John Kani explains The Lion King cast photo absence

John Kani said the picture was taken a while ago while he was away.
John Kani said the picture was taken a while ago while he was away.
Image: Gallo Images / Sowetan / Kabelo Mokoena

Veteran South African actor John Kani has cleared the air on his absence from a cast photo of The Lion King, explaining that he was simply away on the day of the shoot.

Local social media users were left shocked and confused earlier this week when the film's official Twitter page shared a picture of the cast and both Kani and US actor James Earl Jones were missing.

Kani, who has received accolades around the world for his work and starred in several Hollywood films, voices Rafiki in the film.

As social media filled with outrage and questions about his "snub", Kani took to Twitter to calm the masses.

"Please understand that some of these pictures are taken while I am in production in England and could not be available," he said, in response to a fan's question. 

He later shared his experience ahead of the film's premiere on Tuesday night, including how airport officials met him at the door of his plane to whisk him to another flight.

"Landed in JFK. Mrs Kani and I were met at the door of the plane by airport officials taken through diplomatic customs desk. Quick passport check and then taken to the connecting LA flight for The Lion King red carpet premiere. Wow, I am getting used to this sh*t!"

It all came just as it was announced that he will star as Botswana's King Khama III in a new Hollywood film titled Let My Country Be.

Kani will star alongside acting greats John Cleese and Stephen Fry on the film that tells the story of an African king who tours England in 1895 to confront Queen Victoria about his land being stolen.

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