Comedian and actor Seth Rogen has lent his voice to Pumbaa in Jon Favreau’s upcoming remake of The Lion King. Pumbaa is a flatulent warthog and a friend to Timon (voiced by Billy Eichner), a meerkat. They are fast friends with Timon being the brains and Pumbaa being the brawn.
Rogen says, “I was secretly hoping that I would get the part. And Jon just emailed me and said, ‘Would you like to be Pumbaa?’ And I said, ‘Absolutely!’”
Timon and Pumbaa play a big role in getting a despondent Simba on his feet. After Scar murders Simba’s father King Mufasa, he rediscovers the joys of life thanks to Timon and Pumbaa, who are also outcasts. He grows up in the jungle, living by the philosophy of ‘hakuna matata’ (“no worries” in Swahili).
Jon Favreau came to attend the recording sessions of Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner, who is also a comedic actor.
Favreau says, “Comics, by nature, are tough on themselves. They tend to be a little more pragmatic because they’re used to either hitting or bombing. Whether you’re working on your standup or a movie that you’re about to unveil, it’s all about delivering, making people laugh and getting direct feedback from the audience. You become sensitive to that. And that’s why starting off on stage was so good for me because you get an inherent sense of timing in what’s entertaining.”
He adds, “You know when the funny parts are working or not. It’s instant feedback, so you can correct for it. Billy and Seth were like, ‘Give me another one’ or ‘Let’s do that scene again, I have some ideas.’ That was fun, and it felt fresh and different.”
The Lion King releases on July 19.