'The Lion King' 5 things you never knew about Disney's original animated classic from the people who made it

When it arrived in theaters 25 years ago, Disney’s The Lion King became a Cinderella story ... minus the studio’s version of Cinderella. Dismissed within the Mouse House as a B-movie during its production, the movie unleashed a mighty roar at the box office, grossing more than $300 million domestically during its initial theatrical run. (It’s since brought that total up to over $400 million through several successful re-releases.) With a new Lion Kingpoised to conquer multiplexes this weekend, we revisited the Yahoo Entertainment archives and unearthed five secrets about the ancestor to Disney’s newest box-office king.

The songs you know and love originally sounded very different

If you grew up watching The Lion King, it’s hard to remember a time when you didn’t know the words to “Circle of Life,” “Hakuna Matata” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” by heart. But those tunes — written by Elton John and Tim Rice — required a lot of refinement before arriving at the versions playing in your head right now. Take the soaring opening credits anthem “Circle of Life,” which sounded far less majestic in John’s original demo. “[It was] totally different than the one we wound up with,” Lion King co-director, Rob Minkoff, said in 2017. “It went, ‘And we’ll all join in in the circle of life.’ And we thought, ‘It’s terrible.’” But that story has a happy ending, as Rice worked directly with John to craft the number that opens both the 1994 film and the 2019 remake.

In the case of “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” it was John who persuaded the filmmakers they were on the wrong path. Executive producer Don Hahn revealed in 2017 that Minkoff and his fellow director, Roger Allers, had the bright idea of handing the movie’s love ballad to comic relief sidekicks Timon and Puumba (Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella). To say that John was displeased is an understatement. “What have you done? You’ve destroyed my song,” Hahn remembers the singer protesting. “This is the reason I did the movie, I always wanted to write a great Disney love ballad, and you’ve just destroyed it.” Allers and Minkoff quickly reversed course and let Simba and Nala take center stage as John intended. (While Matthew Broderick and Moira Kelly provide the speaking voices for the adult lion lovers, Joseph Williams and Sally Dworsky crooned their lyrics.)

Speaking of the warthog-and-meerkat comedy team, an early version of “Hakuna Matata” dedicated an entire verse to Timon’s days as a “young meerkat.” “We had this very long verse before the song started,”Minkhoff explained in a behind the scenes featurette included on a new Blu-ray edition of The Lion King in 2017 . “We thought it took too long to get going. So we figured out a way to begin the song with the chorus.”

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'The Lion King' premiere: Red carpet arrivals
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'The Lion King' premiere: Red carpet arrivals
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JULY 09: Eddie Cibrian and LeAnn Rimes with children during the premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Dolby Theatre on July 09, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JULY 09: Beyoncé attends the premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Dolby Theatre on July 09, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JULY 09: (L-R) Blue Ivy Carter and Beyoncé attends the premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Dolby Theatre on July 09, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JULY 09: Beyoncé attends the premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Dolby Theatre on July 09, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JULY 09: Jamie Foxx (C) attends the premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Dolby Theatre on July 09, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JULY 09: Tiffany Haddish attends the premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Dolby Theatre on July 09, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JULY 09: Alfre Woodard attends the premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Dolby Theatre on July 09, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JULY 09: Kelly Rowland attends the premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Dolby Theatre on July 09, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JULY 09: (L-R) Kelly Rowland and Titan Jewell Weatherspoon attend the premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Dolby Theatre on July 09, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JULY 09: Michelle Williams attends the premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Dolby Theatre on July 09, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JULY 09: Chiwetel Ejiofor attends the premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Dolby Theatre on July 09, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
US actor Donald Glover arrives for the world premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at the Dolby theatre on July 9, 2019 in Hollywood. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JULY 09: Jon Favreau attends the premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Dolby Theatre on July 09, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JULY 09: Yara Shahidi attends the premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Dolby Theatre on July 09, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JULY 09: Normani attends the premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Dolby Theatre on July 09, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JULY 09: (L-R) Kirsten Corley, Chance The Rapper, and Kensli Bennett attend the premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Dolby Theatre on July 09, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JULY 09: (L-R) Chance The Rapper and Kensli Bennett attends the premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Dolby Theatre on July 09, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JULY 09: Daryl Sabara and Meghan Trainor attend the premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Dolby Theatre on July 09, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JULY 09: LeAnn Rimes attends the premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Dolby Theatre on July 09, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JULY 09: Seth Rogen attends the premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Dolby Theatre on July 09, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JULY 09: Billy Eichner attends the premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Dolby Theatre on July 09, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JULY 09: (L-R) Chloe Bailey and Halle Bailey attend the premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Dolby Theatre on July 09, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JULY 09: Yvette Nicole Brown attends the premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Dolby Theatre on July 09, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JULY 09: Skai Jackson attends the premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Dolby Theatre on July 09, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
US actor Keegan-Michael Key and his wife US producer Elisa Pugliese arrive for the world premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at the Dolby theatre on July 9, 2019 in Hollywood. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JULY 09: Zooey Deschanel attends the premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Dolby Theatre on July 09, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JULY 09: Chrissy Metz attends the premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Dolby Theatre on July 09, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JULY 09: Patrick Starrr attends the premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Dolby Theatre on July 09, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JULY 09: Raven-Symoné attends the premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Dolby Theatre on July 09, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JULY 09: Willow Bay and Robert Iger attend the premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Dolby Theatre on July 09, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JULY 09: Shahadi Wright Joseph Actress attends the premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Dolby Theatre on July 09, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JULY 09: Florence Kasumba attends the premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Dolby Theatre on July 09, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JULY 09: Eric Andre attends the premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Dolby Theatre on July 09, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JULY 09: Maia Mitchell attends the premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Dolby Theatre on July 09, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - JULY 09: Logan Browning attends the premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Dolby Theatre on July 09, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage)
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You almost heard a different Puumba

Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella were starring alongside each other nightly in the celebrated 1992 Broadway revival of Guys and Dolls when they both auditioned to play the wisecracking hyenas that help Scar bring down Mufasa. As Sabella recalled in 2017, it did not go well. “We were in this little booth that they concocted and we were ad-libbing as well, and when we got done, there was silence in the room. And I said to Nathan, ‘Well, at least we have a job at night.’”

The duo may have bombed as the hyenas, but the directors determined that they’d be perfect fits as Simba’s wisecracking pals. Well, Lane was at least. Speaking with Yahoo Entertainment in 2017, Minkhoff revealed that they almost parted ways with Sabella during production. “We did our first session, we cut it together, we played it and the jokes didn’t land. It wasn’t his fault, it was completely our fault. After the meeting, people in charge were sort of disappointed about it and said, ‘Maybe we should look to recast him.’” Minkhoff pleaded to give Sabella a second chance in the recording booth, and that session proved magic. “The next scene we played went over like gangbusters, and everybody realized [Ernie and Nathan] were great together.”

Sabella rewarded the directors for sticking by him by inventing a classic bit of Puumba tomfoolery: his penchant for passing gas. In order to pick up Lane’s spirits during recording sessions, he’d blow into his hand and make fart noises, which never failed to bring a smile to his co-star’s face. “Later when we were doing interviews, I would tell reporters, ‘Pumbaa is the first Disney character to have gas,’” Sabella remembered in 2017. “And then Nathan would take the mic and say, ‘It’s actually Snow White, but we don’t talk about that.'”

Jeremy Irons’s singing voice is smoky for a reason

Some singers have a naturally smoky voice: in the case of Jeremy Irons — who plays one of Disney’s all-time great villains, Scar — he had a bit of an assist. “He’s a smoker,” Minkhoff told Yahoo Entertainment in 2017. “So when we recorded him, he was smoking, including [during] the song ‘Be Prepared.’” Not that any secondhand smoke is visible in the movie. “We had to edit out all of [the smoking],” the director joked.

In the same interview, Minkhoff cleared up some confusion over the exact relationship between Scar and Mufasa (James Earl Jones). In an interview with the website HelloGiggles, Hahn seemed to suggest that the two lions weren’t actually brothers, a story that quickly went viral on the internet. But Minkhoff chalks that up to a misunderstanding over the habits of actual lions versus the characters in the movie. “For sure, they are brothers,” he stressed. In that case, Mufasa should really say something to his sibling about his smoking habit.

