Hans Zimmer didn’t want to score ‘The Lion King’, but his 6-year-old daughter changed his mind

17 October 2022, 16:37 | Updated: 17 October 2022, 18:59

Hans Zimmer and his daughter Zoë at the 2019 premiere of ‘The Lion King’
Hans Zimmer and his daughter Zoë at the 2019 premiere of ‘The Lion King’. Picture: Alamy / Getty Images

By Sophia Alexandra Hall

Disney’s ‘The Lion King’ was an instant classic when it was released in 1994, thanks in large regard to the music of Hans Zimmer. But did you know the composer almost turned down the project? The multi-award-winning composer shared the sweet tale with Classic FM...

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Hans Zimmer faced a room full of journalists earlier this month at a central London Hotel for a press conference where he unveiled his plans for a new album and 2023 European tour.

During an hour of questions, the German-born composer recounted his work on a host of blockbuster projects, ranging from Inception, to Wonder Woman 1984.

Perhaps his most successful project, the score for ‘The Lion King’, garnered him a mountain of awards including his first Oscar. But fans of the composer’s work may be surprised to learn that Zimmer almost turned down the project...

“I didn’t want to do Lion King”, Zimmer told Classic FM, “I did The Lion King because my daughter Zoë was six years old at the time.

“And like all good fathers, I wanted to show off and I wanted to take her to a premiere.

“I thought, ‘I can’t take her to a Ridley Scott bloodbath’, so I thought a cartoon would be a good thing. So I took the movie, with Zoë as my reason.”

Read more: Hans Zimmer on the war in Ukraine, his upcoming live album and 2023 European tour

Hans Zimmer and Zoë Zimmer attend the European Premiere of Disney's ‘The Lion King’ in 2019
Hans Zimmer and Zoë Zimmer attend the European Premiere of Disney's ‘The Lion King’ in 2019. Picture: Getty

Zoë, now 34-years-old, again accompanied her father to the premiere of the 2019 live action reimagination of the film, which her father also wrote the music for.

Asides from Zimmer’s initial aversion to scoring the children’s film, the composer was also clear with the team behind the original Lion King that he did not want to write a certain genre of media.

“When I took on the project, I was very, very clear with them right from the beginning - I hate Broadway musicals.

“And they’re going ‘it will never be a broadway musical, never in 100 years!’, ‘it won’t be a problem’. And so we did the film, and when we finished the film, we still had all these musical ideas left!

“I travelled back to Africa with my friend, the South African composer, Lebo Morake and we recorded another hour of Rhythm of the Pride Lands, which sort of became the basis of the eventual The Lion King musical.

“And the next thing I know, I have a Broadway musical. All that kicking and screaming I did, saying I don’t want a musical. But here we are.”

He might have been unsure of The Lion King at the start, but we know a generation of cinema and theatre-goers are delighted that Zimmer made his musical mark on the Disney classic. Thank you, Hans. Or should we say thank you, six-year-old Zoë.