Jon Favreau’s upcoming remake of The Lion King has been lining up an impressive cast, and today Disney announced that Beyoncé herself will be playing Nala, the love interest for the film’s main character, Simba (Donald Glover). The film will also feature Chiwetel Ejiofor as Scar, James Earl Jones as Mufasa, and Alfre Woodard as Sarabi. Actors like John Oliver, Billy Eichner, Seth Rogen, and Eric André round out the cast.
Disney’s trend of turning its animated classics into live-action remakes has been a steady part of the studio’s output for years now, with everything from Alice in Wonderland to Beauty and the Beast getting the treatment. But Jon Favreau’s 2016 adaption of The Jungle Book stood out by combining live-action elements along with near-photorealistic computer-generated animals and environments. The result was a technological marvel that felt like it could stand on its own, apart from the nostalgia-fueled interest many of the other remakes have tended to thrive on.
It’s that same approach that the filmmaker is applying to The Lion King. The original film, released in 1994, tells the story of Simba, a young lion who is destined to become ruler of the animal kingdom — only to have his villainous uncle intervene. The film won two Academy Awards, and in the decades since has become a modern Disney classic, earning theatrical re-releases in both IMAX and 3D. Given that Favreau’s new version will be iterating upon the achievements of The Jungle Book, it will no doubt be an incredible achievement in terms of visuals and effects — with a diverse cast of stars delivering performances to match. The Lion King will arrive in theaters on July 19th, 2019.