The familiar voice of ''The Lion King'' |


The familiar voice of ''The Lion King''

Jonathan Taylor Thomas of ''Home Improvement'' stars as the main character in Disney's new animated feature

“My voice is just a regular kid’s voice — maybe kind of raspy,” says Jonathan Taylor Thomas. Perhaps, but the creative team behind Disney’s summer animated film The Lion King no doubt heard something special in Thomas when it cast the 12-year-old as the voice of Simba, the curious lion cub.

The Lion King is full of familiar voices — Jeremy Irons’, Whoopi Goldberg’s — and Thomas’ is no exception: He can be heard and seen every Wednesday night on ABC’s Home Improvement as the middle son, Randy. Like rascally Randy, the part of Simba called for, in Thomas’ words, “an energetic cockiness. But I didn’t have to invent a new voice or anything, I just had to talk with a real kid spirit.”

Since Thomas completed The Lion King, his vocal cords have been in heavy demand: Currently he’s the voice of Spot the Dog in Disney’s line of home videos for toddlers. And he’s now filming Man 2 Man with Chevy Chase.

Playing animated animals is fine with Thomas, but his dream role would be the young Hannibal Lecter. “Imagine that character as a 12-year-old kid,” Thomas says. “He’d probably already be nuts, but the voice would be soothing, manipulative. Now that would be fun.” Talk about a hungry young actor.

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