Simba and Nala may be downright drunk in love when Disney’s live-action The Lion King rolls around. Indeed, the Mouse House is fast-tracking this adaptation of the animated classic, and as casting is underway they’ve set their sights as high as possible for the role of Nala. Per Variety, none other than Beyonce is the studio’s top choice to take on the female lead voice role in the film. Jon Favreau is directing, utilizing the same technology he implemented in the smash hit The Jungle Book last year, and he’s already gotten the film off on the right foot by setting Donald Glover as Simba and James Earl Jones reprising his role as Mufasa.
Variety notes that no deal with Beyonce has been made just yet, and on top of her already busy schedule the singer/actress is pregnant with twins, but Disney and Favreau are said to be ready to accommodate whatever kind of schedule she needs to make this deal work out. This being a simple voice role certainly helps, as Favreau didn’t utilize motion-capture for his actors on The Jungle Book and instead let the animators truly bring the characters to life.
Indeed, calling The Lion King a “live-action” remake is a bit of misnomer. For most of The Jungle Book the only live-action element was the young Neel Sethi as Mowgli with the errant rock here or there, but in The Lion King there are no humans, so one imagines Favreau might craft the entire thing using computer animation. Or maybe he is using motion-capture on this film, albeit not with the same actors that are providing the voices.
While a Grammy winning artist in her own right, Beyonce is also no stranger to the big screen. She made her debut in 2002’s Austin Powers in Goldmember and showed off her dramatic chops in Bill Condon’s 2006 musical Dreamgirls. Condon, of course, recently helmed Beauty and the Beast to tremendous box office success, and this trend of Disney mining its animated classics for live-action (or live-action-esque) updates doesn’t show any signs of slowing down as audiences are responding in droves.
Also in the immediate future for Disney’s live-action redos are Mulan, directed by Niki Caro and opening in 2018, as well as a Guy Ritchie-directed Aladdin, both of which are casting up as we speak. So get into formation, Disney fans—we’ve only just begun.