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Tom Cruise Crashed The Lion King to Play Pumbaa

Photo: Disney; Getty Images

You’ve heard of Tom Cruise in a scuba suit. But nothing can prepare you for Tom Cruise in a Pumbaa suit. On February 23, audiences at The Lion King at the Hollywood Pantages Theater in Los Angeles were treated to a surprise couple of understudies, as James Corden and Cruise took the stage in full Julie Taymor puppet regalia to play Timon and Pumbaa, respectively. The two men, who don’t hear the word no nearly enough, sang “Hakuna Matata” and filmed it to be aired on The Last Last Late Late Show prime-time special as Corden’s final late-night bow.

These sorts of pop-up rodent musical performances are expected from Corden at this point; Angelenos stop at crosswalks in fear that he will pop up in a mouse costume and hump their side mirror at any moment. But this was Cruise’s musical-stage debut, and the show allowed people in the audience to film it, meaning you can watch him sing and dance in a warthog suit right now.

The Late Late Show With James Corden’s official Instagram account posted a photo of the two of them in costume, so you can really make out Cruise in a big warthog mohawk and cloven-hoof Tabis and chaps up close. He and Corden are probably just blissed out on the power of musical theater, but their expressions match their puppets’, and their puppets look like they’ve just popped a couple of weed grubbies. The words “sleep paralysis demon” get thrown around a lot lately, but it really is giving “worries for the rest of your days.”

Audiences at the show were also treated to a curtain call when Cruise took off most of the warthog carcass but left on the padding, making him a dead ringer for Sam Smith at the Brit Awards.

The Last Last Late Late Show airs April 27 on CBS and Paramount Plus.

Tom Cruise Crashed The Lion King to Play Pumbaa