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Nathan Lane: Elton John didn’t want Timon & Pumbaa to sing ‘Lion King’ ballad “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”

ABC/Craig Sjodin

The Lion King ballad “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” won Elton John the first of his two Oscars for Best Original Song. But perhaps it wouldn’t have if the filmmakers had gone with their original picks of characters to sing it: Timon and Pumbaa.

Nathan Lane tells Entertainment Weekly that in the 1994 animated film, his character, Timon the meerkat, and Ernie Sabella‘s character, Pumbaa the warthog, were supposed to sing the entire song, not just the opening and closing verses. However, Elton put the kibosh on that idea.

“Elton John was mortified that the warthog and the meerkat were singing it,” Lane told EW. “He said, ‘The reason I wrote the score was because I wanted to have a Disney love song. I didn’t want it to be sung by the rat and the pig.'”

“We did [record] a version,” Lane continues. “We sang the whole thing in our character voices … it’s hard to do that and be romantic. Elton was right … thankfully, everyone came to their senses.”

Elton won his second Best Original Song Oscar in 2019 for “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” his song from Rocketman. Having already won a Tony and multiple Grammys, Elton became an EGOT in January 2024 when he won an Emmy for his Disney+ special Elton John Live: Farewell From Dodger Stadium.

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