Jim Cummings Laughs it Up About His Role in ‘The Lion King’ (Sep 26, 2011)

Jim Cummings Laughs it Up About His Role in ‘The Lion King’
Winnie the Pooh Voice Actor Talks About Ed the Hyena
By Eric Shirey | Yahoo! Contributor Network – Mon, Sep 26, 2011 11:12 AM EDT

Jim Cummings is most notably the voice of Winnie the Pooh. I spoke with Cummings about his role in “The Lion King” as Ed the Hyena while he was promoting the Blu-ray/DVD release of the film.

Did you have to go back into the studio and re-record any of your original lines for the re-release and restoration of “The Lion King?

I took the precaution of sounding like I was in 3D from the very beginning [laughter]. Those guys [at Disney] are some serious sound wizards. I would venture to say there was a serious remix going on there.

How did your casting for the role of Ed the Hyena come about?

The casting call went out and they [Directors Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff] had certain people in there for the leads. You can’t go wrong with James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons, and Matthew Broderick. You get down to those secondary roles and they wanted semi-funny people who could also put a little menace in there. Enter Cheech Marin, Whoopi Goldberg, and Jim Cummings. They knew what they needed and wanted Ed to be a cross between a sight gag, a running gag, and an audio video gag throughout the movie. I ended up laughing and here I am laughing about it all these years later.

Did you do any work in the studio with other voice actors for “The Lion King?”

No. We always fly solo. The one good indication of that is I have sung any number of times and I have done harmony within the body of a song with people who were not there. They have it down to a science and it does make sense. That’s so the producers and directors can isolate this take and match it up with that one. They can say, “This works against this read and that works against that read.” They can really put it together in a cohesive fashion that way. You do miss an amount of the interaction but I guess it all comes out in the wash.

What was the biggest challenge for you working on “The Lion King?”

The guys wanted that sort of comedy relief. “This isn’t the kind of character you can write dialogue for,” Rob commented. I remember Rob [Minkoff, Director] said, “Everybody get out a legal pad now and write this down: anger, insatiable hunger, bloodlust, betrayal, nervousness, trepidation, hunger” and all these different emotions, subtleties, and nuances. He said, “Assign a laugh for each and every one of these.” We went down the line and at the end, they were all really happy. I looked up at the booth, everybody was jumping up and down, and I said, “OK, how are we doing?” Rob goes, “Well, we’ve got Ed now.” It was very gratifying and a lot of fun.

Why do you think “The Lion King” has stood the test of time?

It can’t go out of style because it’s cut from that classic cloth. There are Biblical and Shakespearean themes. You are invested in the welfare of all these characters in the movie. You’re rooting for the good guys and rooting against the bad guys. It’s good versus evil and triumph of the spirit. These things are timeless. There are no iPods in this movie. It’s part of the fabric now of Americana and of the culture of the world. It’s “The Lion King.” I think we’re all limited to six blu-ray DVD purchases a piece. Any more than six and you would be hoarding.