Let’s face it, you’ve probably seen The Lion King more times than you’re willing to admit, and we don’t blame you, because we have too. But, even after all of those viewings, we bet there’s still a ton of things you don’t know about the making of film. Sure, you may know every line of every song, but do you know how your favorite characters were cast? How about how long it took to create the famous Wildebeest stampede scene? In the words of Timon and Pumbaa, “Hakuna Matata!” We’re here to keep you informed. Just be prepared, because these facts may surprise you.
1. Real animals were studied during production.
While animators filmmakers were working on the film, several traveled to Africa to study the behavior of the native animals there. To take things a step further, wildlife expert Jim Fowler brought lions, hornbills, and more into the studio in Los Angeles to serve as reference models.
2. Nathan Lane (Timon) and Ernie Sabella (Pumbaa) auditioned for completely different parts.
Before taking on the roles of Timon and Pumbaa, Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella (who at the time had been co-starring in Guys and Dolls) were asked to audition together as the hyenas, Banzai and Shenzi. The directors loved their performances so much that they decided to cast them as Timon and Pumbaa. We’re glad that happened, because we wouldn’t have it any other way.
3. The Wildebeest stampede scene took two years to complete.
It took Disney’s CGI animation team over two years to create the wildebeest stampede sequence in the film. It only took two seconds, however, for our tears to fall after thinking about the scene.
4. Matthew Broderick only recorded with another actor once while working on the film.
Believe it or not, Matthew Broderick (Simba) only recorded with another actor once during the entirety of production. In fact, he wasn’t aware Moira Kelly was the voice behind Nala until he attended the premiere.
5. More than one actor sang “Be Prepared.”
Jim Cummings (Ed) sang the last third of Scar’s famous song because Jeremy Irons threw out his voice during recording. We’re impressed, because we definitely couldn’t tell.
6. The film was was pitched as a cross between Hamlet and Bambi.
According to writer Irene Mecchi, when she started working on The Lion King, the idea was pitched to her as “Bambi in Africa meets Hamlet,” which she referred to as “Bramlet.”
8. Several actors were considered for the role of Zazu.
Before Rowan Atkinson was cast as Zazu, actors John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Patrick Stewart, Terry Jones, and Terry Gilliam were all considered for the part. Atkinson got the role is because animators enjoyed his performance in the show Mr. Bean.
Which of these facts did you find most surprising? Let us know in the comments!