Mufasa: The Lion King is the latest installment in the beloved DIsney franchise that featuring a whole new cast of exciting characters alongside a few returning actors in their fan-favorite roles. Directed by Barry Jenkins, the film will be a prequel to the original The Lion King from 1994, which told the story of a lion named Simba who’s forced to dethrone his evil uncle Scar after the mysterious death of his father. It quickly became one of Disney’s most popular projects, and while Jenkins’ sequel will be a mostly separate story with new characters, it’s still promised to be a return to this universe.
The Lion King was remade in live-action in 2019, and while that project received mixed reviews from critics, Mufasa: The Lion King will technically be a continuation of this version, using the same live-action technology. Several actors will be returning to their roles, while the younger versions of the existing characters are primarily being recast by actors for whom this will be unlike anything they’ve ever done before. It’s also a completely new kind of project for Jenkins, who previously directed works such as Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk.
Aaron Pierre As Mufasa
Aaron Pierre is a new addition to the Mufasa: The Lion King cast, and he’ll be playing a younger version of that titular protagonist. He’s the father of The Lion King’s main character Simba, the old King of Pride Rock before he’s murdered by his brother Scar. This prequel will likely explore his days as King, with a heavy focus on his reign and the conflict this caused with his jealous brother. Pierre had his breakout role as Dev-Em in Krypton before working with Jenkins on The Underground Railroad and securing this iconic role.
Kelvin Harrison Jr. As Taka
Before he was known as Scar, the younger brother of Pride Rock’s leader went by the name of Taka. He’s an envious enemy to Mufasa who’s always sought the power he was never granted, and while certain plot details about Mufasa: The Lion King haven’t been revealed yet, it’s safe to assume his rivalry with Mufasa (and potential transformation into Scar) will be major threads. The character is played by Kelvin Harrison Jr, the actor best known for playing Tyler in 2019’s Waves. He also portrayed historical activist Fred Hampton in Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7.
Seth Rogen As Pumbaa
Pumbaa is the comedic warthog that’s responsible for many of The Lion King’s funniest and most memorable moments, helping Simba along his journey once he leaves Pride Rock. In Mufasa: The Lion King, it’s Pumbaa that narrates the story from his perspective in the present. The character is played by Seth Rogen, who also appeared in 2019’s live-action The Lion King. Rogen is a hugely popular comedian who’s best known for his roles in Superbad and Knocked Up, where he displays the exact same eccentric humor that makes Pumbaa so funny.
Billy Eichner As Timon
Timon is Pumbaa’s closest friend when they encounter Simba in The Lion King, and the trio quickly form a deep bond when the lion is forced to take up their style of life. He’s another great source of comedic relief in the middle of this dramatic revenge story, as his friendship with Pumbaa allows for several funny jokes. He’s played by Billy Eichner in both The Lion King and Jenkins’ upcoming prequel, with the actor’s previous successes including Bros and Billy on the Street.
John Kani As Rafiki
Rafiki also appeared in The Lion King, but his younger version will play a large role in Mufasa: The Lion King. The character is a mandrill, a spiritual shaman, and the closest advisor of the King of the Pride Lands. Over the years, he built a close friendship with Mufasa that plays a large role in the King’s background story. Rafiki is played by John Kani, the South African actor who’s famous for his roles in Murder Mystery as Colonel Ulenga and T’Chaka in Black Panther.