The Cast of the Lion King: And Where They Are Now

Written by Katarina Betterton
Published: December 6, 2023
Share on:

Advertisement


Award-winning Disney movieThe Lion King (1994) created a fantastical musical narrative of family, duty, and being true to yourself amid the backdrop of the Pride Lands of Africa. Infused with themes from Hamlet and various biblical stories, The Lion King remains a time-honored classic well-loved by adults and children. Even in 2023, it remains one of the highest-grossing traditionally animated films and one of the best-selling home video films of all time.

The cast of The Lion King is as award-winning as the movie itself. Nearly every voice actor was or has become a sensation in Hollywood. Discover the full cast of The Lion King and where they are now.

Matthew Broderick

Cute lion cub resting on a small hill, bushes at backgroound

Matthew Broderick played Simba, a lion, in The Lion King.

19,047 People Couldn't Ace This Quiz

Think You Can?

©Alla Tsytovich/iStock via Getty Images

When he worked on The Lion King, Broderick had already “hit the big time” with Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in 1986. After the Disney movie, Broderick went on to star in dozens of impressive movies, musicals, and television shows.

Now 61, Broderick still acts. He recently played the father, Laird Becker, in the movie No Hard Feelings and will be the narrator in the upcoming movie The Gettysburg Address. In television, he played Richard Sackler in Painkiller and himself in a two-episode run of Only Murders in the Building.

Broderick has two Tony awards. His last run in a Broadway show was in 2022 when he played Sam Nash, Jesse Kiplinger, and Roy Hubley concurrently in Plaza Suite at the Hudson Theater in New York. In 2023, he starred in Sinclair Lewis’s Babbitt at the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego.

Broderick and his wife since 1997, Sarah Jessica Parker, have three children together.

Jeremy Irons: Scar

Lioness roars in the savannah

Jeremy Irons lent his voice to Scar, a lion, in The Lion King.

©LuCaAr/iStock via Getty Images

Impressively talented and incredibly versatile, Jeremy Irons played Scar, Simba’s conniving uncle who caused his brother’s (and Simba’s father’s) death. Already an established actor by 1994, Jeremy Irons continued his impressive career after the movie.

Most recently, Irons has taken up the mantle of Alfred Pennyworth in the new DC Cinematic Universe. He played the role in The Flash (2023), Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021), and Justice League (2017), among other older titles. In 2023 Irons also starred in The Cello as Francesco and Once Upon a Studio as Scar. Finally, he’s set to feature in The Beekeeper, a movie releasing in 2024.
Irons has a Tony award but has not acted on stage since 2017. His last television role was in 2022 as the Narrator for The Pentaverate — but he will play Abbé Faria in The Count of Monte Cristo as it releases.

James Earl Jones: Mufasa

Single lion looking regal standing proudly on a small hill

James Earl Jones played Mufasa, a lion, in The Lion King.

©2021 Photography/Shutterstock.com

Perhaps best known for his work as the voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars franchise, James Earl Jones lent his voice to Simba’s strong, loving, and ill-fated father Mufasa.

Now 92 in 2023, Jones has reduced his acting work significantly. However, he remains involved with the Star Wars franchise as Darth Vader’s voice — acting in voice roles as recently as 2022. In 2019, Jones also played Mufasa again in Disney’s live-action version of The Lion King

In October 2023, the Brethren community in Manistee County, Michigan honored Jones (and his mentor Donald Crouch) with a bronze sculpture for their contributions to art and the power of mentorship.

Whoopi Goldberg: Shenzi

Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta) lie on the ground, taken in South Africa

Whoopi Goldberg played Shenzi, a hyena, in The Lion King.

©Thomas Wong/Shutterstock.com

Leader of Scar’s trio of hyena underlings, Shenzi (voiced by Whoopi Goldberg) was a scheming, cunning alpha female who rarely lost composure.

Whoopi Goldberg had a dynamite acting career before lending her voice to the hyena in 1994. She’s already played Celie Johnson in The Color Purple, Oda Mae Brown in Ghost, and Deloris in Sister Act and Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit.

Goldberg remains active in the entertainment industry in 2023. She’s in several movies, TV shows, and a podcast series. Furthermore, she will return for season 27 of The View as the desk’s moderator.

Rowan Atkinson: Zazu

Red-billed Hornbill - Botswana

Zazu, a red-billed

hornbill

, was played by Rowan Atkinson in The Lion King.

©SteveAllenPhoto/iStock via Getty Images

Rowan Atkinson is a name synonymous with unforgettable characters. Johnny English, Edmund Blackadder, Mr. Bean, and Zazu rank among his most-loved roles.

Since the 1994 Disney movie, Atkinson has involved himself in many projects. Most recently, he played Father Julius in Wonka. He’s also in pre-production for Old Bean as his infamous character, Mr. Bean.

