Donald Glover, the modern cultural polymath that he is, will add The Lion King remake to his resume. Director Jon Favreau just tapped the prodigious Atlanta creator and soon-to-be young Lando Calrissian as the voice of Simba in the upcoming live-action version of the 1994 Disney classic. Favreau did so in a tweet, attaching a photo of Glover along with the famous musical line, “I just can’t wait to be king.”
The Lion King remake will be very much in the same style as The Jungle Book remake, also a Favreau production, that came out last year. That means cutting-edge CGI with share the screen with real-life environments, creating a blended reality that relies on high-profile voice acting to bring the animals to life. (The Jungle Book, to be fair, did have a human actor, Neel Sethi, as Mowgli. There are no such human characters in The Lion King, though the remake might shake things up a bit.)
Despite The Jungle Book’s sizable $175 million budget, it grossed nearly $1 billion at the box office, giving Favreau both the keys to a sequel and other lucrative Disney classics ripe for modern retelling. The live-action Beauty and the Beast featuring Emma Watson — the next Disney property primed for a big screen return — is set to debut next month.
It’s unclear if Glover will play both the young and old Simba, or simply the latter. But regardless, his relationship with Disney, which will see Glover in the upcoming Star Wars spinoff centered on a young Han Solo, is proving to be quite the boon for a comedian once best known for a network TV role.
In a follow-up tweet and an additional post on Instagram, Favreau revealed that actor James Earl Jones, of Darth Vader fame, would be reprising his role as Mufasa in The Lion King remake. Jones brought the original father of Simba to life in the 1994 animated original, and it appears that Star Wars connection for the remake has now grown that much stronger.
Update at 11:46PM ET, 2/17: Added confirmation from Favreau that James Earl Jones would be reprising his role as Mufasa.