Actor Aaron Pierre says he plans to show off a different side of Mufasa in the upcoming ‘live-action’ “The Lion King” prequel coming out towards year’s end.
Pierre takes over the role famously inhabited by James Earl Jones in both the 1994 original animated film and the 2019 photorealistic CG adaptation for a story set in his younger days and will explore the origins of both him and his brother Taka (later ‘Scar’).
“Moonlight” helmer Barry Jenkins directs the tale, which is reportedly supposed to show how Mufasa wasn’t a natural leader; rather, he grew into the role with help from others around him.
Speaking with Collider at Sundance to promote his role in the “Genius: MLK/X” series, Pierre says Jones remains a major inspiration even as he seeks to put his own spin on the character:
“First and foremost, I want to acknowledge that James Earl Jones is an enormous inspiration of mine. Massively. And I feel very honored to be walking into this role after him.
I think the key difference will be that here we’re exploring Mufasa in a different capacity. When Sir James Earl Jones portrayed him, this is Mufasa in his full capacity, in his rhythm, and I think here we’re exploring Mufasa prior to that point.
What does this young lion look like before he is who we know him as, and he is discovering his rhythm, how he conducts himself, how he engages with his community and his loved ones? So, I think that’s the key thing. It’s figuring it out.”
The film sees Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen reprise their roles as Timon and Pumba, and John Kani returns as Rafiki. Kelvin Harrison Jr. will take over the Scar role played by Jeremy Irons in the animated original and Chiwetel Ejiofor in the 2019 take.
Jeff Nathanson is penning the script with the film targeting a holiday release on December 20th.