that character somehow. It’s like endlessly, it’s remarkable to me how
his character specifically makes me laugh so hard.
MODERATOR: Okay, so JD, you grabbed the mic. So tell us about the video
JD MCCRARY: It was so cool. It’s like watching your favorite movie, but
everything, like you’re in it. You’re in the movie. That’s exactly what it was. You
did an amazing job with this. So it was me and Shahadi and Mr. Favreau. We put
on the headsets, we had these little controller things in our hands, and we could
fly. It was like we were Zazu. We were birds. We were whatever we wanted to
be. And we saw everything. We saw the Pridelands. We saw Pride Rock. We
saw the watering hole. We saw the elephant graveyard. We saw it all, man. And
it was so cool, dude. It was so cool.
Disney never disappoints at these junkets, and I always look forward to them. There were many laughs and memorable moments at this press conference. This movie is a wonderful entry into the world of CG photorealism, along with a proper homage to the unseen beauty of Africa!