the lion king character portraits

There’s nothing that can get you more hyped for a Disney remake than seeing actors stare death in the eyes. That’s the route that The Lion King seems to be taking with its latest marketing campaign, which is doing a lot to remind us that there are real actors voicing these photorealistic animals. New The Lion King character portraits show the actors, which include Donald Glover, Beyonce, Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner, and John Oliver, face-to-face with their animals in what looks to be the snazziest Sears portrait studio ever. See the character portraits below.

The Lion King Character Portraits

These character portraits show us Donald Glover with Simba, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter with Nala, James Earl Jones with Mufasa, Chiwetel Ejiofor with Scar, Seth Rogen with Pumbaa, Billy Eichner wth Timon, Alfre Woodard with Sarabi, John Kani with Rafiki, Shahidi Wright Joseph with young Nala, JD McCrary with young Simba, and John Oliver with Zazu. All the actors either stare solemnly at the animals they’re voicing or smile — either way, strange reactions for people who appear to be facing imminent death at the jaws of wild creatures.

That’s the problem with the photorealistic animation that Jon Favreau is pioneering with The Lion King, and which he first tried with The Jungle Book: animals are naturally not as expressive as humans. Even just looking at the actors with blank expressions, their emotions are completely unreadable, which doesn’t bode well for an entire film that is done in photorealistic animation. Realism can’t hold a candle to the expressive art style of the original 1994 film’s gorgeous hand-drawn animation. But perhaps the talent of the cast’s voice acting could help with that issue, which is highlighted in the new behind-the-scenes featurette below.

The Lion King opens in U.S. theaters on July 19, 2019.

Disney’s “The Lion King, directed by Jon Favreau (“The Jungle Book”), journeys to the African savanna where a future king is born. Simba idolizes his father, King Mufasa, and takes to heart his own royal destiny. But not everyone in the kingdom celebrates the new cub’s arrival. Scar, Mufasa’s brother—and former heir to the throne—has plans of his own. The battle for Pride Rock is ravaged with betrayal, tragedy and drama, ultimately resulting in Simba’s exile. With help from a curious pair of newfound friends, Simba will have to figure out how to grow up and take back what is rightfully his.

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