- At the moment, Disney has remade 12 of their animated classics into live-action (or something close to live-action) movies, plus two more live-action sequels.
- They also have at least 20 more remakes planned.
- Here’s how all the live-action – or intensely realistically animated, in the case of “The Lion King” – characters compare to their animated counterparts.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
As of late, Disney has been leaning into the live-action remake. In 2019, they released live, or close to live, versions of “Dumbo,” “Aladdin,” “The Lion King,” and “Lady and the Tramp.” This year, they were set to release “Mulan,” but it’s been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
We’ve compared all the major live-action Disney characters to their original, animated counterparts. You might be surprised how similar – or different – they are.
The live-action remake of “Mulan” was supposed to be released in March 2020, but was delayed due to the coronavirus. Mulan is played by Liu Yifei.
“Mulan” is the first of Disney’s live-action remakes to earn a PG-13 rating.
Tzi Ma plays Hua Zhou, Mulan’s father and army veteran. His name was Fa Zhou in the original.
Ma is best known for his roles in “The Man in the High Castle,” and “24,” and appeared in the breakout film “The Farewell” as the father of Awkwafina’s character.
Rosalind Chao is playing Mulan’s mother, Hua Li. Her name in the original was Fa Li.
The 2020 film changed Mulan’s family name from Fa to Hua.
The Emperor of China is played by martial arts legend Jet Li.
The Emperor looks like he will play a larger role in the live-action remake, which makes sense, given Li’s icon status.
The ill-tempered matchmaker will be played by Cheng Pei-pei.
The Matchmaker’s scene in the original film is one of the most memorable.
Nelson Lee will play the Chancellor, a character based on Chi Fu, the Emperor’s right-hand man.
In addition to these characters, Jimmy Wong, Doua Moua, and Chen Tang will play Mulan’s friends Ling, Chien-Po, and Yao, respectively. There hasn’t been footage of them released yet.
Four of the 1998’s film’s most iconic characters, Mushu, Li Shang, Shan Yu, and Grandmother Fa aren’t appearing in the live-action version.
A live-action “Lady and the Tramp” movie premiered on Disney Plus on November 12. All the animals, including Lady here, are rescue animals in real life. She’s voiced by Tessa Thompson.
Lady’s part is played by the real dog Rose, a Cocker Spaniel, while her voice is none other than Thompson.
Overall, the movie seems pretty similar to the original, with a few much-needed updates.
Her love interest, Tramp, is played by Justin Theroux.
Theroux is a vocal advocate for rescue dogs, and has become quite close with Monty, who plays Tramp. Monty was rescued from a kill shelter in New Mexico, but has since been adopted by an animal trainer.
One of the film’s most iconic songs, “He’s a Tramp” is sung by a Pekingese named Peg. Janelle Monáe lent her voice to the 2019 film.
In the original film, Peg was voiced by famed jazz singer Peggy Lee. Lee also wrote the lyrics to the film’s other famous song, “Bella Notte.”
Scottish actress Ashley Jensen plays a gender-swapped version of one of Lady’s friends, a Scottish terrier named Jock.
Jock was originally played by a man, an actor named Bill Thompson. Thompson was born and raised in the US, though.
Jock’s loyal friend Trusty is voiced by Sam Elliott.
Elliott’s casting is absolutely perfect.
Benedict Wong plays another stray, a bulldog fittingly named Bull.
While Bull might look scary, he’s really just a sweetheart in both versions.
Aunt Sarah’s Siamese cats, originally named Si and Am, have definitely not aged well. The 2019 versions named Rex and Devon are a welcome update.
In the new version, the cats sing a brand new song called “What a Shame.” They’re also gender-swapped into male cats, played by frequent Janelle Monáe collaborators Nate Wonder and Roman GianArthur.
The original cats were voiced by Peggy Lee, a white actress, who put on a stereotypical Asian accent for their song, “The Siamese Cat Song.” The song, and those cats, are not missed.
The crotchety Aunt Sarah is played by Yvette Nicole Brown.
While Brown’s iteration of the character adds some laughs to the movie, she still gets told off in the end.
Lady’s live-action owners Jim and Darling Dear are played by Thomas Mann and Kiersey Clemons, respectively.
In the original, you rarely see the faces of Lady’s owners, but Clemons and Mann have much more to do in the new film.
Another “live-action” remake of 2019 was “The Lion King,” which premiered on July 18. Reprising his role as Mufasa is the original king of Pride Rock, James Earl Jones.
