The director of The Lion King didn’t have to look any further than the dinner table when he was seeking casting ideas for one of the film’s most important roles.
“I’ve got the Beyhive in my house,” said Jon Favreau to Entertainment Weekly.
Reportedly, he contacted Bey about being in the movie without knowing that she was already considering the role. The film will be her first time appearing in something other than a documentary since 2013’s animated Epic.
His family’s affections weren’t the only reason Favreau was sure about casting Beyoncé Knowles-Carter (the name she’s using for her credit on the movie) to play the Nala in the photo-real virtual remake.
“I’ve seen her live and she’s a unique talent, to say the least,” he said of Queen Bey. “And when I finally spoke to her after reaching out, although her persona onstage is bigger than life, she’s very down to Earth and is very much dedicated to her family and having a life that is human-scale.”
In The Lion King, Beyoncé plays cubhood friend of prince Simba’s Nala, who exhibits queen-like behavior in her own right when she reconnects with him as an independent lioness who has come into her own.
“And then of course, there are these wonderful musical numbers that she can be involved with, and my God… she really lives up to her reputation as far as the beauty of her voice and her talent,” noted Favreau.
She will be joined in those numbers, such as “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” by Donald Glover, who is voicing Simba.
The music wasn’t the only place Beyoncé had input. The actress took a hands-on approach to learning how the photo-real imagery was created.
“Whenever she came by to work on it, she was incredibly curious about the technology, and as I showed her the techniques and materials, she rolled up her sleeves and got into the VR and started to mess around with all the tools,” the director recounted.
“I think like most people who are at the pinnacle of their industry, she has a really good sense of how new things can inform other things she’s working on. Lemonade was happening around the time we were just beginning to work together, and you could see how art and filmmaking and fashion and music were all interweaving for her,” he continued.
The Lion King roars into theaters on July 19, 2019.