John Oliver to Voice a Posh Little Zazu in Disney’s ‘Lion King’ Reboot
The upcoming Lion King will bear only a slight resemblance to the Disney animated classic families know and love. As with director Jon Favreau’s earlier rework of The Jungle Book, this film will shoot in live-action (a questionable term when all of the main characters are computer-generated imaged, but whatever) and eschew the musical numbers of the original film. A new casting notice has apprised us of yet another change to the fabric of the film, specifically that Simba’s toucan pal Zazu will now spend the film pointing emphatically to graphics in the upper-left-hand corner of the screen and screaming at fictitious office coworker Janice in Accounting.
That’s right, The Hollywood Reporter notes that John Oliver is the newest addition to a star-jammed cast already including Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner, Donald Glover, and James Earl Jones. Oliver will lend his sprightly English accent to fussy birdbrain Zazu, the official assistant to the lion royalty and Simba’s de facto caretaker. Rowan ‘Mr. Bean’ Atkinson voiced the toucan in the 1994 original, so having a peppy Brit in the role will at the very least keep with tradition. This won’t be Oliver’s first foray into vox-work, either; beyond the various bits of voiceover he does on Last Week Tonight, Oliver contributed his distinctive tones to the neo-Smurf movies. (He is, naturally, Vanity Smurf.)
The “live-action” Lion King won’t pounce on theaters until 2019, and they haven’t even landed a Nala or Scar as of yet, so everything’s still in the most preliminary stages. But once this comes together, expect it to be big. The Jungle Book was a massive multinational box-office-crusher for Disney, and that wasn’t even one of their more widely-loved properties. Straw-poll your local schoolyard (wait, no, definitely don’t do this) about their favorite Disney movies, and Lion King will most likely land near the top — Disney just can’t wait to crown their new king.