In December 2017, Ben Pearson drove to Playa Vista, California to visit the set of Disney’s The Lion King. Much of the set visit was spent discussing the technical aspects of how the film was coming together, but the talk with director Jon Favreau was a bit more personal. He explained why he wanted to make this movie, what speaks to him about this story, crafting the tone of the movie, how different this is from the animated version, this film’s music, and why he cast Donald Glover and Beyonce in the lead roles. Read the highlights of the interview below.
Working With Beyonce
“She’s busy,” the director laughed when asked about working with one of the world’s biggest superstars. “She has babies, she has albums, she goes on tour, her husband goes on tour. So she’s logistically trickier than some of the other cast members. Half of that role is singing, too, so that definitely made us feel that we had the right choice there. And then she had really prepared. She’s a very hard worker, it’s no surprise that she has had success in so many areas and if you look at Lemonade, you see really understands filmmaking, too, and is very curious and innovative. Once it finally became human scale and it was just us in the studio, she was great and she had even prepared a lot of the stuff ahead of time. This is a process, which is nice, because it really concentrates the time. She doesn’t have to sit in a trailer waiting for a camera to be ready. When it’s her, it’s all about her and I get to focus on her performance and getting to know her and then I get to go off and work with the camera people. So it has informed it and I try to get to know my cast members and have what ultimately ends up in the animation and visuals reflect who they are. Even if it’s not obvious on the surface, it definitely inspires me in the way I conceive it.”