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John Oliver Cast As Bird. Just His Voice, Not His Body. #SAD

By Tori Preston | Industry | July 12, 2017 |

By Tori Preston | Industry | July 12, 2017 |

I think we can all agree that John Oliver deserves all the good things in life. Well, everyone except those anti-vaxxers in my Facebook feed who felt so betrayed by Oliver after his recent Last Week Tonight segment on vaccination (I see you now, randos I went to high school with, and I will definitely not be letting my future theoretical imaginary maybe-progeny near yours).

Anyway, one of the many good things that Oliver deserves is a piece of that sweet, sweet Disney money-pie (#TeamPie), which apparently he’s going to get now that he’s joined the cast of Jon Favreau’s upcoming live action remake of The Lion King. He’ll be playing Zazu, the sassy hornbill majordomo who served both Mufasa (reprised by James Earl Jones because you don’t fuck with Vader) and Simba (played by Donald Glover, because having Vader in the movie isn’t enough Disney synergy so why not add baby Lando?). In the circle of life, lions totally need help from birds. And apparently this casting is in spite of Oliver’s previously expressed opinion that birds are just a shitty sequel to the dinosaurs.

I joke, but it’s really from a place of pain and disappointment. When I hear all these incredible stars are joining a so-called “live action” remake, I want them IN COSTUME, AS A BIRD/LION/WARTHOG/WHATEVER. You know, performing the roles as living beings, like they did on Broadway (preferably with stilts). When it’s a voice cast, no matter how impressive (Billy Eichner and Seth Rogan are playing Timon and Pumbaa, which is also perfect), it makes me think it’s animated. Like, you know, the original Lion King? I get that Favreau pulled all this off with his version of The Jungle Book, but that film also gave rise to this:

jb idris.jpg

Is that Idris Elba cuddling a giant tiger, like he does in my dreams? No, that’s Idris Elba sitting next to Shere Khan, the character he voiced in The Jungle Book, as part of the marketing for the film that tried to leverage his good looks without putting them in the damn movie. You know when chicks post “thirsty” pics on Instagram? I don’t know what that means, but I think it might be similar to this.

Now, let’s take a moment and imagine a version of The Jungle Book where Idris Elba, in elaborate makeup, actually PLAYED the tiger. Or John Oliver is made up to play a bird, harassing Donald Glover in a lion’s mane. I want to live in a world that gives us those kinds of movies, is what I’m saying.

Anyway, more John Oliver is never a bad thing. The Lion King is currently set for a July 19, 2019 release.

Tori Preston is the managing editor of Pajiba. She tweets here. You can also listen to her weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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