Political commentator, comedian and talk show host John Oliver is voicing Zazu in Disney’s remake of the 1994 film The Lion King. Oliver was a correspondent at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart before getting his own talk show, HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.
Oliver says there are British echoes in his character Zazu. “I think Zazu is basically a bird who likes structure,” Oliver says. “He just wants things to be as they should be. I think there are British echoes there because we tend to favor structure in lieu of having an emotional reaction to anything.”
Zazu is a red-billed hornbill, who is the advisor to King Mufasa and later Simba about the rules of jungle and royal protocol. When Mufasa is betrayed and murdered by Scar, who usurps his position, Zazu remains loyal to Mufasa and his son Simba when he claims his birthright.
Another Brit comic, Rowan Atkinson voiced Zazu in the original film.
The Lion King is directed by Jon Favreau. Veteran actor James Earl Jones returns to voice Mufasa. Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, Billy Eichner, John Kani, and Beyoncé also voice different characters in The Lion King.
Unlike the 2D technology of the original film. The Lion King (2019) features photorealistic characters and environments. The movie has evoked mixed critical reception. While the visuals, music, and voice performances have received a thumbs up, aspects like little originality in the story, the ‘uncanny valley’ effect in character models and the fact that real (or realistic) animals (as opposed to cartoony ones of The Lion King) show no emotion have not worked in the film’s favour.
The Lion King releases on July 19.