Celeb Bio Reveals Simba No Lock For Lion King


Hollywood, CA — A recently-published bio of Lion King star Simba includes a surprising revelation: Simba was far from Disney’s ideal choice to play the Lion King.

“He was a total unknown,” recalls a Disney exec quoted by Gavin Stitz, author of Simba: Head-Lion to Has-Been (Purgamentum Press, $19.95).  “We weren’t really sure that he could ‘open’ a film of this weight. That’s why we looked at some other actors.”

Here are some of Disney’s other choices for the starring role in what became an animation blockbuster:


–“We’d seen Snoopy’s work in A Charlie Brown Christmas, so we knew he could play other animals. And his Q rating was off the charts.  But we sent him to a dialogue coach for four months, and still, everything he said was completely unintelligible. It was like Stallone at his worst.”


— “Cruise tested well with audiences. And he could do his own stunts. But we had him run a few scenes with Nala, and there was zero chemistry. She just didn’t find him sexy.”


–“We’d worked with Mowgli before, so we knew he had issues. But he did have the jungle experience we were looking for. Unfortunately, he’d gone ‘Hollywood’ by this time. Said he was too busy hanging out at the Mansion with Hef to do that ‘nature boy crap’ anymore. Obviously, he was still a wild child.”


— “Garfield was a serious contender. He wasn’t drawn to Disney standards, but our animators thought they could improve him. We even did some preliminary sketches.  In the end, it was his personality that killed the deal. If we’d wanted fat, lazy, and arrogant, we would have hired Brando.”


— “Kind of a stretch, but Pinocchio kept calling Walt, begging for work, until Walt gave in and let him test for Simba. Unfortunately, now that he was a real boy, he wanted real boy money up-front, plus a piece of the merchandising. Had he seen the grosses on Pinocchio 2: Back to the Wood? We brought in Jiminy Cricket to mediate, but the kid tried to squash him.”


— “This would have been a breakout film for Boo Boo. And he really nailed the audition. In the end, he decided he didn’t want to go to Africa without Yogi, who was in and out of rehab for his pic-a-nic basket addiction. Too bad. Boo Boo could have been the next Eddie Murphy.”


— “Our marketing people pushed hard for Lionel Richie. You can imagine the promotional campaign. But he never really got serious consideration. Walt was a fan, but only of Richie’s Commodores stuff.”

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