When The Lion King opens on July 18th, audiences will experience the joy of Timon and Pumbaa. The dynamic duo ages like fine wine, and modern jokes help their scenes feel as fresh as ever. But there’s another reason they are perhaps the most memorable part of the new movie.
Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner recorded all their Lion King sessions together, a highly unusual feat in animated filmmaking. At Disney’s recent press conference, the two of them explained the process a little further. “It was a lot of improvisation with Billy,” Rogen, who plays Pumbaa, revealed.
“We were actually together every time that we recorded, which is a very rare gift to have as someone who is trying to be funny in an animated film, of which I’ve done a lot. You’re often just alone in there. And I think you can really tell that we’re playing off of each other. It’s an incredibly naturalistic feeling.“
Their chemistry resonates onscreen, which is incredibly necessary in making Simba’s years in exile appealing during The Lion King’s second half. Eichner agreed with his costar that the improvisation sealed the deal, saying, “I can’t imagine now looking back not being in the room together. Being able to riff off each other and really discover our chemistry together in the same moment. You can feel it when you’re watching the movie.”
Billy Eichner is Timon Personified
Rogen went on to compliment The Lion King because, “They really captured Billy.” Anyone who’s a fan of Parks and Recreation or Difficult People knows Billy Eichner has a very specific aura, one which Favreau used to great effect in crafting Timon. “He essentially played himself on a TV show for years, and this character is more Billy than that character somehow,” Rogen continued. “It’s remarkable to me how his character specifically makes me laugh so hard.”
Eichner credited the Lion King design department for that, however. “I wish I was as cute in real life as I am in the movie,” he joked. “The Timon they designed is so adorable, and I think the juxtaposition of my personality in that little Timon body really works.”
Regardless of which aspect of Timon contributed most to his success, the partnership with Pumbaa inarguably remains the key ingredient. “I was shocked by how much of the riffing actually ended up in the movie,” Eichner said after watching the final cut of The Lion King. “And I think it works. I think it feels very unique [unlike] other movies in this genre, which can often feel a bit canned.”
Are you excited to see Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner work their magic in The Lion King this weekend? Let us know in the comments below, and check That Hashtag Show for the latest news on your favorite films.