Jones’ commanding yet warm voice was the obvious choice for Mufasa in 1994, and there’s still no one better to voice the character, so he just did it again.
This movie isn’t literally “live-action,” it’s filled with photorealistic, animated animals. But even director Jon Favreau isn’t sure if the movie should be considered “animated” or not.
The younger version of Simba, the eventual titular Lion King, is voiced by JD McCrary.
Little Simba goes through a lot over the course of this movie, including learning about the circle of life, surviving a wildebeest stampede, watching his father die, grappling with being the cause of his father’s death – or so he thinks – and exiling himself away from his family, all within the first hour of the movie.
The adult version of Simba is played by Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino.
Glover’s friend, collaborator, and apparent “Lion King” enthusiast Chance the Rapper was brought on as a “nostalgia consultant” during the making of the film, to make sure it retained the same spirit as the original.
Simba’s childhood friend Nala is played by “Us” star Shahadi Wright Joseph.
At first, Simba and Nala are grossed out by the prospect of falling in love, but as they grow up, their relationship matures.
The grown-up Nala is played by the Queen Bey herself, Beyoncé. Once Simba and Nala grow up, they develop feelings for each other.
She also released a new song for the movie’s soundtrack called “Spirit.” Additionally, Beyoncé produced and curated an album that will be “steeped in the sounds of Africa” called “The Lion King: The Gift.”
Seth Rogen and Billy Eichner play the dynamic duo of meerkat Timon and warthog Pumbaa. They add some much needed comic relief to the movie.
Timon and Pumbaa became breakout stars of the original 1994 version. They narrate the direct-to-video sequel/prequel “The Lion King 1 1/2,” and received their own animated TV show, “The Lion King’s Timon & Pumbaa.”
“Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver voices Mufasa’s second-in-command, Zazu.
While Mufasa is busy attending to kingly business, he acts as a guardian for Simba. After Mufasa’s death, Zazu remains loyal to the rightful king, Simba.
The film’s villain, Scar, is played by Chiwetel Ejiofor.
Scar is actually Mufasa’s brother and Simba’s uncle, making his betrayal all the more painful.
Simba’s mother, Sarabi, is played by Alfre Woodard.
Sarabi doesn’t have much to do in the original film, so it’s nice to see her have more agency in the 2019 film.
The mystical mandrill shaman Rafiki is played by John Kani.
Rafiki plays an integral role in helping Simba understand his rightful place as king of the Pride Lands.
Kani was last seen in “Black Panther” as T’Challa’s deceased father King T’Chaka. The movie had a scene that reminded many viewers of a pivotal Rafiki scene in the original “Lion King.”
The only hyena from the original version that makes the jump to 2019 is Shenzi, played by Florence Kasumba. Her other two sidekicks are switched up for the remake.
Originally, the three hyenas were Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed. But the 2019 film switches Banzai and Ed out for Azizi, played by Eric André, and Kamari, played by Keegan-Michael Key.
In the May 2019 remake of the 1992 version of “Aladdin,” the titular character is played by Mena Massoud.
Massoud might be familiar to “Jack Ryan” fans. He plays Ryan’s colleague, Tarek Kassar. As Insider’s Kirsten Acuna noted,Massoud’s portrayal of Aladdin is one of the movie’s high notes.
Princess Jasmine is played by Naomi Scott.
Jasmine differentiates herself from other Disney princesses by actually refusing to get married, as opposed to aspiring to it. In the 2019 version, the princess even gets her own song, and a brand-new motivation to become the first female sultan of Agrabah.
Will Smith has giant shoes to fill in his role as the Genie.
The Genie was made iconic by the late Robin Williams in the animated version. While Smith doesn’t come close to Williams’ hyperactive, pop culture loving, frequently transfigured Genie, he successfully puts his own spin on the character. He even gets to rap!
The evil Jafar is played by Marwan Kenzari.
The biggest change that the live action movie makes is … turning the villainous Grand Vizier Jafar into what the internet has dubbed “Hot Jafar.” We can’t disagree – Kenzari is clearly a good looking guy.
A decidedly wiser version of the Sultan was played by Navid Negahban.
In the original animated classic, the Sultan is essentially a bumbling old man – he means well, but he’s not exactly a commanding presence.
Negahban’s Sultan is wiser and less easily manipulated by Jafar. He’s stubborn about forcing his daughter to marry a prince and not letting Jasmine succeed him as sultan, but they’re on more equal footing intellectually than their animated counterparts.
