Lion King star Chiwetel Ejiofor has said his portrayal of villainous uncle Scar will be different to Jeremy Irons’ famed performance in the original film.
Disney’s photorealistic computer-animated remake of the beloved 1994 classic boasts a star-studded cast, including Donald Glover as king-in-waiting Simba and Beyonce Knowles-Carter voicing his love interest, Nala.
The original saw Irons deliver a menacing performance as the Machiavellian usurper of the throne, Scar, who convinces Simba he was responsible for the death of his father, Mufasa, in order to become king.
Oscar-nominee Ejiofor lends his voice to Scar for the remake and said while his fellow British star Irons’ portrayal was “iconic”, any two actors would naturally produce different results.
Speaking at The Lion King premiere in Los Angeles, he told PA: “I didn’t really think about differentiating, I love what Jeremy Irons did with Scar, it’s so iconic, so amazing and I’m so thrilled to be playing the same part.
“But you just bring however it is you feel about something, how you, not necessarily sympathise, but certainly empathise with a character and the different ways you might get into the psychology of a character and of course that inevitably means that it’s different.
“Any two different people will approach it in a different way, so that’s exciting.”
Ejiofor, who won critical acclaim for his portrayal of Solomon Northup in 2013’s 12 Years a Slave, added: “I was very excited about the psychology, just understanding trying to get into that mindset.”
The Lion King is one of Disney’s most beloved properties and proved to be a huge commercial and critical success upon release.
Its soundtrack, by Sir Elton John and Sir Time Rice, contains hits including Can You Feel The Love Tonight, Circle Of Life and Hakuna Matata, with some songs appearing on the remake.
Despite the beloved legacy of the original, Glover said he was not intimidated by taking on the role of Simba.
He said: “No, it’s kind of like seeing a bathtub full of jello and you have to eat all of it in an hour.
“You’re kind of like ‘this isn’t going to work but whatever because it’s too much’. I feel like it’s too much of a thing to even get worried about.
“I was more concerned just having fun and trusting Jon Favreau. He’s an amazing director – he did such a good job with allowing us to have fun and do what we wanted and make it feel fresh.
“And I just want my kids to enjoy it. I think it’s a good global film.”
The Lion King will be in UK cinemas on July 19.