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Meghan Markle attends The Lion King premiere
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Meghan Markle attends The Lion King premiere
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 14: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attends "The Lion King" European Premiere at Leicester Square on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (L) and Britain's Meghan, Duchess of Sussex (R) arrive to attend the European premiere of the film The Lion King in London on July 14, 2019. (Photo by Niklas HALLE'N / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend "The Lion King" European Premiere at Leicester Square on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend "The Lion King" European Premiere at Leicester Square on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2019/07/14: Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend the European Premiere of Disney's The Lion King at the Odeon Luxe cinema, Leicester Square in London. (Photo by Keith Mayhew/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attends "The Lion King" European Premiere at Leicester Square on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attends "The Lion King" European Premiere at Leicester Square on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attends "The Lion King" European Premiere at Leicester Square on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, attend the European film premiere of Disney's 'The Lion King' at Odeon Luxe Leicester Square on 14 July, 2019 in London, England (Photo by WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attends "The Lion King" European Premiere at Leicester Square on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend "The Lion King" European Premiere at Leicester Square on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend "The Lion King" European Premiere at Leicester Square on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend "The Lion King" European Premiere at Leicester Square on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attends "The Lion King" European Premiere at Leicester Square on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend "The Lion King" European Premiere at Leicester Square on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend "The Lion King" European Premiere at Leicester Square on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attends "The Lion King" European Premiere at Leicester Square on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend "The Lion King" European Premiere at Leicester Square on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 14: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attends "The Lion King" European Premiere at Leicester Square on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 14: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend "The Lion King" European Premiere at Leicester Square on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 14: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attends "The Lion King" European Premiere at Leicester Square on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 14: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attends "The Lion King" European Premiere at Leicester Square on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 14: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attends "The Lion King" European Premiere at Leicester Square on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 14: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attends "The Lion King" European Premiere at Leicester Square on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 14: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend "The Lion King" European Premiere at Leicester Square on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 14: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend "The Lion King" European Premiere at Leicester Square on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex greet US singer-songwriter Beyoncé and and US rapper Jay-Z at the European Premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Odeon Luxe Leicester Square on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Niklas Halle'n-WPA Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex chat with young children of Disney executives at the European Premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Odeon Luxe Leicester Square on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Niklas Halle'n-WPA Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex greet Disney CEO Robert Iger US singer-songwriter Beyoncé at the European Premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Odeon Luxe Leicester Square on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Niklas Halle'n-WPA Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex chat with US film director Jon Favreau at the European Premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Odeon Luxe Leicester Square on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Niklas Halle'n-WPA Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex arrive to attend the European Premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Odeon Luxe Leicester Square on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Niklas Halle'n-WPA Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (L) chats with Disney CEO Robert Iger as Meghan, Duchess of Sussex (2nd R) embraces Beyonce Knowles-Carter (R) as they attend the European Premiere of Disney's "The Lion King" at Odeon Luxe Leicester Square on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Niklas Halle'n-WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (2nd L) and Britain's Meghan, Duchess of Sussex (L) chat with US film director Jon Favreau (C) as they arrive to attend the European premiere of the film The Lion King in London on July 14, 2019. (Photo by Niklas HALLE'N / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images)
Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (centre left) and Britain's Meghan, Duchess of Sussex (centre right) arrive to attend the European premiere of the film The Lion King in London on July 14, 2019. (Photo by Niklas HALLE'N / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images)
Britain's Meghan, Duchess of Sussex (L) meets cast and crew, including US singer-songwriter Beyoncé (C) and her husband, US rapper Jay-Z (R) as she attends the European premiere of the film The Lion King in London on July 14, 2019. (Photo by Niklas HALLE'N / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images)
Britain's Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (C) and Britain's Meghan, Duchess of Sussex (R) arrive to attend the European premiere of the film The Lion King in London on July 14, 2019. (Photo by Niklas HALLE'N / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend "The Lion King" European Premiere at Leicester Square on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Meghan Duchess of Sussex attends the European Premiere of "The Lion King" at Odeon Luxe Leicester Square on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/WireImage)
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Matthew Broderick’s kids aren’t the world’s biggest Lion King fans

Actors generally regard a role in a Disney movie as a gift to their offspring. But as Matthew Broderick discovered, that gift can be rejected. During a 2016 Role Recall with Yahoo Entertainment, the Ferris Bueller’s Day Off star explained that he agreed to voice adult Simba with his future children in mind. “I was in Ireland in the summer, and I got a call to be a lion. It was just when Disney movies were really coming back. I thought if I ever do have kids, it will be good to have this.” At the time he recorded the role, Broderick was single. Three years after the film’s release, he married Sarah Jessica Parker, and they now have three children. Apparently, The Lion King isn’t a family movie night staple in the Broderick-Parker household, though. “[I didn’t realize] they would have to watch the father get trampled to death,” he says, chuckling. “I’ve learned it’s not as fun to watch with kids as you might think.”

Killing Bambi’s mom paved the way for killing Simba’s dad

Broderick’s kids aren’t the only ones left traumatized by Mufasa’s fatal plunge. The lion king’s death ranks up there with the murder of Bambi’s mother as one of the most scarring moments from a children’s movie. And Minkhoff told Yahoo Entertainment in 2017 that Bambi was very much on their minds, but not in the way you might expect. “It’s really sad, and then they go to this new spring song, where the birds are singing in the trees,” the director notes about the way Bambi’s mother vanishes from the film after her shooting. “It’s really disturbing.”

Rather than repeat history, Minkhoff and Allers decided to show Simba finding his dad’s body. “We were thinking that [Simba] needs to deal with the fact that his father died. We need to bring some closure to it. And the fact that later in the story, his father does come back to him, in a very meaningful and important way, kind of closes the loop. It’s not that he really does die and disappear forever, which I find much more disturbing.”

But is it more disturbing for kids? We asked sociologist and author of Scream: Chilling Adventures in the Science of Fear, Margee Kerr, to weigh in on the different treatments of the death of a parent in Bambi and The Lion King earlier this year. “For a young child, not seeing the actual death scene might be better, because it doesn’t bring into focus ideas about brutality,” she explained. “Just the idea of someone not being out of here anymore is different than here is a person or an animal that I’m seeing die. But both can serve as opportunities to have conversations with you kids about what it all means.”

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