Live-Action ‘Moana’ Finds Star in Catherine Laga’aia

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Disney‘s live-action remake of Moana has finally found its star. Catherine Laga‘aia will take on the titular role, starring opposite Dwayne Johnson, who will reprise his character as the demigod Maui.

The original musical film released in 2016, and has become a beloved narrative in Disney’s arsenal of animated stories. A separate, animated sequel to Moana was announced last month and is due out Nov. 27.

“I’m really excited to embrace this character because Moana is one of my favorites,” said the 17-year-old from Sydney, Australia, in a statement. “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.”

Auli‘i Cravalho, who voiced Moana in the 2016 film, will executive produce the live-action adventure with Scott Sheldon of FlynnPictureCo. and Charles Newirth. Lin-Manuel Miranda, who penned the original songs, will serve as producer alongside Dwayne Johnson, Dany Garcia and Hiram Garcia via their Seven Bucks Productions, and Beau Flynn via FlynnPictureCo.

Thomas Kail, who directed Hamilton on Broadway and Grease Live by Disney+, will helm the upcoming feature, which is slated to release on July 10.

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“I am thrilled to have met Catherine, Rena, Frankie and John through this casting process,” said the filmmaker. “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 newly-announced cast will also include John Tui from Auckland, New Zealand as Moana’s father, Chief Tui; Moana’s mother, Sina, played by Samoan-New Zealand actress Frankie Adams; and Rena Owen, from New Zealand’s Bay of Islands, as the Gramma Tala.

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