Casting new actors in beloved roles is a minefield – but with the news that Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner are in talks to take on the roles of Timon and Pumbaa in the latest Disney live-action remake – The Lion King – we think they’ve hit on a winning combination.
Below, we champion these two comedy talents:
Seth Rogen for Pumbaa
Seth Rogen is known for stoner comedies like Knocked Up and Pineapple Express and could bring a dose of this persona to warthog Pumbaa. This would bring the character up to date and also make him more fitting for a live-action film.
Although the characters of Timon and Pumbaa work for an animated film largely aimed at children, characters like this don’t always translate easily to a live-action environment – albeit one where the majority of the “live action” is likely to be CGI (like the recent remake of The Jungle Book). The team behind the recent Beauty and the Beast live-action reimagining realised this and made efforts to flesh out the characters of Gaston and LeFou – that film’s double act – and inject new life into the pair. The results were hilarious – and arguably more appealing to a wider and more contemporary audience.
Rogen is also a talented writer, so Disney could draw on his pool of skills to help shape the script. As a comedian, he’ll also be used to improvising. And where improvisation between Luke Evans and Josh Gad in Beauty and the Beast led to some very funny moments, the same could happen here.
Rogen has worked with Billy Eichner before in Neighbors 2 and also on Eichner’s skit Billy on the Street so the pair already have a shorthand with one another – and, we’re guessing – a good working relationship. This means they can walk right into firing off one another and bringing that chemistry to this classic cinematic pairing.
Seth Rogen also, importantly, has a history of doing voice work for the screen. Notably in his very own Sausage Party, as well as Kung Fu Panda plus The Simpsons and Family Guy, among other things. This means that voicing a CGI warthog will be a breeze – he’s got the experience to really nail it.
Billy Eichner For Timon
If you’ve seen the Billy on the Street with Seth Rogen, you’ll know that this pairing is megalolz. In it, Rogen poses as the cameraman to Billy’s vox pops presenter who wanders the streets of New York asking ordinary passersby what they think of the news that Seth Rogen is dead.
The responses are hilarious, both from the members of the public interviewed and Billy himself. Plus, Rogen’s reactions are priceless. To be fair, Billy on the Street is always hysterical.
We’d like to see a touch of this irreverence and disregard for political correctness make it into the character of meerkat Timon. With no off-switch and no limits, the comedy and banter he can create will appeal to grown-up fans of the original animation as well as newcomers. And us, but that goes without saying.
The Parks and Recreation actor will hopefully bring his brand of high-energy, in-your-face eccentricity to the role making him a great match to Rogen’s more laid-back but no less acerbic witticisms.
But let’s not forget that The Lion King is a musical. Does Billy Eichner have the singing credentials to do justice to the film’s famous songs? Well, he wrote and performed a song for Taylor Swift which demonstrated his vocal prowess – judge for yourself right here:
The Lion King is set for a 2019 release and will feature Donald Glover as Simba and James Earl Jones as Mufasa.