The only characters from “Dumbo” to make the leap from the animated movie to the live action remake are Dumbo himself and his mother in the first live-action remake of 2019.
In both the 1941 original and the 2019 remake, Dumbo is a silent character. The rest of the movie drastically differs by adding multiple new human characters, both heroic and villainous, and taking away some problematic aspects of the animated film, like the crows and the scary scene in which Dumbo hallucinates.
Ewan McGregor played a grown-up version of Christopher Robin in 2018’s “Christopher Robin.”
Traditionally, Winnie the Pooh’s human bestie is a child, but this movie aged him up quite a bit. “Christopher Robin” shows Christopher after he’s grown up and left the One Hundred Acre Wood behind, so it’s not based on any specific animated movie, but rather the characters themselves.
Veteran voice actor Jim Cummings played Winnie the Pooh.
Cummings has been voicing the honey-loving bear since 1988 when he took over for Hal Smith.
Comedian Nick Mohammed voiced Piglet.
This was Mohammed’s first time voicing Piglet, who has most recently been played by Travis Oates.
Jim Cummings also voiced the boisterous Tigger.
Cummings began voicing Tigger in 1990, taking over for longtime voice actor Paul Winchell.
Brad Garrett played the ever-relatable Eeyore.
The perpetually morose Eeyore has been voiced by Garrett previously in an animated special for Disney.
The neurotic Rabbit was played by Peter Capaldi.
Capaldi is known around the world for his stint as the Twelfth Doctor in “Doctor Who.”
Mother and daughter duo Kanga and Roo were played by Sophie Okonedo and Sara Sheen, respectively.
Roo is normally a boy, but the film gender-swapped her for a girl.
Toby Jones played the wise Owl.
Owl, like Rabbit, Kanga, and Roo, doesn’t make the trek from the One Hundred Acre Wood to the real world.
Emma Watson played Belle in the 2017 remake of “Beauty and the Beast.”
The 2017 film was pretty much a shot-for-shot remake of the 1991 classic, so there wasn’t much difference between the two.
Dan Stevens wore a comically large motion capture suit to shoot his scenes as the Beast.
But Stevens also got to show off his real face towards the end.
Canonically speaking, the Beast doesn’t have a real name.
Kevin Kline played a slightly more normal version of Belle’s father, Maurice.
The 2017 film also gave Belle’s deceased mother more of a backstory, and delved into Maurice’s love for her.
The villainous — and comically vain — Gaston was played by Luke Evans.
No word if Evans ate five dozen eggs every day to get in character.
Josh Gad played Gaston’s loyal henchman, LeFou.
The dashing candelabra Lumiere was voiced by Ewan McGregor.
Lumiere’s best known for the iconic Disney anthem “Be Our Guest.” Human Lumiere was just as charming.
And Ian McKellan voiced the clock version of the anxious Cogsworth.
He ended up being a softy at heart, though.
Emma Thompson took over for Angela Lansbury as talking teapot Mrs. Potts.
Just like in the original, Mrs. Potts sings “Beauty and the Beast” during the famous ballroom dancing scene.
Nathan Mack made his movie debut voicing the adorable chipped teacup, Chip.
Though, don’t think too hard about how Chip can exist within the rules of this universe.
Newcomer Neel Sethi played Mowgli in the 2016 remake of “The Jungle Book.”
This is not to be confused with the 2018 Netflix film “Mowgli.” The 2016 movie adheres closely to the animated movie, while “Mowgli” is more loosely based on Rudyard Kipling’s original books.
Bill Murray played loveable bear Baloo.
“I just couldn’t say no to playing Baloo,” said Murray in the film’s press kit.
Iconic British actor Ben Kingsley played Bagheera.
“Jungle Book” director Jon Favreau has worked with Kingsley before in “Iron Man 3.” Favreau played loyal Iron Man sidekick Happy Hogan, and Kingsley took on the mantle of The Mandarin, one of Iron Man’s most famous adversaries.
Christopher Walken played a more frightening version of King Louie.
For the remake, King Louie was changed from an orangutan to an extinct species, Gigantopithecus, which is essentially a giant ape.
Idris Elba voiced the vengeful tiger Shere Khan.
Elba was so impressed with the technology that he had to ask the filmmakers if it was a real tiger on screen.
Scarlett Johansson played a gender-swapped Kaa.
In the original, Kaa was voiced by a man, Sterling Holloway, but Johansson took over the role because Favreau felt the film was too male-heavy.
