Live-action Moana remake casts main role

The live-action Moana remake, which is a bit of a head-scratcher given how ‘recent’ the original 2016 animated movie still feels, is moving forward and has now found its leading lady.

The chosen actress is Catherine Laga’aia, Disney has confirmed (via Variety). She’ll be joining Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, who’s reprising his role of the demigod Maui from the two animated movies.

“My grandfather comes from Fa‘aala, Palauli, in Savai‘i. And my grandmother is from Leulumoega Tuai on the main island of ‘Upolu in Samoa. I’m honored to have an opportunity to celebrate Samoa and all Pacific Island peoples, and to represent young girls who look like me,” the 17-year-old said when the news broke.

The movie, which was officially announced back in April 2023, is also adding “Auckland, New Zealander John Tui as Moana’s father, Chief Tui; Samoan-New Zealand actor Frankie Adams as Moana’s mother, Sina; and Rena Owen, who hails from Bay of Islands, New Zealand, as the revered Gramma Tala.” The production is currently set to start this summer, with a July 10, 2026, release date in mind.

Behind the camera will be Thomas Kail (Hamilton on Broadway and Disney Plus’ Grease Live), adding tons of expertise with musicals to the live-action take on the colorful adventure full of memorable songs. Meanwhile, the script was cracked out by Jared Bush, who worked on the screenplay for the original Moana, and Dana Ledoux Miller, a Samoan writer who created Netflix’s Thai Cave Rescue. Disney, a company in desperate need of some big wins in the near future, appears to be playing things safe with this one, but such an approach could give it a genuinely convincing (albeit obviously unnecessary) remake if the cards are played right.

The remake will arrive roughly one decade after the animated original and less than two years after Moana 2, which is set to open in theaters worldwide this November.

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