Jason Weaver knows the phrase "chess not checkers" very well. When the singer took part in Disney's The Lion King as a child, his mother made sure her child was set for life.
In an interview with VladTV, the actor/singer looked back on the role that taught him the importance of business in the entertainment industry. Weaver was Young Simba's singing voice, providing us with classics like "I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” and “Hakuna Matata” from the 1994 film. During negotiations, Weaver says his mother refused a $2 million check and opted for a chance to get royalties instead.
"Disney had a reputation for re-releasing stuff. I think at that time they had put out Sleeping Beauty and some of their old catalog from when [Walt] Disney was alive," he said. "They were releasing that stuff when they were releasing the new Disney stuff, so she was able to see the playing field and go, ‘Wait a minute, this is going to make a lot of money over time, so what happens when my son turns 40? Is he going to be able to get a check for this when they eventually re-release this?’"
The $2 million offer was enticing, Weaver recalled. His mother could see the vision Disney had with The Lion King and wanted to be apart of it. "It was so we can play the long game. In her opinion, because that residual income that I generate is so helpful. I make sure I give my mother her just due to props because if she hadn't done that it would have been the biggest mistake off my business career."
Weaver noted how he's made well over $1.9 million since the release of the original film. In total, the film has grossed over $1 billion (including the 2002 IMAX re-release and the 2011 3D experience). The original songs were also re-recorded for the live-action version released this year. Weaver's recordings of the song were apart of the film's soundtrack which currently lives on streaming platforms.
Many have wondered why Weaver only provided the singing voice to Young Simba, but the actor explained to Shadow and Act this year how he had an opportunity to do the speaking voice.
"They actually did offer me the role and the director even called business affairs at Disney and was like 'Yo, did we close out our contract with Jonathan Taylor Thomas? Because I think we want to make the offer to Jason Weaver for the speaking roles,'" Weaver recalled. "And business affairs got back to him and was like 'Nah, we literally just closed the deal.'" At the time, Thomas starred in the comedy Home Improvement and was literally on the covers of every teen magazine out (RIP Tiger Beat.)
Weaver's film choices have landed him with the elite. Other roles include a young Michael Jackson in The Jacksons: An American Dream miniseries, Smart Guy, Lottery Ticket, ATL, Love For Sale, Drumline and Dysfunctional Friends.
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We know that #JasonWeaver was the young singing voice for Simba in the original #TheLionKing, but why didn’t Disney give him the speaking role as well? @itsjasonweaver explained what happened to #ShadowAndAct. 👀 #jasonweaver #lionking #childactor #cast #animation #speakingrole