‘The Lion King’ Turns 25: Compare the Animated and Live-Action Characters

Can you feel the love? The Lion King is celebrating its 25th anniversary on Saturday, June 15, one month before the highly anticipated live-action remake hits theaters.

The 1994 animated musical, which is one of the highest-grossing films of all time, was directed by Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, with an iconic soundtrack by Elton John, Tim Rice and Hans Zimmer. The voice cast included Matthew Broderick (Simba), Ernie Sabella (Pumbaa), Jeremy Irons (Scar), James Earl Jones (Mufasa), Moira Kelly (Nala), Nathan Lane (Timon), Robert Guillaume (Rafiki), Rowan Atkinson (Zazu), Madge Sinclair (Sarabi), Whoopi Goldberg (Shenzi), Cheech Marin (Banzai) and Jim Cummings (Ed).

The original Lion King was a massive success at the box office and is lauded by Disney fans and critics to this day. It took home two Oscars for its music and three Golden Globe Awards, including Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, among many other esteemed accolades.

The ‘90s classic spawned a lucrative, long-running Broadway adaptation and two direct-to-video releases, a sequel titled The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride in 1998 and a prequel titled The Lion King 1½ in 2004. It has also been preserved in the U.S. National Film Registry for its cultural significance.

Jon Favreau signed on to direct the 2019 remake, which will feature many of the beloved songs from the original, scored once again by Zimmer. It has been widely categorized as a “live-action” movie, although it technically utilizes photorealistic computer-generated animation.

“It depends what standard you’re using,” Favreau, 52, explained to SlashFilm in May. “Because there’s no real animals and there’s no real cameras and there’s not even any performance that’s being captured that’s underlying data that’s real. Everything is coming through the hands of artists.”

The voice cast for the remake, which opens on Friday, July 19, includes Donald Glover (Simba), Seth Rogen (Pumbaa), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Scar), Jones (reprising his role as Mufasa), Beyoncé (Nala), Billy Eichner (Timon), John Kani (Rafiki), John Oliver (Zazu), Alfre Woodard (Sarabi), Florence Kasumba (Shenzi), Eric Andre (Azizi) and Keegan-Michael Key (Kamari).

Scroll down to see side-by-side photos of the 1994 and 2019 characters!


Matthew Broderick (1994) vs. Donald Glover (2019)

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Ernie Sabella (1994) vs. Seth Rogen (2019)

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Jeremy Irons (1994) vs. Chiwetel Ejiofor (2019)

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James Earl Jones (1994 and 2019)

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Moira Kelly (1994) vs. Beyoncé (2019)

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Nathan Lane (1994) vs. Billy Eichner (2019)

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Robert Guillaume (1994) vs. John Kani (2019)

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Rowan Atkinson (1994) vs. John Oliver (2019)

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Madge Sinclair (1994) vs. Alfre Woodard (2019)

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