Fans had voiced their concern when James Earl Jones was absent from much of the new Lion King’s promotion. However, director Jon Favreau recently told USA Today that there was no reason to worry as the Tony-winning actor is doing just fine.
“He’s based on the East Coast. This is something that takes a lot out of you to do,” said Favreau, referencing the travel necessary for promotion. “So his participation was geared more toward his performance.”
Fans of the film had started wondering about the health of the 88-year-old when he was absent from the remake’s promotional cast photos. He also skipped the world premiere of the film in Los Angeles, which boasted stars such as Beyoncé, Donald Glover, and Seth Rogen.
Jones has starred in movies such as The Great White Hope and Coming To America. However, he is arguably most well-known for his voice work, and has voiced some of the most iconic characters in moviedom history, such as Mufasa in the original 1994 version of The Lion King and most famously, Darth Vader in the Star Wars movies.
“He was incredibly gracious to participate in this. I don’t know what I would have done had he not,” Favreau added of the actor’s decision to voice the role of Mufasa once more.
Favreau even credited James Earl Jones’s reprisal as one of the biggest ways the film earned early “legitimacy.”
“Everybody was so concerned about ‘What was this new Lion King going to be?’ That one casting announcement helped,” he explained.
Listen, I'm getting worried.
This is like the third major photo roll-out they have done for the #LionKing and nobody is asking the real question: WHERE IS JAMES EARL JONES!?
He is the original Mufasa and came back on to voice him again 25 years later — where is he? pic.twitter.com/TIE1kpdKPh
— Ernest Owens (@MrErnestOwens) July 8, 2019
However, it turned out that Favreau had little need to worry about the credibility for the reiteration of the beloved Disney film. Superstars such as Donald Glover, Beyoncé, John Oliver, and Chiwetel Ejiofor all have respective parts as Simba, Nala, Zazu, and Scar.
However, despite being surrounded by some of the most famous faces in Hollywood, Favreau confessed that he still felt star-struck hearing Jones speak.
“All you can say is, ‘Oh, my God, I can’t believe I’m hearing you read these lines.’ It hits you so deeply. It’s beyond just appreciating a performance. It’s tapping into something that’s inside of you.”
The highly celebrated actor, who boasts an Emmy, a Grammy, a Tony, and an honorary Oscar in his name, can rest easy that The Lion King remake is up to his high standards. The highly-anticipated movie is already earning tons of praise after its Los Angeles premiere, with critics such as The Wrap’s Beatrice Verhoeven calling it a “visual masterpiece.”
Oh man #TheLionKing delivers. It’s a visual masterpiece that will leave you smiling and crying the whole time. It’s a true testament to the lasting effect Disney movies have on all generations. Timon and Pumbaa steal the show. And BEYONCE!!! #LionKing
— Beatrice Verhoeven (@bverhoev) July 10, 2019
The movie is slated to open on July 19.