It’s been 22 years since Disney’s ‘The Lion King’ hit the big screen – that’s an entire generation of 90’s children who watched, sang, cried and cheered their way through Simba’s story. However, the events in the movie only covered Simba’s childhood and early adulthood, ending with the revival of the royal line.
Like any excited child, we all asked “and then what happened?” but, excluding a second attempted coup in ‘The Lion King 2’, fans don’t have much to go on when it comes to life in the Pride Lands under Simba’s rule.
Until now, that is.
With the upcoming release of Disney’s ‘The Lion Guard’ on the Disney Channels, it’s time for a quick refresher on the original movie. Plus, it’s a great excuse to watch it all over again (with your kids of course!), impart some interesting facts about the movie and have them think you are the coolest parent around!
If you don’t already know, what starts out on the drawing board often gets revised and the finished product is often drastically different from what was envisioned. Here are just 10 examples of how these behind-the-scenes changes led to some amazing results that made ‘The Lion King’ simply awesome.
1. The iconic opening scene almost never happened.
We all know and love that dramatic vocalisation that marks the beginning of ‘The Lion King’ – the first note of ‘Circle of Life’ is electrifying but that wasn’t part of the plan. Thankfully, when the directors heard the final score by award-winning composer Hans Zimmer, they scrapped their original idea of using nothing more than a dialogue involving most of the main characters. Phew!
2. The actors who formed the perfect pair, Timon and Pumbaa, initially auditioned for different parts.
Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella were asked to audition for the roles of the hyenas, Banzai and Shenzi. However, the directors loved their chemistry and rapport so much that they were cast as Timon and Pumbaa instead. Meanwhile, the hyenas were voiced by Cheech Marin and Whoopi Goldberg.
3. The first choice for Mufasa’s deep, dignified voice was Sean Connery.
Hard to imagine isn’t it? James Earl Jones (best known as the voice of Star Wars’ Darth Vader) got the part instead (which he reprises in The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar! Yay!)
4. ‘Can you feel the love tonight’ was originally intended as a comical duet between Timon and Pumbaa.
Can you imagine ‘The Lion King’ without that romantic Simba-and-Nala-in-the-moonlight scene?
5. Simba’s ‘I Just Can’t Wait to Be King’ was supposed to be sung by Mufasa as ‘To Be King’.
Yet another change in the musical line-up gave us Simba’s fun number, filled with comical imagery.
6. In early versions of the story, Scar and Mufasa were not related.
Scar was supposed to be a loner but making him Mufasa’s brother added a highly personal and much more dramatic dimension to their relationship.
The research team’s guide in Africa used the phrase often; when they returned, everyone agreed it was a lot better than singing about bugs!
8. The studios were temporarily closed in 1994 due to an earthquake; as a result, much of the film was finished in the various artists’ homes.
Not that fans could tell the difference – ‘The Lion King’ is the highest-grossing hand-drawn animated feature of all time!
9. Timon’s most memorable line, “What do you want me to do? Dress in drag and do the hula?” was improvised by Nathan Lane.
Sometimes, something completely original and unplanned for makes its way into the final cut.
10. After 15 iterations of lyrics for ‘Can you feel the love tonight’, the Oscar-winning version sung by Elton John was the first one!
Now that we’ve whetted your appetite for The Lion King (remember to watch it with your kids!), mark your calendars for The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar on Disney Channel (Astro Channel 615) at 11.00am on Sunday, 20 March.
You can also catch the channel premiere of The Lion Guard series, premiering on Disney Channel at 8.30am on Sunday, 17 April and follow Kion and his friends as they learn to use their respective skills to protect the Pride Lands!