Jim Cummings: Ed

Africa, Animal, Animal Wildlife, Animals Hunting, Animals In The Wild

Jim Cummings played Ed, a hyena, in The Lion King.

©iStock.com/mlschach

Along with James Earl Jones, Jim Cummings possesses a unique and memorable voice. He’s lent it to more than one Disney movie — in fact, Ed, one of the hyenas, doesn’t break into his top-known roles. He’s regarded much more for his work as Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Ray (from The Princess and the Frog), and Razoul and Farouk in Aladdin.

He works consistently with Disney; in 2023 alone, he lent his voice to eight different projects. Cummings visits comic cons around the nation to meet fans of his many different roles. 

Robert Guillaume: Rafiki

Rafiki, the

mandrill

, got his voice from Robert Guillaume in The Lion King.

©Nikolay 007/Shutterstock.com

Robert Guillaume played the wisened mandrill Rafiki who served as Mufasa’s advisor in The Lion King. He’d already had an illustrious career before the movie as both a voice actor and in live-action films and television shows.

After The Lion King, Guillaume continued acting in both movies, television series, and voice acting for Rafiki. When the 2000s hit, he started voice acting in video games as well. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2017 after complications from prostate cancer. He was 89 years old.

Moira Kelly: Nala

pensive lioness

Moira Kelly played Nala, the lioness, in The Lion King.

©jason krac/iStock via Getty Images

TV and movie star Moira Kelly created the adult voice of Simba’s love interest, Nala. She booked the movie within the first few years of starting to act and it remains one of her most well-known roles besides her role as Karen in One Tree Hill. Kelly also played the titular role of Kate Moseley in The Cutting Edge (1992). 

She’s slowed her work as of late. Kelly reprised her voice as Nala in the 2022 video game, Disney Dreamlight Valley. In 2023, she played Joe in five episodes of the television series Citadel.

Nathan Lane: Timon

Animal, Standing, Cute, Looking, Africa

Nathan Lane played Timon, the meerkat, in The Lion King.

©iStock.com/Augustine Fernandes

Throughout his career, Nathan Lane has infused his energy into the various characters he’s played, from the high-strung Timon to the fashionable and snippy Pepper on Modern Family.

Lane has acted consistently since 1994, most recently starring in The Gilded Age as Ward McAllister and Harris in Dicks: The Musical. In November, Lane also had a two-night concert run for the musical The Frogs.

Cheech Marin: Banzai

Hyena in woodland

Cheech Marin played Banzai, the hyena, in The Lion King.

©Ondrej Prosicky/Shutterstock.com

Closing out the last of the hyena trio is Cheech Marin — an actor and comedian well-known for his stoner comedy and activism for Chicano culture. 

Marin’s acting career spans decades. Starting nearly 20 years before The Lion King, Marin has booked consistently entertaining roles, from Cheech and Chong, to Spy Kids, to Cars, and many more. 

Most recently, Marin acted in three 2023 TV series and two live-action movies. He’s also involved himself in propelling Latin and Chicano culture and art in the world. A permanent showcase just opened in September 2023 thanks to his efforts.

Ernie Sabella: Pumbaa

Warthog close up

Ernie Sabella played Pumbaa, the flatulent warthog, in The Lion King.

©nwdph/Shutterstock.com

Despite many other acting credits, Sabella’s work as Pumbaa guided most of his career. The most recent work he’s done in the last five years includes voicing Pumbaa in Timon and Pumbaa at the Movies (2019) and The Lion Guard (2016 — 2019).

Other acting credits include an episode or two on hit shows like The Good Wife, Blue Bloods, and That’s So Raven.

Madge Sinclair: Sarabi

Rongai Pride Lioness mother carries her baby to another place, because some Buffalo bulls were very close in Masai Mara, Kenya

Madge Sinclair played Simba’s mother in The Lion King.

©Maggy Meyer/Shutterstock.com

Sinclair found fame in her roles of Queen Aoleon (Coming to America, 1988), Ernestine Shoop, R.N. (Trapper John, M.D., 1980 — 1986), and Empress Josephine (Gabriel’s Fire, 1990 — 1991). 

Unfortunately, the role of Sarabi, Simba’s mother, became one of Madge Sinclair’s last. She acted in several episodes of 1995 television shows before passing away on December 20, 1995, at the age of 57. 

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Staincliffe/iStock via Getty Images


Share on:
About the Author

Katarina is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on dogs, travel, and unique aspects about towns, cities, and countries in the world. Katarina has been writing professionally for eight years. She secured two Bachelors degrees — in PR and Advertising — in 2017 from Rowan University and is currently working toward a Master's degree in creative writing. Katarina also volunteers for her local animal shelter and plans vacations across the globe for her friend group. A resident of Ohio, Katarina enjoys writing fiction novels, gardening, and working to train her three dogs to speak using "talk" buttons.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.