James Earl Jones, Hans Zimmer, and Elton John are the only people who worked on the original animated film that reprise their respective roles, as the voice of Mufasa, the composer of the film, and songwriter.
Billy Eichner (Timon) and Seth Rogen (Pumbaa) recorded their lines together, much like how Nathan Lane (Timon's original animated counterpart) and Ernie Sabella (Pumbaa's original animated counterpart) did so in the original 1994 animated film, as well as in its direct-to-video/DVD sequel and midquel.
The hyenas Shenzi, Kamari and Azizi are named after the Swahili words for "savage," "mighty" and "moonlight." Kamari and Azizi were originally named Banzai and Ed in the 1994 animated film, but were given African names for this film.
Disney has never marketed its 2019 "The Lion King" as "live-action." Numerous media outlets have persisted in incorrectly representing the film as live-action since the day its production was announced in 2016. The press revived this incorrect description in their coverage following the Nov 2018 teaser-trailer's release despite its obvious use of computer animation. This has prompted widespread confusion about the term "live-action." The media's and other laymen's confusion may be attributable to a lack of awareness of the technical term "photorealistic" and the novelty of the film's production technologies. Animation artists and animated-film industry experts describe the animation style as "photorealistic CGI". The film's Virtual Production Supervisor Girish Balakrishnan says the film is not live action per se, but has "a completely photorealistic live-action, yet CG, aesthetic [emphasis added]".
The hyena Azizi is slightly deranged. Azizi means "moonlight," as moonlight is associated with mental illness. Eric Andre plays Azizi in this adaptation, which is perfect because his silly style of humor is very twisted and unhinged.
Scar's villain song "Be Prepared" was originally to be left out of the film due to its Nazi themes of which the Disney executives were afraid to tackle and also because Chiwetel Ejiofor's voice was not fit for the singing. This drew a lot of ire from film critics and fans. However, the studio relented and put back the song in the film.
Hugh Jackman was rumored to voice Scar, of which was quickly denied by his representative. Nearly three weeks after this rumor, it was eventually confirmed to be Chiwetel Ejiofor, making his second time voice acting in a film after Sherlock Gnomes (2018).
Is the next live action reboot in line after Aladdin (2019). Similarly, the original animated The Lion King (1994) was the next Disney animated feature film to be released after the original animated Aladdin (1992).
In November 2017, Hans Zimmer was announced to return to compose the music for this film, as he did with the 1994 film. On a similar note, director Jon Favreau previously was able to get hold of Richard M. Sherman to compose The Jungle Book (2016) like he did so with the 1967 film.
John Kani (Rafiki) and Florence Kasumba (Shenzi) have both starred in features about the comic book hero the Black Panther T'Challa, also an African prince. Kani starred as T'Challa's father T'Chaka in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, Kasumba played Ayo in Black Panther
Unlike the 1994 original animated film, all the lions in this production are voiced by actors of African descent, whereas in the original only Mufasa, young Nala, Sarafina, and Sarabi were. This also applied to young Simba, but only with his singing voice.
Rafiki in this film is voiced by an actual African actor, being John Kani, unlike his original animated counterpart where he had been voiced by an American actor (Robert Guillaume) using a Swahili accent.
Even though James Earl Jones reprises his role as Mufasa, he is 46 years older than Chiwetel Ejiofor, who had been cast as Scar, Mufasa's younger brother, unlike in the original 1994 animated film where Jones was only 17 years older than Jeremy Irons.
Whoopi Goldberg (Shenzi in the original animated film) and Keegan-Michael Key (Kamari in the live action reboot) both voiced characters in Disney/Pixar's Toy Story franchise. Goldberg was in Toy Story 3 (2010) as Stretch the Rubbery Octopus, whilst Key was in Toy Story 4 (2019) as Ducky.
Much like with the original The Lion King (1994), many actors from this film have made appearances in Sesame Street (1969) sketches over the years, as well as in stuff related to The Muppets. Billy Eichner (Timon) and John Oliver (Zazu) have even met with some Muppets at times on their own talk shows.
Both John Oliver (Zazu in the live action reboot) and Rowan Atkinson (Zazu in the original animated film) have starred in live action films based on Hanna-Barbera cartoons. Oliver was in The Smurfs (2011) and its sequel De Smurfen 2 (2013) as Vanity Smurf, whilst Atkinson was in Scooby-Doo (2002) as Mondavarious.
In the original Matthew Broderick (Simba) was left-handed and Jeremy Irons (Scar) was right-handed, in this the it is the villian, Chiwetel Ejiofor (Scar) who is left handed and Donald Glover (Simba) who is right-handed.
