Why James Earl Jones Was Brought Back for New The Lion King According to Jon Favreau

Disney revives a revered animated classic this summer with the "live-action" adaptation of The Lion King, introducing the fan-favorite story to a new generation. But while the cast is being filled out with a lot of new, contemporary stars for the reboot, the iconic voice of Mufasa is the only returning face to the franchise.

The iconic James Earl Jones is reprising his role from the first film, playing Simba's father once again in The Lion King. And director Jon Favreau spoke with Empire Magazine about Jones' return, praising the actor for his second performance as Mufasa.

“I see it as carrying the legacy across,” Favreau explained. “Just hearing him say the lines is really moving and surreal.”

The magazine also introduced a brand new photo from the film featuring Mufasa, Young Simba, and the cranky advisor Zazu. Check it out below:

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(Photo: Empire Magazine)

Favreau also complimented Jones' delivery of his lines in the reboot, noting that age made his voice much more powerful for the reboot.

“The timbre of his voice has changed,” Favreau notes. “That served the role well because he sounds like a king who’s ruled for a long time.”

Favreau has had experience in retelling beloved stories, especially after bringing Iron Man to the big screen for the first time as well as rebooting The Jungle Book for new audiences. The director spoke with ComicBook on the set of The Lion King about the new adaptation.

“That’s something I learned on Jungle Book, and even to some extent on Iron Man,” Favreau explained. “Before we study the old movie, let’s write down everything we know and everything we remember. And what are the things that we have to do? And it’s a much longer list on Lion King because everybody watched it in the back of their minivans on DVD over and over again, right? The Millennials grew up with it, and even I’ve seen it lots, and I was an adult when it came out.”

Because of these aspects, Favreau said he wasn't intimidated in tackling The Lion King, but instead had to pick-and-choose what to honor much more carefully.

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“This feels like myth,” he said. “Part of it is creating a tone that feels consistent for this medium, in which you get away with other goofier humor, and more violent stuff, too: cartoon kind of sands those edges down. With live-action you have to be more decisive about things like humor and intensity and violence because it will get very extreme and not feel like part of the same film.”

The Lion King premieres in theaters on July 19th.

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