Even though it has been almost three decades since Disney’s original animated The Lion King became one of the biggest animated critical successes of all time, there are some fans who are only now making a bizarre discovery about one of the voice actors in the classic film. It seems that despite it being well known that the cast included many famous faces, some people are only just realizing that the voice of Zazu is none other than Mr. Bean actor Rowan Atkinson.
I have always been a lover of playing “guess the voice” when watching animated features, so this news comes as no surprise to me, but it seems that unlike James Earl Jones, whose distinctive tone gave Mufasa such an iconic voice that he could not be replaced in the 2019 live-action remake, 66 year old Atkinson’s participation has been something that has gone unnoticed by many, only justifiable by throwing in for consideration the fact that as Mr. Bean, he doesn’t actually do much talking. However, for anyone who knows Atkinson’s other work such as Black Adder, the Johnny English movies or his turns in the likes of Love Actually and Four Weddings and A Funeral, there really is no excuse.
Whether it is just an American thing, or simply one of those really unusual anomalies of life, it seems that a TikTok video posted by movie fan Ryan__M, in which he declared his disbelief at the discovery, started a whole wave of fellow fans eager to add their own surprise in comments posted on the video. The short clip features Rowan Atkinson reading the part of Zazu during the song “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King”, and has been viewed more than 2 million times on the popular social media app.
Among the comments, user Raiganlegge00 said “How did I not know this??”, while Stephmcintoshx added, “Omg 30 and just found this out.” and Romeo I’m Waiting said: “I thought his voice was familiar-this all makes sense now.”
For those who aren’t aware of the stellar cast involved in the original animated classic, let me run through some of the other voices that may have a familiar ring to them. Whoopi Goldberg and the voice of Whinnie The Pooh, Jim Cummings, lent their voice to Shenzi and Ed the Hyenas respectively, while comedy actor Nathan Lane played meerkat, Timon. In addition, there are even some who have missed the fact that Matthew Broderick played grown-up Simba. Yes, it’s true. I’m sure there are people out there who have managed to go for decades without being aware of other big name stars who have voiced some of the most loved animated Disney characters of the past.
Like most of the cast of the original version of the The Lion King, Rowan Atkinson did not reprise his role in the live-action remake, passing on the role of Zazu to John Oliver who managed to keep some of Atkinson’s nuances alive while providing his own take on the voice. Are you one of those surprised by some of the people behind the voices or is this all just something that you took for granted was common knowledge?