After exploring the worlds of Zootopia and San Fransokyo, Walt Disney Animation Studios returns to their princess roots for their 56th feature film MOANA. However, we haven’t known much about the characters populating this South Pacific tale. Until now. Disney finally revealed the MOANA characters, and co-director John Musker said “our assembled voice cast for this film is beyond our wildest dreams,” said Musker. Inspired by the people they encountered during their travels to the islands of the Pacific, the filmmakers populated their story with a host of dynamic characters. A top-notch voice cast helps bring the MOANA characters to life. Continue reading for more details from Walt Disney Animation Studios’ press release, and click here for all the news on Disney’s MOANA.
Adventurous, tenacious and compassionate, Moana is a 16-year-old struggling to find her true self. While her father, Chief Tui, pressures her to follow in his footsteps and lead their island one day, Moana is drawn to the sea. The people of her village are forbidden to go beyond the safety of the reef, yet the open ocean seems to beckon Moana. “It doesn’t seem possible for her to fulfill her heart’s desire and still be true to her people and her culture,” says director Ron Clements. “She descended from navigators, but she doesn’t know it.”
When her island is threatened by a terrible darkness, Moana breaks the rules and sets sail on an epic adventure to save her people and find the answers she’s been searching for her whole life. Says director John Musker, “She is inspired to solve the problem of this world that has been haunting them and has made voyaging impossible. If she can face this problem that’s plagued them for a thousand years, perhaps voyaging could resume.”
“She is a strong hero who sets out to retrieve what her people lost a long time ago,” says producer Osnat Shurer. “This isn’t a love story—it’s action, adventure, fun and drama. Moana wants to save the world—literally—even though she’s just about the only person who realizes it needs saving. She’s a powerful role model for today’s audiences.”
Newcomer Auli‘i Cravalho was called on to provide the voice of the tenacious teenager. “She has the spirit of Moana,” says Shurer. “We tease her and she teases us right back. There’s a fearlessness, but at the same time genuine warmth. She is a natural talent and a professional—but still a kid at heart.”
Maui is a demigod—half god, half mortal, all awesome. Charismatic and funny, he wields a magical fishhook that allows him to shapeshift into all kinds of animals and pull up islands from the sea. Maui was once considered the greatest hero in Oceania; his body is covered with tattoos of his extraordinary feats, including a mini-version of himself that acts as Maui’s conscience. “Maui is responsible for the trouble that threatens Moana’s people,” says Musker. “He’s paying a price for his actions and is somewhat of a lost hero—a shadow of his former self. Moana needs him to right his wrongs and restore what’s been lost.”
Embarking on an important journey of self-discovery alongside Moana, Maui brings his super strength—as well as his super-sized issues. “He has an all-encompassing drive to succeed that gets him into trouble,” says Clements. “But facing the reason behind it isn’t easy.”
Filmmakers called on Dwayne Johnson to provide the voice of Maui. “He’s very connected to his Samoan roots,” says Clements. “Maui is a charismatic character and Dwayne is nothing if not charismatic. He has great comedic timing, nails the action scenes and is so likable. And he can sing.”
Moana’s confidante and best friend, Gramma Tala, shares her granddaughter’s special connection to the ocean. Although her son, Chief Tui, is a no-nonsense leader, Gramma Tala most definitely dances to the beat of her own drum. She feels in her soul that the ocean has big plans for Moana, but she won’t reveal the legendary secrets of their wayfinding ancestors till the time is right.
“Gramma Tala is the keeper of the ancient stories,” says screenwriter Jared Bush. “She knows the history of their people and understands how important it is that Moana holds onto her dreams. But she never gives her the answers. She lets Moana find her way.”
Rachel House provides the voice of Gramma Tala.
Moana’s father, Chief Tui, is the gregarious and well-respected leader of the people of Motunui Island. He wants Moana to follow in his footsteps as leader of their people, but fears his daughter’s connection with the ocean and the world that lies beyond their reef. “Her dad tells her again and again she must not venture out into the dangerous sea,” says Bush. “He insists her role is as future chief of their people. He reminds her of this massive responsibility and how important it is for her to embrace it.”
Though it may seem like they are worlds apart, Chief Tui and Moana have more in common than either of them realize.
Temuera Morrison lends his voice to Chief Tui.
Moana’s mother always has her back. Playful, sharp and strong-willed, Sina appreciates Moana’s longing to be on the water. But much like Tui, her hard-headed husband, Sina wants to protect her daughter from the fabled dangers beyond the reef. Above all, Sina trusts Moana to make the right decisions.
Nicole Scherzinger voices Sina.
The Kakamora are wild, coconut-armored pirates who live on a trash and flotsam covered vessel that floats freely around the ocean. The Kakamora may be small, but they are ruthless warriors who will stop at nothing to get what they want.
Tamatoa is a self-absorbed, 50-foot crab who lives in Lalotai, the realm of monsters. The conceited crustacean wants to be more than a “bottom feeder” and overcompensates for this perceived shortcoming by covering himself in all things shiny. The avid collector fiercely holds onto his ever-growing array of artifacts, along with a nasty grudge against Maui.
Jemaine Clement provides the voice of Tamatoa.
HeiHei is one dumb rooster—the village idiot, in fact. When the clueless chicken accidently stows away on Moana’s canoe, he lands a front-row seat for her epic journey. But when Maui targets the feathered fowl as his next meal, kind-hearted Moana sticks her neck out to save Heihei.
Walt Disney Animation Studios’ lucky charm Alan Tudyk is behind the voice of HeiHei.
Pua is Moana’s loyal pet pig with puppy energy and an innocent puppy brain. He’s guileless and sweet—he’d do anything for Moana. Pua just wants her to be happy.
Co-director Ron Clements added, “we are so thankful to have found such extraordinary people who not only capture the voices of these characters, they elevate them in every way.”