Unlike the 1994 version most of the cast are African or African American. In fact Billy Eichner, Seth Rogen, and John Oliver are the only main Caucasian actors in the remake. Those three members of the main cast are the only ones not voicing any lions, hyenas, or animals with Swahili Accents.
John Oliver (Zazu in the live action reboot) previously appeared alongside Matthew Broderick (Simba in the original animated film) in Wonder Park (2019) by Paramount Animation/Nickelodeon movies four months prior. Oliver voiced Steve the Porcupine, whilst Broderick voiced June's Dad.
Though a different incarnation of those characters, this film will mark the first time that Pumbaa and Ed the Hyena (renamed Azizi in this version) will not be voiced by Ernie Sabella and Jim Cummings respectively. Sabella and Cummings had voiced their original animated counterparts in every appearance prior (films, TV series, video games, etc.) as they are replaced with Seth Rogen and Eric Andre respectively.
Seth Rogen's third voice over job in a live-action film, after The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008) (Hogsqueal) and Paul (2011) (the titular character) 11 and 8 years prior respectively. This is also his first voice over performance in a live action film to not release the same year as a film in DreamWorks Animation's Kung Fu Panda franchise, of which Rogen appeared in.
Keegan-Michael Key's fourth time voice acting in a film not distributed by Columbia Pictures, after The Lego Movie (2014) and Storks (2016), as well as his second not distributed by Warner Bros. either, after fellow Disney film Toy Story 4 (2019) released a month prior.
Both Seth Rogen (Pumbaa in the live action reboot) and experienced voice actor Jim Cummings (Ed in the original animated film) have been in films of DreamWorks Animation's Shrek franchise, both voicing captains. Cummings voiced the Captain of the Guards in the first Shrek (2001), and Rogen voiced the Ship Captain in Shrek the Third (2007).
Chiwetel Ejiofor (Scar in the live action reboot) and experienced voice actor Jim Cummings (Ed the Hyena in the original animated film, who also voiced the gopher and filled in for Jeremy Irons as Scar during the last few lyrics of the song "Be Prepared") have both been in films in the Gnomeo & Juliet Franchise on separate occasions. Cummings was in the first Gnomeo & Juliet (2011) by Disney's Touchstone Pictures label as Featherstone whilst Ejiofor was in its sequel Sherlock Gnomes (2018) by Paramount Animation as Gnome Watson.
Billy Eichner (Timon) and Keegan-Michael Key's (Kamari) second movie collaboration, after Angry Birds (2016), of which even had a sequel released the same year as this film and featured Eric Andre's on-and-off partner Hannibal Buress.
Whoopi Goldberg, Cheech Marin, Nathan Lane and Jim Cummings (Shenzi, Banzai, Timon, and Ed the hyena in the original 1994 animated film) and Seth Rogen and Beyoncé Knowles (Pumbaa and Nala) in the live action reboot have appeared in animated films by 20th Century Fox Whoopi Goldberg was in The Pagemaster (1994), Cheech Marin was in Ferngully the last Rainforest (1992), Nathan Lane and Jim Cummings were in Titan A.E. (2000), Seth Rogen was in Horton Hears a Who (2008), and Beyoncé Knowles was in Epic (2013).
Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane (Simba and Timon in the original 1994 animated film) appeared alongside Keegan-Michael Key (Banzai/Kamari in the live action reboot) in the live action American sitcom Modern Family (2009).
James Earl Jones is the only actor to reprise a role from the original 1994 animated film he reprised his role as Mufasa while Matthew Broderick was replaced with Donald Glover as Simba, Moira Kelly was replaced with Beyoncé Knowles as Nala, Nathan Lane was replaced with Billy Eichner as Timon, Ernie Sabella was replaced with Seth Rogen as Pumbaa, Robert Guillaume was replaced with John Kani as Rafiki, Rowan Atkinson was replaced with John Oliver as Zazu, the late Madge Sinclair was replaced with Alfre Woodard as Sarabi, Jeremy Irons was replaced with Chiwetel Ejiofer as Scar, Whoopi Goldberg was replaced with Florence Kasumba as Shenzi, Cheech Marin was replaced with Keegan-Michael Key as Banzai/Kamari, and Experienced Voice Actor Jim Cummings was replaced with Eric Andre as Ed/Azizi the Hyena.
In the original movie the characters to have African names are Simba, Nala, Mufasa, Sarabi, Zazu ,Rafiki, Pumbaa and Shenzi while the only ones to have Non-African names are Scar, Timon, Banzai and Ed. Scar and Timon are the only characters to have their names stay the same in the live-action remake (Scar is assumed to be a Nickname due to the Scar he has), while Banzai and Ed are the only ones to be renamed.