After the enormous financial success of 2019’s The Lion King remake, it’s no surprise that Disney is moving forward with a follow-up. About a year ago, Moonlight director Barry Jenkins signed up to helm a prequel to the original story that’s set to explore the origins of Simba’s noble father, Mufasa, the future king of the Pride Lands. Now, the project has found its leading actors.
Deadline has revealed that Kelvin Harrison Jr. (The Trial of The Chicago 7) is on board to step into James Earl Jones’ gigantic shoes to voice Mufasa. Meanwhile, Aaron Pierre—who recently teamed up with Jenkins for HBO’s The Underground Railroad—is voicing Taka. Deadline notes that additional casting is underway with “plenty of big names” likely to be found.
While Taka is not a name we’ve heard in previous films, a bit of digging reveals this character’s secret identity. A 1994 Lion King tie-in book The Tale of Two Brothers revealed that Mufasa’s treacherous brother Scar was born Taka, before he changed his name after gaining his distinctive facial mark. So it seems safe to assume that Pierre is voicing the iconic villain, previously played by Jeremy Irons and Chiwetel Ejiofor in the remake.
The prequel will also use the cutting-edge photorealistic animation tech that Jon Favreau employed on the 2019 film and in his Jungle Book remake before that. Jeff Nathanson, who penned its predecessor, is back to script the prequel. It’s likewise been confirmed that Hans Zimmer is once again on scoring duties—after working on both previous Lion King flicks—along with Nicholas Britell and Pharrell.
2019’s The Lion King brought home more than $1.6 billion worldwide, which meant it overtook Frozen to become the highest-grossing animated film ever made. Whether it officially holds claim to that title is uncertain, though, as Disney insists on labeling it as a live-action production.
The still-untitled Lion King prequel—The Lion Prince, maybe?—has yet to be given a release date.