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HomeHealth and Lifestyle‘The Lion King’ at 30: Jason Weaver Sang for Simba but Few...

‘The Lion King’ at 30: Jason Weaver Sang for Simba but Few Knew It

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Weaver went on to co-star in the sitcom “Smart Guy,” sing on Chingy’s 2004 hit “One Call Away” and steadily work in film and TV. But it wasn’t until the last few years, Weaver said, that he began to receive more recognition for his “Lion King” role.

Disney is also keeping the fanfare around the film alive: In May, the studio filmed an anniversary concert, featuring Weaver and some of the other original voice actors, that will stream on Disney+. It has also announced a July theatrical rerelease of the original film, and a new live-action prequel, “Mufasa: The Lion King,” will premiere in December.

Weaver’s eyes sparkled behind thick-rimmed glasses as he spoke from Chicago, where he’s currently shooting the Showtime drama “The Chi.” As an adult, Weaver said, he has a new appreciation for his part in the Disney classic.

These are edited excerpts from our conversation.

How did singing for young Simba come about?

I was filming “The Jacksons” mini-series, and throughout the production, there would always be big artists that stopped by the set because they were friends of the Jacksons or were just curious. On this particular day, I was singing “Who’s Lovin’ You,” and Elton John [who co-wrote “The Lion King” songs with Tim Rice] stopped by. He saw me performing live and approached my mom. They wanted the Simba singing voice to have a young Michael Jackson vibe, and I was able to get an audition the day after we wrapped “The Jacksons.”

What was the recording process like?

It was simply supposed to be an audition. I was just going in to see if they would even consider me for the role. But [directors] Rob Minkoff and Roger Allers were there, and the producer Don Hahn. When I came into the Burbank recording studio, they had storyboards with basic artwork sketched in pencil showing what Simba looked like. And they said, “When you go into the booth, we’re going to have cameras set up to capture your actions because if we like what you’re doing, we may put it into the character’s animation.”

When the music came on, I just felt so comfortable. There was energy in the room, and it felt good. I sang “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” like two times, and Roger said, “Well, you got the job.” I had to finish all of the recording that day because I was scheduled to come back to Chicago on a red eye. So, I also sang part of “Hakuna Matata,” and then I did another song that never made the film called “Warthog Rhapsody.”



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