‘The Lion King’ Director Jon Favreau Is Reassuring Everyone After James Earl Jones’ Premiere Absence


The Lion King‘s world premiere earlier this week sparked an overwhelmingly positive outpouring of first reactions. People were terribly excited about the breathtaking visuals, and while Beyonce always nabs attention, and Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen apparently stole scenes as Timon and Pumbaa, a lingering issue weighed over the event. James Earl Jones, who has reprised his role as the voice of Simba’s dad, Mufasa, was notably absent on the Los Angeles red carpet.

Those concerns were further stoked when Jones didn’t appear in a new official cast photo that includes Beyonce, Eichner, and Rogen as well as Donald Glover (Simba), Shahadi Wright Joseph (Young Nala), JD McCrary (Young Simba), Keegan-Michael Key (Kamari), Eric André (Azizi), Florence Kasumba (Shenzi), Alfre Woodard (Sarabi), Chiwetel Ejiofor (Scar), and John Oliver (Zazu). Indeed, the omission of Jones’ impressive presence looked like a big deal, so director Jon Favreau spoke with USA Today to say everything is just fine with the 88-year-old icon. Really and truly:

“He was incredibly gracious to participate in this. I don’t know what I would have done had he not. He’s based on the East Coast. This is something that takes a lot out of you to do/ So his participation was geared more toward his performance.”

Favreau previously opened up to USA Today about how Jones signing onto the remake was what opened up the door to people taking it seriously. He also admitted that he was deeply affected by hearing the veteran actor read those same lines again. Yet in the case of promotion, it seems that Jones simply wanted to take it a little bit easy and not endure grueling days of interviews, along with all the accompanying travel and hassle. Hey, James Earl Jones has earned a break. Everyone please look at Beyonce and Donald Glover instead,

Disney’s The Lion King arrives on July 19.

(Via USA Today)