Alfre Woodard, who played the corrupt Harlem politician Mariah Dillard in Netflix’s “Luke Cage,” will play Simba’s mother, Sarabi, in the upcoming “Lion King” remake. She takes over a role played in the original 1994 animated film by Madge Sinclair.
The news comes on the same day TheWrap exclusively reported that “Captain America: Civil War” actor John Kani will voice Rafiki, the wise Mandrill (a baboon-like species of primate) who teaches important life lessons to main character Simba.
Woodard joins a cast that also includes Donald Glover as Simba, John Oliver as Zazu, Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen as Timon & Pumbaa, and the returning James Earl Jones as Mufasa. TheWrap exclusively reported last week that Chiwetel Ejiofor is also in talks to play the villainous lion, Scar.
In addition to her work in “Luke Cage,” Woodard has also appeared alongside Ejiofor in the Best Picture Oscar winner “12 Years A Slave” and will next appear as an immigration court judge in the biopic “Saint Judy” starring Michelle Monaghan and Common. She received an Oscar nomination in 1983 for her supporting role in the biopic drama “Cross Creek.”
The “Lion King” remake, which debuted its first exclusive sneak peek for fans at the D23 Expo last month, will be directed by Jon Favreau from a screenplay by Jeff Nathanson. The project is currently filming in Los Angeles, where Favreau shot his last film, the CGI/live-action hybrid remake of “The Jungle Book.” That film made $966 million at the global box office and was one of the top 5 highest grossing films of 2016, all of which came from Disney.
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The remake will arrive in theaters July 19, 2019. Woodard is represented by ICM, Circle of Confusion and Gochman Group.
The Hollywood Reporter first reported that Woodard joined the film’s cast.