THE LION KING: Keegan-Michael Key, Florence Kasumba, Seth Rogen, Beyoncé, Billy Eichner and Jon Favreau attend the film’s European Premiere in Leicester Square, London
LAST NIGHT, the stars of Disney’s The Lion King celebrated the film’s European premiere in London’s Leicester Square.
We spoke to some of the cast and crew who made their way down the golden carpet about bringing the story to life in this CGI spectacular.
Florence Kasumba (Shenzi) shot to fame after appearing in the record-breaking blockbusterBlack Panther. She spoke to The Voice about the significance of this new version of The Lion King being voiced by a predominantly black cast.
“It’s always important to represent because I remember when I grew up I didn’t have that many movies that I saw when I thought oh I can relate to the characters or I see myself so when it comes to that I really like the fact that all of us can tell the story and people know the faces behind and think you know what, this is what I can become too,” she said.
She added: “Yeah there have been a lot of black people cast for the movie but I think there have been a lot of really talented people. It’s not just, I’m not just black, you know, I’m also somebody, I went to school and I learned that I worked more than 20 years before I came here to do a red carpet so therefore it’s not just my colour it’s also talent that’s behind that.”
The visuals in this reimagining of The Lion King are incredibly captivating. The hyperrealism of the aesthetics help to add a whole new magic to a story that is already well loved, while documentary-style shots inspired by David Attenborough’s nature documentaries further immerse viewers in the animal kingdom. Keegan-Michael Key, who plays hyena Kamari, let us in on a little secret about what viewers can expect to see on screen.
“Everything looks real. If a lion could talk, that’s what it would look like,’ he said.
“I don’t know if you know this, there’s one real shot in the movie, one real actual photograph shot – and I would dare you to be able to tell me what shot it is because it’s so, everything looks so real.”
When it comes to life lessons, The Lion King is full of them. It explores everything from the afterlife and caring for our environment to how we treat others and discovering our purpose in life. But one particular message that sticks out is hakuna matata – no worries for the rest of your days.
We asked some of the stars about their life mottos.
“I think my life philosophy is actually very much like this movie is always strive to be your highest self. And so in the midst of that the saying that I try to think about all the time is if you were a candle and you light someone else’s candle you’re not diminishing your own. So I try to live up to that to try and be that person who shares,” Key told us.
Kasumba said: “I don’t really have a life motto but I can really understand ‘hakuna matata’ because it works for me. You can’t go through life just thinking ‘no worries’ because there are a few things we have to worry [about] in life. But it’s definitely life advice because sometimes you can live in the moment and just be still and breathe and think, you know what, maybe I have to go through something hard right now but I will be fine. It’s all about taking baby steps.”
Director Jon Favreau, a fan of the phrase made internationally famous by the original Lion King, told The Voice that he felt identified more with Mufasa’s outlook.
“Although hakuna matata’s fun and funny, to not worry too much about things, I like the sense of Mufasa’s message which is as he’s talking to his son that there is a responsibility that we all have to the circle of life. And I love that it’s an intergenerational story that starts with a birth and goes through a generation and ends with a new generation. And as I get older, I realise that it’s all of our responsibility to keep all of this intact and leave the world a better place than it was when you arrived – whether it’s the animal kingdom, the environment the world, your family, your friends. I love that message of responsibility,” he said.
Seth Rogan, who plays Pumbaa, one half of the very funny warthog and meerkat duo, said that working with Donald Glover (Simba) was one of the most fun parts of making the film.
“I got to actually work with Donald and Billy in a recording booth, which was like really rare to do when you’re doing this kind of thing, and we got to improvise a lot. And I’m amazed, actually, when I looked at the movie.
“I never honestly would have thought that I would be able to do something that I thought was actually funny and that would work in a movie like this. And I really think it’s because of how well me and Billy ended up being able to play off of one another and create like a comedic dynamic that is really good.”
The Lion King is out in cinemas Friday 19 July.
Pick up this week’s copy of The Voice newspaper – out Thursday – for our interview with The Lion King’s Chiwetel Ejiofor.
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