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Nathan Lane inspires the voice of ''Tarzan''

The ”Lion King” vet shows Tony Goldwyn how to impress his kids with Disney cred

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Forget the advice from his agent: The reason Tony Goldwyn HAD to play the voice of ”Tarzan” in Disney’s animated hit ($111 million and counting) was to win back his kid’s respect. Goldwyn costarred with Nathan Lane in the 1996 TV movie ”The Boys Next Door,” and in the middle of one of Goldwyn’s nightly phone calls to his 5-year-old daughter, Anna, Lane commandeered the receiver and began talking as his ”Lion King” character. ”He said, ‘Hello, Anna? This is Timon. Hakuna matata!’ He did a whole routine for her,” Goldwyn tells EW Online, ”and she was enchanted. Every night I would call her and she would say, ‘Yeah, Dad, I’ll talk to you later. I need to talk to Timon.’ About a year later Disney asked me if I would do ‘Tarzan,’ and I jumped at it. Anna fell to her knees and said, ‘Thank you, Daddy!”’

Still, going into a sound booth to perform the dialogue was a lot harder than yammering to a 5-year-old on a cell phone. It took Goldwyn a while to get used to acting without scenery, let alone without any other actors in the booth with him. (Because of their varying schedules, the cast members — including Minnie Driver, who provides the voice of Jane, and Rosie O’Donnell, the voice of Tarzan’s ape friend Terk — did their lines separately.) But for the scenes where he had to grunt and yell to pretend he was wrestling a leopard, the directors helped him get into character. ”We would actually go in the booth and wrestle him around,” says codirector Kevin Lima. ”We’d get him in a headlock, because otherwise it doesn’t sound like he’s fighting.” Goldwyn should be happy he wasn’t playing Bambi’s mother.