“Breaking Bad” star Giancarlo Esposito voiced Akela.
Akela, the leader of the wolf pack Mowgli is adopted by, played a smaller role in the 1967 version.
Lupita Nyong’o played Raksha.
Raksha is the adoptive mother of Mowgli who discovers him as an abandoned baby – though she doesn’t speak in the original.
Lily James starred as Cinderella in the 2015 remake of the same name.
The biggest difference between the “Cinderella” films is that the live action version isn’t a musical. Say goodbye to all your faves like “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” and “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo.”
James’ dress took 4,000 hours to create.
Her Prince Charming was played by Richard Madden.
In the 1950 original, the prince is just referred to as The Prince. Madden’s prince gets a name: Kit.
Cate Blanchett played evil stepmother Lady Tremaine.
The remake tried to give her more dimension, but she was still just plain despicable.
Evil stepsisters Anastasia and Drisella were played by Holliday Grainger and Sophie McShera.
Their costumes are even more outlandish than their animated counterparts’.
Helena Bonham Carter played the Fairy Godmother.
After a few years of playing villains (Bellatrix Lestrange in “Harry Potter” and Madame Thénardier in “Les Mis,” to name a few), Carter got to play the magical and benevolent Fairy Godmother.
Angelina Jolie put a spin on the villain of “Sleeping Beauty” by making her the focus of her own film, “Maleficent,” in 2014.
The 2014 film rehashed the same story, but from Maleficent’s perspective. Turns out, Maleficent was way more complicated than the original allowed her to be.
Elle Fanning played Aurora, aka Sleeping Beauty.
In this version, Aurora saw Maleficent as her guardian angel, not a villain.
Aurora’s prince Phillip was played by Brenton Thwaites.
Thwaites was replaced by Harris Dickinson for the 2019 sequel “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.”
Aurora’s father, King Stefan, was played by South African actor Sharlto Copley.
The King wasn’t so developed in the original, but he’s downright malicious in “Maleficent.”
Tim Burton remade the 1951 “Alice in Wonderland” in 2010 starring Mia Wasikowska as Alice.
The 2010 movie aged up Alice from a young girl to 19 years old, and combined the original animated movie with scenes from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice” books by adding in the White Queen and the beastly Jabberwocky.
Johnny Depp played a more tortured version of the Mad Hatter.
The Mad Hatter’s backstory was explored more in the 2016 sequel, “Alice Through the Looking Glass.”
Helena Bonham Carter reunited with Depp and Burton once again to play the Queen of Hearts.
The trio had previously worked together in “Sweeney Todd,” “Corpse Bride,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” and “Dark Shadows.”
The March Hare was voiced by Welsh actor Paul Whitehouse.
Whitehouse also appeared in deleted scenes of “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” as Sir Cadogan, a bumbling knight inside a painting.
Michael Sheen voiced the harried White Rabbit.
Sheen said playing the White Rabbit was “just like a dream come true.”
Comedian Stephen Fry played the smiling Cheshire Cat.
Burton’s Cheshire Cat has a more muted colour palette.
Both Tweedledee and Tweedledum were played by Matt Lucas.
Their names have since become shorthand for two people who act and dress in the exact same way – it’s usually not a compliment.
Alan Rickman played the Caterpillar.
Glenn Close played the terrifying Cruella de Vil in the 1996 version of “101 Dalmatians” — the very first Disney live-action remake.
Close was one of two actors to reprise her role in the 2000 sequel “102 Dalmatians.” Besides changing the time period from the ’60s to the ’90s, the remake sticks to the plot of the original.
Jeff Daniels played Roger, one of the owners of the titular Dalmatians.
Roger is the owner of Pongo, the father of all the puppies.
Joely Richardson played Anita, Roger’s wife and employee of Cruella.
Anita owns Perdy, the mother of all the puppies. Anita and Roger, like Pongo and Perdy, are married.
Mark Williams played one of Cruella’s henchman, Horace.
You might recognise Williams from his role as Arthur Weasley in the “Harry Potter” films.
And that’s Hugh Laurie as Jasper, Cruella’s other henchman.
Laurie, of course, is best known for his role as Dr. Gregory House in “House.”
- Read more:
- The biggest changes between Disney animated movies and their live-action remakes
- 21 celebrities that are totally obsessed with Disney
- 28 celebrities you didn’t realise voiced Disney characters
- Here’s the cast of Disney’s live-action ‘Lady and the Tramp’ and who they’re voicing
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