SALT LAKE CITY — The actors behind Timon and Pumbaa in Disney’s “The Lion King” remake recently spoke about making their roles unique while honoring the original film.
In an interview with Variety, comedians Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen said most of their inspiration for bringing Timon and Pumbaa to life was trusting in director Jon Favreau’s decision to cast them in the first place. Eichner said Favreau cast each actor based on versions of their natural voices.
“I think I mostly had to trust that Jon cast us for a reason and just give him what I hope he wanted from that decision,” Rogen said. “But what I quickly found was he wanted us to really try and make it our own.”
The actors said they both saw the original “Lion King” as children and remember “loving it.” Rogen said he watched the animated movie often and knew “every word to every song,” which helped him expand on the music during filming.
Eichner added that performing the well-known songs — especially “Hakuna Matata,” which the two actors perform with Donald Glover — while trying to make it a unique performance was challenging.
“The songs were probably one of the more intimidating parts to record in terms of having to walk this fine line of nodding to the original and certain elements of the original performances that people just love and would be disappointed not to hear again, but also finding ways to make it our own,” Eichner said. “Once you get past the first few takes, you start to fall into your own rhythm. Eventually the anxiety wears off, but that’s a big one to take on.”
While fans haven’t gotten the chance to listen to the newest rendition of “Hakuna Matata” ahead of the film’s July 19 release date, I recently reported for the Deseret News that a behind-the-scenes featurette showcases a few seconds of the classic Disney song along with footage of Eichner, Rogen and Glover performing together in a studio.
The three actors appear in “The Lion King” alongside an ensemble cast including Beyoncé, James Earl Jones, John Oliver, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Florence Kasumba, Keegan-Michael Key, Eric Andre and Alfre Woodard.
CNN reports the movie’s official Twitter account recently posted a cast photo featuring each major star — save for Jones.