That’s right: Favreau’s upcoming live-action adaptation of The Lion King, first announced in September, will star Donald Glover as Simba—the adult version of the character voiced in the original film by Matthew Broderick—and James Earl Jones, who will once again play wise lion monarch Mufasa. Disney officially confirmed the casting in a press release Friday night, adding that in the film, “Disney and Favreau will build on the groundbreaking technology used in The Jungle Book to bring the story of Simba to photorealistic life.”
This announcement should come as no surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention to Hollywood lately. Glover, still hot off his best actor Golden Globe win for his FX comedy Atlanta, has recently emerged as one of the industry’s most in-demand young stars, especially for blockbuster franchises; he’s set to appear in this summer’s sure-thing blockbuster Spider-Man: Homecoming, and he’s currently filming Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s highly anticipated, still-untitled Star Wars anthology film about Han Solo—another Disney property. (Glover will play a young Lando Calrissian, a part originated by Billy Dee Williams.)
As for Jones? He’s a living legend with an unmistakeable, inimitable voice; as long as the 86-year-old actor is available to reprise his role, it would simply feel wrong to see any other actor take on the part of Simba’s wise father. (In a neat coincidence, Jones, of course, also has a history with the Star Wars franchise; he voiced the fearsome Darth Vader in George Lucas’s original trilogy, as well as a split-second of Revenge of the Sith.)
The Lion King does not yet have a release date, though it does have a place on an increasingly crowded Disney slate of live-action adaptations; in addition to another iteration of the studio’s 1994 animated hit, it’s also planning live-action takes on a horde of films including Mulan, The Little Mermaid, Dumbo, and Snow White, among others. (Oh, and an Aladdin that the studio promises will not star a white guy.) Its live-action Beauty and the Beast, starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens, hits theaters in March.