Exclusive: Chris Sanders Discusses Success of Live-Action The Lion King

Exclusive: Chris Sanders discusses success of live-action The Lion King

Prior to making his directorial debut in the 2002 hit Lilo & Stitch, Chris Sanders worked with Disney in the storyboard and production design departments on various films, including the 1994 classic The Lion King, which saw a live-action remake hit the big screen last year. Whilst talking with ComingSoon.net about his latest big-screen effort The Call of the Wild, Sanders reflected on seeing the story brought to life in a new fashion.

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“It’s a curious thing to see it, I didn’t have a problem with it,” Sanders said. “I think that I follow the camp of ‘I would’ve definitely pushed those designs a little harder.’ That’s a taste thing. I think for me, there was a same/same thing, especially when it came to Scar. But that’s a threshold they would’ve had to have crossed and stayed on the other side of. That was a choice obviously they must’ve had a conversation about early on, how stylized will we be? Do we want to be hyper-real and be very controlled in the proportions of the characters? Or do we want to go a little bit further? I think people do a CG version of the characters that did cross that line, and I thought it was very exciting. But again, nothing major here to say about how they did it, simply a choice. I thought one of the things I was curious about was how closely they adhered to the staging and cutting of the original, particularly the opening, which I was stunned to see was pretty much shot for shot verbatim, which I’m sure must’ve streamlined what they did.”

Lions rule the African savanna in The Lion King, which welcomes Donald Glover (AtlantaSolo: A Star Wars Story) as future-king Simba, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter (Dreamgirls, “Lemonade” visual album) as Simba’s friend-turned-love interest Nala, and James Earl Jones (Rogue One: A Star Wars StoryField of Dreams) as Simba’s wise and loving father, Mufasa, reprising his iconic performance from Disney’s 1994 animated classic. You can pick up a copy of the 1994 version here.

Chiwetel Ejiofor (Twelve Years a SlaveDoctor Strange) was called on to portray Simba’s villainous uncle Scar, and Alfre Woodard (JuanitaMarvel’s Luke Cage) portrays Simba’s no-nonsense mother, Sarabi. JD McCrary (Tyler Perry’s The PaynesVital Signs) fills the shoes of Young Simba, a confident cub who can’t wait to be king, and Shahadi Wright Joseph (Hairspray Live, Broadway’s “The Lion King”) brings tough cub Young Nala to life.

Every kingdom comes with a trustworthy advisor or two. John Kani (CoriolanusCaptain America: Civil War) was cast as the wise baboon Rafiki, and John Oliver (Last Week Tonight with John OliverThe Daily Show with Jon Stewart) was tapped as hornbill Zazu, Mufasa’s loyal confidant. When Simba goes into exile, he relies on two newfound friends — Seth Rogen (Sausage PartyNeighbors) lends his comedic chops to naïve warthog Pumbaa, and Billy Eichner (Billy on the StreetAmerican Horror Story) joins the cast as know-it-all meerkat, Timon.

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While most of the animals in the kingdom respect the king, the hyenas have other plans. Florence Kasumba (Emerald CityBlack Panther) portrays Shenzi, Eric André (The Eric André ShowMan Seeking Woman) is Azizi, and Keegan-Michael Key (PredatorFriends from College) plays Kamari.

(Photo Credit: Backgrid Images)

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