The Lion King: Beyoncé's New Secret Song and How She Helped Director Jon Favreau's 'Cool' Stock Rise

(L-R): Recording artist Beyonce attends the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards on January 28, 2018 in New York City. Jon Favreau speaks onstage at Tribeca Talks: Jon Favreau with Scarlett Johansson during 2017 Tribeca Film Festival on April 21, 2017 in New York City.
Photo: Christopher Polk (Getty Images for NARAS), Theo Wargo (Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)

Beyoncé said “let me upgrade you,” and that doesn’t just apply to Jay-Z.

The Lion King’s Jon Favreau knows what that’s like, too. Well, when it comes to how “cool” he is with his family, that is. In an exclusive interview with Fandango, the much-anticipated film’s director chatted about the one thing I’m sure that entire cast and crew is asked about: What’s it like to work with Beyoncé?

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Well, for one, Favreau totally stanned out when he realized Bey was confirmed as Nala.

“I was pretty stoked because I knew my stock was going to rise in my home,” he laughed. “Dad got cool for about a week there because my daughters and my wife are huge fans and I was introduced to her music through them, and so it felt exciting. And then, you remember, this was about three years ago, and so really understanding who she is and what she represents to so many people and the fact that she’s collaborating with me on this really helps differentiate it from previous productions. It helps give this production its own personality, because she’s such an important figure and her musical interpretation is seen as something that people welcome.”

Favreau also talked about expanding both Nala’s and Sarabi’s (Alfre Woodard) role in the film. After all, in a lion’s pride, the female lions are the baddest bitches.

“In the original film, her role is not as large as in the stage production, and we definitely drew inspiration, and that was one of the areas where we were going to expand this,” he said. “There’s an opportunity to build upon especially the female characters of Sarabi played by Alfre Woodard and Nala played by Beyoncé that the stage play explores further. It has a lot more time to do so than the original film. That was an area that we could build upon the original.”

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Due to the power of Elton John and Hans Zimmer, everyone knows the soundtrack is one of the primary aspects of what makes The Lion King so iconic. The 2019 film’s soundtrack was recently released for pre-order, along with a track listing. Fans can look forward to all of the familiar songs from the original animated film (some of the Broadway version’s songs aren’t included, though), but of course, everyone’s eyes lit up in curiosity at Track #14, which is currently listed as “TBA.”

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Well, thanks to Favreau, we have a bit more detail. The secret song will be a solo joint by Beyoncé!

“We have all the original songs, but there’s a song that she performed and wrote in the spirit of the production along with working with Lebo M., who’s part of it with Hans Zimmer,” Favreau confirmed. “They were all collaborating with her and helping to bring this new piece of music into a film where there’s already a very established musical personality to the piece. So it was nice of them to have them working with her to allow the new song to feel organically a part of the new production.”

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The Lion King pounces into theaters on July 19, 2019.

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About the author

Tonja Renée Stidhum

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.