'The Lion King' director Jon Favreau says James Earl Jones is fine

USA TODAY

Published 8:08 AM EDT Jul 11, 2019

You can stop worrying.

James Earl Jones, who returns to the screen on July 19 as the voice of Mufasa in Disney's reimagined "The Lion King," is doing just fine, despite being absent from recent promotional appearances.

Fans began to worry when they noticed that the 88-year-old star, who first voiced King Mufasa in 1994's animated "Lion King" film, wasn't in any of the remake's starry promotional cast shoots. Nor did he attend Tuesday's world premiere of "The Lion King" in Los Angeles, where cast members including Beyoncé, Donald Glover and Seth Rogen walked the red carpet.

"He was incredibly gracious to participate in this. I don't know what I would have done had he not," Favreau told USA TODAY on Wednesday.

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"He's based on the East Coast. This is something that takes a lot out of you to do," the director noted, referencing this week's premiere and subsequent days of interviews. "So his participation was geared more toward his performance."

In fact, the director believes it was the announcement that Jones would come back to Mufasa (with Glover signed on as his cub Simba) that earned "The Lion King" early legitimacy. "Everybody was so concerned about 'What was this new Lion King going to be?' That one casting announcement helped."

And on the set, recording with him was “a little surreal,” Favreau previously told USA TODAY. “All you can say is, ‘Oh, my God, I can't believe I'm hearing you read these lines.’ It hits you so deeply. It's beyond just appreciating a performance. It's tapping into something that's inside of you.”

Contributing: Brian Truitt

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