John Kani (Photo: Alison Tu for Disney)
Johannesburg – At an event in Johannesburg on Tuesday, veteran actor Dr John Kani sat down to chat with Channel24 about his role in the live-action remake of Disney's The Lion King.
Dr Kani, who plays Rafiki, says he was approached by director Jon Favreau while still filming Black Panther.
When asked by the director how he would like to portray the character, Dr Kani says he saw Rafiki as "the caretaker of the circle of life."
"I see him as a sage, I very wise old man, a custodian of the culture of the Mufasa clan. And the person who is the recorder of that history."
When it came to filming, the actors found themselves on opposite ends of the globe, with Dr Kani only meeting some of the movie's other stars months after its completion at the Hollywood premiere.
"During this whole process, which took [place] from 2017 to 2019, we've been in and out [of] studio, listening to the voice of the other actors and beginning to interact with that," he explains, saying that he recorded his lines in Johannesburg, while Donald Glover was all the way in LA.
He says working like this is like "playing the character blind", as you have to give life to a persona which you cannot see — something which he was able to pull off brilliantly.
"I remember when Donald Glover saw me in Hollywood, he said: 'Wow, you look exactly how I imagined. I'm afraid of you, I'm respecting you," he chuckled softly as he recalled.