Nature documentary slash Beyoncé vehicle The Lion King is almost upon us and while reviews have been mixed (largely thanks to it allegedly being a shot-for-shot remake of the original filmed on location in the uncanny valley), Billy Eichner and Seth Rosen have been praised for their lively take on Timon and Pumbaa.
Eichner followed in the footsteps of Nathan Lane, who voiced Timon in Disney’s original animated film. The actor told BuzzFeed he was happy director John Favreau “kept the tradition of Timon being played by a gay actor, with a certain type of comedic sensibility, alive.”
But before you start writing your hardcore Timon/Pumbaa fanfiction, Eichner shout down the idea that the pair might be more than friends. “Timon and Pumbaa are different species — I don’t even think that’s ethically correct, you know, that they would be a couple in some way.” So Eichner doesn’t believe Pumbaa was clapping Timon’s cheeks, but that doesn’t mean, however, that Eichner didn’t let his own identity inform how he played his character.
“I didn’t think about [Timon] being gay so much as I thought, ‘Well, I’m gay, and I have what some may consider a gay sensibility, and I’m going to bring that to the table,’ just the way that Nathan did...I’m certainly not going to shy away from it. In fact, I lean into it more in my performances than I even do in my everyday life.” As anyone who watches Billy on the Street knows very well.