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The Lion King’ Was Originally a Cheech and Chong’ Movie

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Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong have starred in 9 films together, and while many are considered stoner comedy classics, not a single one of them has won over critics, who have panned all of the duo’s films. But there would have been one major exception to that list of critical flops if only the producers at Disney had stuck with their original vision for The Lion King,’ which would have reunited Cheech and Chong as two of Scar’s loyal hyenas. 

While casting the critically acclaimed animated feature, Lion King’ producers had a tough time figuring out who should play Scars’ cackling companions.

We had a really tough time finding the right voices for the hyenas in the movie,” Lion King’ co-director Rob Minkoff recalled following the film’s release. Gary Trousdale, one of the directors of Beauty and the Beast,’ helped us out in the early stages of development and he created an entire storyboard of the hyenas as if they were played by Cheech and Chong. It was hilarious, but Cheech and Chong weren’t working together at the time.”

The two comedians had broken up in 1986 because Cheech felt undervalued by Chong, and he wanted to develop his acting career beyond the stoner comedy subgenre. So The Lion King’ might have brought the two stoner comedy icons back together. But when the studio found out that another star was interested in playing one of the hyenas, they dropped the idea of casting Cheech and Chong.

We heard that Whoopi Goldberg was interested in the film and when we asked her if she’d like to voice a hyena she said, Yeah, great.’ So we got Cheech and Whoopi instead of Cheech and Chong!”

Unfortunately, Minkoff didn’t dish on what the Cheech and Chong storyboards would’ve looked like, so we can only imagine that it had something to do with the two hyenas prowling around the Shadowland in a lowrider and puffing a bong made out of elephant bones.

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