Donald Glover wanted Lion King remake to be ‘global and metropolitan’

The Lion King star Donald Glover said he wanted the Disney remake to be a “global and metropolitan” film.

Glover lends his voice to a photorealistic animated reimagining of king-in-exile Simba as part of a star-studded cast also featuring Beyonce Knowles-Carter, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Seth Rogen.

The remake sticks closely to the original plot, with Ejiofor’s Machiavellian uncle Scar betraying Simba’s father, Mufasa, to take over the Pride Lands.

The Lion King
Donald Glover stars as Simba in Disney’s Lion King remake (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

But Glover said the new film is different to the 1994 original and he wanted to reflect the “global” nature of the modern world.

Speaking at a press conference in Los Angeles, he said: “I guess Jon (Favreau, director) was really good about the circle of life having a major hand in it.

“I really feel that it’s good to make movies that are global and metropolitan.

“And a sense of citizens of the world and making sure we talk about how connected we are.

“Because it’s the first time we’ve ever really been able to talk to everybody at the same time.

“So I felt it was a necessary thing. He was really good at talking about that very upfront at the beginning.”

World Premiere of “The Lion King” – Arrivals
Pop super star Beyonce lends her voice to a character in The Lion King (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Glover, 35, said his young son was unaware he was starring in The Lion King until he brought him to the premiere on Tuesday.

He said: “I didn’t tell him anything, I really didn’t. And it’s his favourite movie.

“Somehow he found out about it but still didn’t know I was in it.

“He was like ‘oh, the one with Beyonce’. And then during the movie he was like ‘oh, dad’s in it too, bonus’.”

World Premiere of “The Lion King” – Arrivals
Jon Favreau, who directed The Lion King, previously made The Jungle Book (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

The Lion King has been in development for three years and uses the same photorealistic animation techniques as Favreau’s previous film, 2016’s The Jungle Book.

The film-maker said he only properly got to grips with the technology following the first movie.

He said: “There are lots of steps to this process and that’s why it took so long. And that’s partly why it was interesting over three years because it was always different at each phase.”

Favreau said it is essential to get the right cast, adding “you cannot compromise one iota” on who stars in the film.

“Because they’re the ones who are going to do everything and we just build off our cast,” he said.

Favreau said work began with the cast in a dark room “like a theatre rehearsal”, with their facial expressions recorded by long lens cameras before being sent off to the animation teams who would then translate them to animal expressions.

He said: “Because if we just motion-captured their face and put a human expression on the animal’s face I was concerned it would blow the illusion of it being a naturalistic documentary.”

Favreau said he was influenced by Sir David Attenborough’s BBC natural history documentaries, as well as the movie Babe.

“It really fell in the animators’ hands to try to figure out how to express their performances through the language of an animal’s emotive language”, he added.

The Lion King will be released in UK cinemas on July 19.