Win One of 5 Copies of Disney’s The Lion King


Robert Guillaume, 83 years young, provides the unique voice of Rafiki in Disney’s classic film The Lion King.  Mr. Guillaume’s 50-plus year career includes accolades in both theater and TV.  He won two Emmys (for Soap and Benson) and received a Tony nomination for his role in Guys and Dolls

I recently interviewed the charming Mr. Guillaume in conjunction with the re-release of The Lion King in theaters and on DVD and Blue-ray.  Grace Hill Media, a company that promotes quality entertainment for faith-based audiences, has graciously provided five Lion King DVD/Blue-ray combo packs as giveaways for Catholic Lane readers.  Details provided at the end of the interview.

Peggy Bowes:  It’s exciting that a new generation of children will be able to watch The Lion King in theaters.  What message do you want them to take away from the film?

Robert Guillaume:  I know that this film resonates deeply with children in a way that a lot of material doesn’t.  I went to see the newest 3D version at El Capitan Theater in Hollywood with a young man around 10, and he just had the greatest time!  This story will live on, and I can’t find the words to express my admiration for this film.

Peggy:  Did you have any inspiration to help you get into character for the role of Rafiki?

Robert:  The voice of Rafiki was something I had been playing around with.  Whenever I thought that I was imitating a Jamaican accent, I would use it, just kidding around of course and meaning no harm.  It was a really terrible Jamaican accent, and I didn’t know how thin it was but the character always tickled me, and I would talk [in character]at parties and things like that.  My wife would ask me questions and I would answer in that voice. When I finally found that voice, it was sort of like freeing the character.  This is one of the most liberating projects that I’ve ever done.  I found that I could do anything in that voice and it fit. 

Peggy:  The musical version of The Lion King made Rafiki a female character?  What did you think about that interpretation?

Robert:  [Laughs] Well of course I’m jealous!  I certainly would have liked to be part of the whole theatrical experience, but I didn’t sweat it. 

Peggy:  Your character has key scenes that relate to the “circle of life” theme.  Do you think there is a Christian element there?

I suppose you could say that.  It’s a very intense story about family, and I think kids get it at that level.  It affects them so.  As I said before, I went with a young person, and he had such a great time.  He’d be watching the film and suddenly break out in laughter.  He didn’t care what anyone else thought.

Peggy:  My Catholic readers will be interested to know that your grandmother helped to provide for you and your brothers and sisters by working as a laundress for a Catholic rectory. Tell us more about this brave woman and how she impacted your life.

Robert:  My grandmother was the architect of my life.  Her influence in me is evident in the work I’ve done in the last 40 or 50 years.  One of my saddest recollections is that she was not able to see me come to some success with my chosen profession.  It makes me very sad that she could not experience what she’d done. 

Peggy:  You sang in the choir and served as an altar boy in your youth.  Did your faith have an impact on your career?

Robert:  Oh yes, very definitely. I was taught by the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in grade school and the Sisters of St. Joseph in high school and they were quite influential in my life.  Singing also had a profound impact on my life and still does to this day.  I still think about how I can do something better with my voice, and it influenced me to think that I could be in show business as an actor.  When I was looking around to see what I could do with my life, singing came to mind because I had been a little star in my school. 

Peggy:  You’ve had a very diverse career— a brief stint in the Army, folk singing, Broadway, TV and movie roles.  What was your favorite project?

Robert:  My most demanding job was one I did in 1990 in Los Angeles when I played the Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera.  [Mr. Guillaume was the first and only African American to play that role.] To me, that was a high point.  I talk about luck in my career because I think that there are so many actors who are more talented than I who for one reason or another don’t get to do what I got to do, what came my way. I feel very lucky about that because you can have talent out the wazoo, if you will, but unless you get a little luck, unless things come your way and you’re at the right place at the right time, your talent may never be seen.  I managed to maneuver myself in the right waters and came up with something, and for that I’m eternally grateful.

Peggy:  Any future projects?

Robert:  No, the phone doesn’t ring as often as it used to.  I’m sort of semi-retired.  I say the word reluctantly because I will still entertain any idea they come to me with.  I will give it a shot.

Catholic Lane readers will have an opportunity to win one of five free copies of The Lion King DVD/Blue Ray combo pack.  Simply leave a comment on this article, and you will be entered into the contest.  Remember that you must first log in or register as a new user in order to leave a comment.  Deadline for entering the contest is Friday, October 7th at 11:59 pm Pacific time.  Winners will be notified through their registered email addresses and will be posted on the comment section below on Monday, October 10th.  If winners do not respond with a mailing address by October 17th, then a new winner will be selected.


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  • RestlessPilgrim

    Hakuna matata 🙂

    • Restless Pilgrim, you were selected as one of the winners of the DVD/Blue-ray, but I have still not heard back from you with your mailing address. Check your email spam folder or email your address to Per the contest rules, all winners must send a mailing address by Oct 17th. I hope to hear from you soon!

  • The Lion King is a wonderful movie. Being a teen in the ’90’s, I got to see it many times, but never since abandoning VHS. I’d love to see it again (and again..)

