Disney has announced some of the cast for the upcoming live-action remake of its animated classic, “Moana”, which is set to begin filming later this summer.

The upcoming movie will bring to life in a whole new way the story of a young woman eager to pave her own path. Celebrating the islands, communities and traditions of Pacific Islanders in a spectacular adventure.   In the original movie, Moana, who is the daughter of chief Tui, embarks on a journey to return the heart of goddess Te Fitti from Maui, a demigod, after the plants and the fish on her island start dying due to a blight.

Disney has announced that 17-year-old Catherine Laga‘aia will be playing the role of “Moana” in the new film.  She has previously starred in the Amazon series, “The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart”.   In a statement regarding her casting:

“I’m really excited to embrace this character because Moana is one of my favorites.  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.”

It has also been announced that New Zealander John Tui will be playing the role of Moana’s no-nonsense father, Chief Tui; Samoan-New Zealand actress Frankie Adams will portray Moana’s playful and strong-willed mother, Sina; and Rena Owen, who hails from Bay of Islands, NZ, was cast as the revered Gramma Tala.

This is in addition to Dwayne Johnson, who voiced larger-than-life demigod Maui in the 2016 animated version of the film, who will reprise his role.

“Moana” is going to be directed by Thomas Kail, who has previously directed the Disney+ recording of “Hamilton” plus some episodes of the recent Hulu/Star Original series, “We Were The Lucky Ones”.  Thomas said in a statement regarding the casting:

“I am thrilled to have met Catherine, Rena, Frankie and John through this casting process.  I am humbled by this opportunity, and I cannot wait to all be on set together. And there’s no better pair to be in a canoe with than Catherine and Dwayne—actually, trio: Heihei is ready, too.”

The new feature film is produced by Dwayne Johnson, Dany Garcia and Hiram Garcia via their Seven Bucks Productions and Beau Flynn via FlynnPictureCo. Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the original songs, will also serve as producer. Executive producers include Scott Sheldon of FlynnPictureCo and Charles Newirth.  Auli‘i Cravalho, who voiced Moana in the 2016 film, will also be an executive producer on the new film.

Jared Bush and Dana Ledoux Miller have been tapped for the project. Bush, a veteran of Disney Animation, wrote the screenplay for 2016’s “Moana,” and Miller is a Samoan writer who created Netflix’s “Thai Cave Rescue” and co-founded the non-profit Pasifika Entertainment Advancement Komiti (PEAK).

The upcoming live-action remake will be released in cinemas on July 10th 2026.  The animated movie is available to stream now on Disney+, and the animated sequel, “Moana 2” will be out in cinemas this coming Thanksgiving.

Are you looking forward to watching a live-action version of “Moana”?  Let me know on social media!

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Roger Palmer

Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom. Email: Roger@WhatsOnDisneyPlus.com Twitter: Twitter.com/RogPalmerUK Facebook: Facebook.com/rogpalmeruk

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