Kelvin Harrison Jr. signed up to Lion King prequel to play Scar, not sing kids' songs

Kelvin Harrison Jr.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Kelvin Harrison Jr. is keeping things musical after his latest role in the classical musical biopic Chevalier, based on the life of eminent 18th-century composer Joseph Bologne. Next, he’ll be swapping the violin for Disney as he appears in Barry Jenkins’ The Lion King prequel as the villainous Scar.

Speaking to GamesRadar+ on the press tour for Chevalier, Harrison Jr. opened up about signing on for another music-based movie. "I wanted to play Scar not to sing songs in a kids’ movie, but I wanted to play Scar the character," he tells us. "The characters get me going. Barry Jenkins gets me going – the directors, characters, and writers make me excited. And then if they are, they're the ones that are interested in music all the time." He laughs, "They're the crazy ones."

The new role comes amid a series of music-adjacent choices for the actor, including Joe Wright’s Cyrano, playing B. B. King in Baz Luhrmann's Elvis, and Nisha Ganatra’s The High Note. However, Harrison Jr. insists this has not been a purposeful choice. 

"I’m not really calling my agents and saying, 'Find me a musical movie,'" he continues. "I'm really actually saying, 'Please don't.' I think what happens is they all served different things that I was interested in. If you think about The High Note I was like, 'I really want to do a rom-com.' With Cyrano, I really wanted to do a musical, yes, but more so because it's kind of epic. I really wanted to work with Joe Wright and I wanted to be in a picture that looked like that, and I wanted to work with Peter Dinklage. These are the reasons I really do something like that. And then you think about Chevalier, it's like I did it for Joseph's personality and not for the music of it all."

Chevalier, his latest movie, tells the story of Joseph Bologne, one of the greatest composers of the 18th century. The illegitimate son of an African slave and a French plantation owner, he rose through the ranks of French society as both a violinist and a fencer, coming across historical figures like Marie Antoinette and Mozart.

The movie is out in cinemas now. Read our interviews with Harrison Jr. and Lucy Boynton about the movie here.

For more upcoming movies, check out our guide to all of the upcoming 2023 movie release dates.

Fay Watson
Deputy Entertainment Editor

I’m the Deputy Entertainment Editor here at GamesRadar+, covering TV and film for the Total Film and SFX sections online. I previously worked as a Senior Showbiz Reporter and SEO TV reporter at Express Online for three years. I've also written for The Resident magazines and Amateur Photographer, before specializing in entertainment.