Disney Casts Live-Action Moana, Filming Starts This Summer

Shannen Ace

Side-by-side image: on the left, a smiling girl with curly hair in casual clothing; on the right, an animated character with long hair and a necklace against an ocean backdrop. Excitement builds as filming starts for Disney's Live-Action Moana.

Disney Casts Live-Action Moana, Filming Starts This Summer

Disney has cast 17-year-old Catherine Laga’aia from Sydney, Australia as their live-action Moana. They also announced more of the cast and that filming will start this summer.

Disney Finds Live-Action Moana

A young woman with long, curly hair smiles while standing against a gray background. She is wearing a sleeveless light green top, reminiscent of Moana's adventurous spirit and vibrant style.

“I’m really excited to embrace this character because Moana is one of my favorites,” said Laga‘aia. “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.”

A man wearing a short-sleeved shirt stands on a beach holding a large, curved object while two children observe, discussing the latest release dates for Toy Story 5.

Laga‘aia will star opposite Dwayne Johnson, who reprises his role as Maui from the animated “Moana.” The cast also includes Auckland, New Zealander John Tui as Moana’s father, Chief Tui; Samoan-New Zealand actress Frankie Adams as Moana’s mother, Sina; and Rena Owen from Bay of Islands, NZ, as Gramma Tala.

“Hamilton” director Thomas Kail is directing “Moana.”

“I am thrilled to have met Catherine, Rena, Frankie, and John through this casting process,” Kail said. “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.”

Original Moana actress Auli’i Cravalho is executive producing alongside Scott Sheldon of FlynnPictureCo. and Charles Newirth. Johnson, Dany Garcia, and Hiram Garcia produce via their Seven Bucks Productions. Beau Flynn produces via FlynnPictureCo. Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the animated film’s original songs, also produces.

The original film’s writer, Jared Bush, is penning the screenplay with Dana Ledoux Miller, a Samoan writer who created Netflix’s “Thai Cave Rescue” and co-founded the non-profit Pasifika Entertainment Advancement Komiti (PEAK).

John Musker and Ron Clements, directors of the animated film, are not involved in the remake.

The live-action “Moana” is scheduled for release in theaters on July 10, 2026.

Source: Variety

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