'The Lion King' Cast Member, Billy Eichner, Advocates for LGBTQ Characters in Animated Movies

It’s only a few days until the premiere of Disney’s re-imagined version of The Lion King. This movie stars Billy Eichner as Timon, the loyal and self-absorbed meerkat. In an interview with Buzzfeed News, Billy Eichner discussed his role in The Lion King and LGBT characters in children’s programming. Learn more about the actor, here.

Billy Eichner is known for his segment, ‘Billy on the Street’

You may know Billy Eichner from his roles on the FX television series, American Horror Story or from Funny or Die’s comedy segment, Billy on the Street. Billy Eichner made a name for himself as an actor, first performing in stage productions and then moving towards television and film.

Eichner will write and star in a gay romantic comedy produced by Judd Apatow and directed by Nicholas Stoller. Additionally, he stars in Disney’s 2019 adaption of The Lion King, alongside actors like Seth Rogen, Donald Glover, and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter.

Billy Eichner plays Timon in Disney’s live-action adaptation of ‘The Lion King’

With a few Emmy nominations under his belt, Billy Eichner joined the cast of Disney’s The Lion King. In it, he played Timon, the meerkat. Additionally, Billy Eichner is featured on The Lion King’s original motion picture soundtrack. Together with Seth Rogen, the actor performed songs like “Hakuna Matata” and “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.”

“Seth texted me the other day, and he was like, ‘Dude, we’re gonna be on a Billboard chart — which is so ridiculous.’ I was like, ‘If I get a Grammy before I get a GLAAD Award — I think that’s progress,’” said Eichner in an interview with Buzzfeed News.

Aside from his comedy and his acting, Eichner is a known member of the LGBT community. In 2018, the actor appeared at RuPaul’s DragCon, talking onstage with drag queens Alaska 5000 and Peppermint.

In an interview with Buzzfeed, Billy Eichner discussed LGBT characters in animated movies

In the original production of The Lion King, Nathan Lane portrayed Timon. For the 2019 adaptation of the film, director Jon Favreau chose Billy Eichner to play Timon, who also identifies as a gay man. In an interview with Buzzfeed News, the actor discussed one interpretation of The Lion King in which the antagonist, Scar, is gay.

“People are always trying to find the gay character in animated movies,” Eichner said. “I think the way to correct that is to actually put gay characters in animated movies. I’m actually in the very early days of working on a project like that. One of the last frontiers for LGBT representation [in] animated family films. Didn’t some rat just get married on something? Arthur or something like that?”

Eichner elaborated, stating that in the past, people had to guess if a character was gay or not. That includes LeFou, Gaston’s sidekick in Beauty and the Beast, and Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie.

“I don’t care if Bert and Ernie are gay,” Eichner continued. “I want to see actual gay people that are not a mystery. The way to move on from all those debates is to just create openly gay characters in children’s programming and family entertainment. I think we’re on the verge of that. You’re starting to see it happening.”

Disney’s adaption of The Lion King premieres in the United States on July 19, 2019.

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