Interview with Robert Guillaume – Part II

This is the second part of an interview with Robert Guillaume, the actor who voiced Rafiki in Disney’s classic The Lion King. With it’s imminent release on Blu-Ray, Guillaume looks back at why the film is so loved, and shares his memories of working on the film.

Front Row Reviews:
17 years ago the Lion King was released, and it’s out again in cinemas and on DVD today. What do you think is so enduring about it?

Robert Guillaume:
Well not to be glib about it I think it must be that the story touches kids in a way that other stories of this genre don’t. I think it touches them very deeply. You have to have seen this show with a child. That’s the best way to see the show.

Yes, I first saw it as a child and I can still remember the emotions of seeing it for the first time.

RG: I saw it two weeks ago at the Hollywood opening of the 3D movie and I hadn’t seen it for quite a while prior to that. And we took a young person with us who was about eight or nine, and he had a ball. I don’t think he connected me with the voice of Rafiki. I think we had told this young person “well your Uncle Robert is Rafiki.” I don’t know whether that stuck or not but he had a ball, he was just laughing out loud, falling all over himself.

FRR: Rafiki himself is a much loved character, what was your approach to voicing him?

Well this was the first animated film I’d been involved in and I was on pins and needles trying to get it right, but when we got there they didn’t have a voice… we didn’t know which kind of voice to use to animate the character, y’know, but we finally found one.

FRR: Obviously the film has a great voice cast. Did you get to work with any of them?

RG: No, I never worked with anyone other than the script and the director, I don’t think we ever worked with anyone else. I mean, they would come in and do theirs, I would come in and do mine, and they would put it together. I mean, it’s amazing to me, the process.

Did you know it was going to be something special when you were stood there in the recording studio?

RG: I’d like to say that I was prescient enough to know this, but I wasn’t. I’ve always been very… uneducated, if you will, in this sense. I don’t know what’s going to make something work or not. I just try to give it my all, my best, and hope for the best.

The rest of the interview can be found here and a review can be found here.

The Lion King is released on Disney Diamond 3D Blu-ray on November 7th

About The Author


Nat (or Nathanael as he calls himself when he wants to sound a bit classier) is a student based in Edinburgh who watches far too many animated films for a guy his age. He even has a blog. dedicated to the subject. When he's not doing that, he's the film editor of The Journal, Edinburgh and a committed member of King's Church Edinburgh. He likes Terrence Malick far, far too much.

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