Elton John Was ‘Mortified’ Over Original ‘The Lion King’ Song, Says Nathan Lane

Nathan Lane says Elton John didn’t feel much love for the original “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” plan for the “Lion King” soundtrack.

Lane told Entertainment Weekly that his animated character Timon was supposed to duet the full “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” with Pumbaa (Ernie Sabella), as opposed to just having a cameo on the track.

“Originally, we sang the whole thing,” Lane said. “Elton John was mortified that the warthog and the meerkat were singing it. He said, ‘The reason I wrote the score was because I wanted to have a Disney love song. I didn’t want it to be sung by the rat and the pig.’”

Disney deferred to the guy who recorded “Tiny Dancer.”

“We did [record] a version,” Lane said. “We sang the whole thing in our character voices. It wasn’t like we were going to do our legit Broadway version. We were doing two very character-type voices. It’s hard to do that and be romantic. Elton was right.”

Instead, Timon and Pumbaa got “Hakuna Matata,” and Sir Elton’s “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” went on to win the Oscar for Best Original Song.

“Thankfully, everyone came to their senses,” Lane added.

“The Lion King” is getting yet another rendition with the digitally animated prequel “Mufasa: The Lion King” directed by Academy Award winner Barry Jenkins. Billy Eichner reprises his voice-acting role for Timon — he took the role over for Lane since Jon Favreau’s 2019 live-action “The Lion King” — with Seth Rogen again playing Pumbaa.

Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and Donald Glover are also both back as Nala and Simba, with Knowles-Carter’s daughter Blue Ivy Carter joining the cast as Nala and Simba’s daughter Kiara. Lin-Manuel Miranda penned the new film’s songs.

“‘The Lion King’ has an incredible musical legacy with music from some of the greatest songwriters around, and I’m humbled and proud to be a part of it,” Miranda said in a press statement. “Elton John. Tim Rice. Hans Zimmer. Lebo M. Mark Mancina. Beyoncé, Labrinth, Ilya Salmanzadeh. Beau Black, Ford Riley, the incredible music team on ‘The Lion Guard,’ and so many musical contributors over the years. It’s been a joy working alongside Barry Jenkins to bring Mufasa’s story to life, and we can’t wait for audiences to experience this film in theaters.” 

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