The Lion King is set to take theaters by storm next week, and early reviews are indicating that Timon and Pumba are definitely the scene stealers throughout the film, who are brought to life by Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen respectively. Fans have seen some glimpses of their work in the movie, including a clip of their take on the iconic song Hakuna Matata, one of the true Disney classics. ComicBook.com had the chance to speak to Eichner about bringing that song to life alongside Rogen, and it was a bit intimidating at the start.
“Yeah, I mean that one, that one I guess was intimidating because it’s so iconic and people definitely remember it,” Eichner said. “But again, you know, we just were like, hey John cast us for a reason and we’re going to do our thing and try not to focus too much on what came before. And you know, again, if there are moments that we wanted not to be original, we will, but other than that, let’s just riff and play around with it. And that’s what we did. And again, a lot of the jokes during Hakuna Matata are brand new and very unique to this version of it. The song itself is very close to the original, but all the joking and the banter in between is I think entirely new with the … maybe with the exception of, what’s a motto with you like that, you know? So that’s a perfect example of like 90% of the banter during Hakuna Matata is new. A lot of it was improvised.”
They did bring some memorable lines back from the original though, including one fan-favorite line. “But then the, hey, what’s a motto? What’s the motto with you? That part is taken from the original because we thought, well that’s a moment worth bringing back, you know? But it’s like, but then I think I say boom at the end of it, we were like, we were trying to add things and keep things and you know, finding the right balance,” Eichner said.
Eichner has a singing background, but Rogen doesn’t, and that’s why Eichner gives him even bigger props for his role in the film.
“I give him major credit because, you know, I don’t think Seth knew that I actually had a singing background,” Eichner said. “You know, that I was a musical theater kid, so maybe he thought we would both sort of be in it together in terms of not being singers. But then I actually can sing and Don, you have Donald Glover in there who’s one of like the hottest musical stars of the world. Pharrell, Hans Zimmer who won an Oscar for doing the music the first time, you have Beyonce in the movie, you know like you have some incredible, I’m not including myself in that group, but you know you have some of the world’s greatest artists in the movie.”
“But he dove in and he committed 100% and I think at one point Seth said, “Oh, you can auto-tune me if you need to.” But they didn’t want to do that and I think it was the right choice because it makes Pumba sound really charming and authentic and he sounds the way he’s supposed to sound. And he sounds like Seth and that’s why it works,” Eichner said.
The Lion King hits theaters on July 18th.
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