The Lion King Director Explains James Earl Jones’ Absence From World Premiere and Other Promotional Appearances

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Jon Favreau’s live-action remake of The Lion King is hitting theaters next week, which means the highly-anticipated Disney film just had its world premiere. Much of the film’s star-studded cast was in attendance with the exception of one important person: James Earl Jones. Much to the delight of fans, the actor is reprising his role of Mufasa, the main protagonist’s father who infamously dies towards the beginning of the film. In addition to missing from the premiere, Jones has also been absent from some of the promotional images. His lack of appearances have made some fans concerned, but Favreau recently confirmed with USA TODAY that the legendary actor is just fine.

“He’s based on the East Coast. This is something that takes a lot out of you to do,” Favreau explained. ”So his participation was geared more toward his performance.”

However, the director believes it was getting Jones back into the role that earned the film some of its early hype.

“Everybody was so concerned about ‘What was this new Lion King going to be?’ That one casting announcement helped.”

Favreau also shared that working with Jones was “a little surreal.”

“All you can say is, ‘Oh, my God, I can’t believe I’m hearing you read these lines.’ It hits you so deeply. It’s beyond just appreciating a performance. It’s tapping into something that’s inside of you.”

In a previous interview with Entertainment Weekly, the director shared his reasoning behind making the new movie.

“The whole reason for all of this is to make an animated film feel live-action — to have a real crew come in, interface with an animated film, and make all the camera decisions that you would on set, instead of somebody sitting at a keyboard programming in the camera moves,” Favreau explained.

In addition to Jones, the new version of The Lion King stars Donald Glover, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner, John Oliver, John Kani, Eric Andre, Florence Kasumba, Keegan-Michael Key, and Alfre Woodard.

Are you excited for Jones to reprise the role of Mufasa? Tell us in the comments!

The Lion King hits theaters everywhere on July 19th.

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