WASHINGTON • Disney confirmed on Wednesday that pop queen Beyonce will play a lead role in its star-studded, live-action remake of The Lion King. She will voice the role of Nala, Simba's childhood friend who develops a romance with him several years later.
The remake is set for a debut in July 2019.
Simba will be voiced by Donald Glover, with James Earl Jones returning as Mufasa, whom he first voiced in the 1994 animated version.
Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave, 2013) will play Scar, Mufasa's brother and the coming-of-age story's main antagonist.
The list goes on: Comedians John Oliver, Seth Rogen, Keegan-Michael Key and others will also be cast in what remains one of the highest-grossing animated films of all time, generating US$968.5 million worldwide.
The musical went on Broadway in 1997 and has travelled around the world. In 2014, a Disney spokesman said the stage musical achieved "the highest-grossing total in box-office history"- at US$6.2 billion.
Beyonce had been rumoured as a favourite of director Jon Favreau - fresh from his 2016 Jungle Book remake - for months.
The role of Nala will be her first since voice-acting in Epic, a 2013 animated film about a teenager, caught between the forces of good and evil, who must save the world.
Disney has been successful with live-action adaptations over the past decade, most notably with 2010's Alice In Wonderland, 2014's Maleficent and 2015's Cinderella.