Thursday, September 28, 2023

Jeremy Irons

 A belated Happy Birthday to actor Jeremy Irons, who turned 75 on the 19th of this month.

Whenever he does a talk show to promote a recent role for a film or a TV project, he is still introduced to the audience as the voice of Scar. He offered me such a gift with his tremendous dialogue recordings for the character. Some scenes seemed to animate themselves, because of his high caliber of acting. Irons' performance didn't just make Scar evil, there is also intelligence as well as humor. Scar loved to to be bad.

Quite a few years after The Lion King had its amazing movie theatre run, I met up with producer Don Hahn at an English pub in Burbank for lunch. We were just catching up with each other, as we talked about the state of animation, future projects etc. Suddenly Jeremy Irons walks into the pub, grabs an ashtray and sits down at an outside table. He hadn't noticed us. 

We finished our lunch and were eager to say Hello. It turned out that Jeremy was studying a script with an acting partner that day. They were both going to perform in an upcoming production of Camelot at the Hollywood Bowl. So we all chatted a bit, when Jeremy came up with an interesting statement: "I must not have done a good job with Scar." Don and I looked at each other. "Of course you did, you were brilliant." His response was that ever since he had voiced Scar, there had not been any other offers for him to do an animated character. (Not just from Disney, from any studio!) He was definitely disappointed. 

I can't remember if it was Don or myself who explained to him that his voice had become so recognizable to millions of people, that any new animated role he would play would sound like Scar. That had to be the reason. I recall having watched a (gruesome) National Geographic documentary about a large pride of lions that specialized in hunting elephants. It was narrated by Irons, and sounded exactly like Scar was telling you the story about this unusual pride. 

So maybe Scar will remain his only animated role, who knows?


  1. that's definitely true that some voice actors are so recognizable it's hard to separate them from their most famous character. Though I'm surprised if he wasn't asked to do any of those movies where they seemingly cast by grabbing as many famous names as possible.

    He didn't do Scar in video games/sequels/etc. right?

    1. Not sure if he did games/sequels. But I understand he did do a line for the new Disney short "Once Upon a Studio".

    2. @Andreas Deja
      Hello mister Deja. I'm a fan of your work since many years now and i grew with movies like the lion king and Hercules that inspired me as a visual development artist. I bought your children book Puss in boots. It is possible to send you the book to return it to me with a personalized drawing please ? (I live in France).

  2. Terrific casting indeed (and brilliant animation!).

  3. Scar voiced by another actor is simply unimaginable.

    I actually just saw The Lion King in theaters earlier today and I was especially taken back by how evil the character is— and I mean that in the religious way the connotation implies. He’s Cain to Mufasa’s Abel and the father of lies/accuser trying to destroy Simba under the weight of his “transgressions”. I actually can’t think of any other example in pop culture that exemplifies the archetype so well. When such evil is conveyed in live action films the result is often “cartoony”, yet when done skillfully in animation the result is transcendent— definitely wouldn’t had worked without the “humor and intelligence” you mentioned.

    I’m so glad I got to see again in theatres and if it comes back for the 30th anniversary next year I’ll be there.

    The whole movie still holds up as the classic it is in large part because of the character design and Mr Irons’ voice work. He did great with the song too and it really serves the character and story development. It’s shocking to hear that he had doubts about his performance— he out “Darth Vader-ed”
    James Earl Jones!

    Oh and for anyone wondering about the documentary, it’s called “The Last Lions” (2011). The clips on YouTube all have comments quoting Scar.

    Maybe if he is still looking for an animated role you guys could collab on a short? Your fans can dream!

  4. It is always a pleasure to watch the attidude of scar and listen to the voice of Jeremy Irons.👍🤩
    I grown up with the voice of Thomas Fritsch (the German voice of Jeremy Irons).
    I think it won't be easy to find a great actor like hin...

    I hope Irons get a chance for a new animated role! 👍😊

  5. I remember reading on Paul Astell's "Feeling Animated" blog ( that Irons was considered for the role of Pharaoh Seti I in DreamWorks' THE PRINCE OF EGYPT, though they ultimately cast Patrick Stewart in the role. (On a tangentially related note, they thought of casting James Earl Jones -- Mufasa, himself -- as the Midianite leader Jethro, though Danny Glover got the part in the end.)