  • Tarheel

    I saw The Lion King with my son’s when they were young. Not sure who enjoyed it more, me or them!

  • “Simba, let me tell you something my father told me. Look at the stars. The great kings of the past are up there, watching over us.”

    I have used that line to teach about the Communion of Saints during RCIA classes. Popular culture has a way of catching a truth, and presenting it in a new way, that really gets people’s attention.

    Sign me up for a DVD!

  • Kay Anne Kelly

    PICK ME!!!! I will make you an “8th Deadly Sin” chocolate cake – ya have to go to confession after you eat it or you may spend eternity somewhere really hot (statement not verified by the Vatican or by anyone else w/ any kind of authority – or common sense – within the Catholic Church) — we gave away our VHS copy when the VCR died – our 5 year old would love this! (I could also make you some brownies – they come in three variations: near occasion of sin, venial sin, and mortal sin brownies – our pastor said these titles are actually pretty darn accurate….he also said he was praying for me….no idea why)

    • As much as I love chocolate, Kay, I can’t accept bribes. 🙂

      • Kay Anne Kelly

        Is my name still in the mix or did I blow it with the bribe attempt? 🙂

        • You’re fine! Obviously you were kidding.

          • Kay Anne Kelly

            “Blessed are the merciful….” – thanks!

  • Mary Kochan

    I hope she wasn’t kidding. I might not have anything to do with picking the winners, but I’m still goin’ for those brownies!

  • christymomof3

    How my daughter cried when Simba’s father died! Now that my youngest is 14, we should see it again.

  • DaveLoftus

    Thanks Peggy for posting the interview! With our 4-year-old twins getting old enough to enjoy movies like this, the rest of the family is getting a second chance to appreciate these gems. They just saw Lion King in 3D and haven’t stopped talking about it since.

  • Kay Anne Kelly

    Mary: venial sin brownies – simple triple chunk brownie; mortal sin brownies – triple chunk brownie with chocolate frosting, Heath bar pieces and a scoop of really good vanilla ice cream (near occassion brownies are the half choc. chip/half brownie things…not near as sinful as the full chocolate real deal). I am up to 7 miles on the treadmill now….gee, I wonder why:)

    • Mary Kochan

      I think reading your posts is a near occasion of sin…

  • Thank you so much to all who took the time to enter! FYI, there were seven entrants as Kelly only gets one entry for all her comments (and corresponding temptations…) and Mary, as editor, sadly does not get to enter. Winners were sent an email requesting a mailing address. If you don’t see the email in your inbox, check your spam folder or send your mailing address to Remember, winners must respond by Oct 17th or you will forfeit your prize.
    The 5 winners are listed below:

    Restless Pilgrim
    Jeanne G
    Christy Mom of 3
    Dave Loftus

    Sorry, Prairie Hawk and Kay Anne! (You might still have a chance if one of the winners doesn’t reply with a mailing address.)

  • Kay Anne Kelly

    I feel this was a vast right wing conspiracy – some people really have a prejudice against chocolate. I shoulda guessed the Rosary Workout lady wouldn’t pick my name after a calorie ridden bribe attempt. Maybe I should have tried this: I worked at the Air Force Academy when YOU were there! No joke – I worked concessions at the football games (Army brat – military kids get to work on base for stuff like that). Oh, well….guess St. Nicholas will bring it on the 6th of December…he LOVES chocolate:)

    • I wish EVERYONE could have won a copy of The Lion King, but alas, there were only five. I had to use a very fair and unbiased method to choose the winners– my daughter, having no clue why she was doing this, was asked to randomly choose two numbers between 1 and 7. I had assigned a number to each person who commented, and the numbers she chose were the ones who did not get a DVD. No right wing conspiracy was involved, I promise!

      Kay Anne, I probably bought some hot chocolate from you back in my USAFA days. That’s usually what I bought at the concession stand as I was always freezing. As a California girl, it took awhile to get adjusted to those long Colorado winters, especially up at 7000+ feet! I remember a lot of us lady cadets would huddle in the girls’ bathroom under the heater vent in the ceiling, trying to stay warm.

      Maybe St. Nicholas will will bring you a Lion King DVD on Dec 6th…

      • “I just can’t wait to be king!”

        • Prairie Hawk, I’m sorry that you weren’t a winner either, especially since you also took the time to enter the Dumbo contest. There is still hope though, as one of the winners has not yet responded. The deadline to respond is Oct 17th, so if I don’t hear back, then I will draw again between you and Kay Ann. God bless!

  • Kay Anne Kelly

    OK – last comment and I’ll be quiet: I worked the Notre Dame game…all their guy cheerleaders came to my stand to get subs and sodas…the guys were all so Irish looking and handsome I let them eat for free (paid for it out my own pocket…no stealing:)…my mom was horrified! She was more irked with me giving anything free to ND (she knew in the 70’s that place was heading down the wrong road) than she was about me losing all that money! Cracked me up….the best game was the one in a total whiteout…cannot recall the year – I was sitting next to my stand and had a huge drift of snow against me and the stand before anyone even wanted a sandwhich! I actually miss that, having grown up with it. OK – I will be silent and contemplative now:)