Disney Casts Australia’s Catherine Laga‘aia as Moana for Live-Action Film

(Pictured): Catherine Laga’aia. Photo by Alexei Hay. © 2024 Alexei Hay. All Rights Reserved.
(Pictured): Catherine Laga’aia. Photo by Alexei Hay. © 2024 Alexei Hay. All Rights Reserved.

Laga‘aia Joins Dwayne Johnson, Who Reprises His Role as the Beloved Maui, in the Oceanic Adventure Heading to Australian Cinemas July 9, 2026

Catherine Laga‘aia will be voyaging to Motunui and beyond as the adventurous teenager who sails out on a daring mission to save her people in Disney’s upcoming live-action “Moana.” “I’m really excited to embrace this character because Moana is one of my favorites,” said the 17-year-old Sydney, Australia, native. “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.”

Joining her on this epic journey, the cast also includes Auckland, New Zealander John Tui as Moana’s no-nonsense father, Chief Tui; Samoan-New Zealand actress Frankie Adams portrays 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. Previously announced, Dwayne Johnson, who voiced the larger-than-life demigod Maui in the 2016 animated version of the film, will reprise his iconic role.

Releasing in Australian cinemas on July 9, 2026, “Moana” is directed by Thomas Kail, renowned for his work on “Hamilton” on Broadway and Disney+, “Grease Live,” and the first and last episodes of Hulu’s acclaimed limited series “We Were the Lucky Ones.” Said Kail, “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.”

“Moana” 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, the production begins filming this summer. The new feature film is produced by 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., Auli‘i Cravalho, who voiced Moana in the 2016 film, and Charles Newirth. 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 film promises to be a breathtaking homage to the beauty and spirit of the Pacific Islands, bringing the beloved story to new heights with a fresh, live-action perspective. As anticipation builds, fans can look forward to an unforgettable cinematic experience when “Moana” sails into theaters in 2026.

This article was sourced from a media release by Disney

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