Catherine Laga’aia to Star in Disney's Moana Live Action Film | Playbill

Film & TV News Catherine Laga’aia to Star in Disney's Moana Live Action Film

The film will be a live action adaptation of the 2016 Disney animated film, with music by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Catherine Laga’aia

There is a new way-finding princess in town! Per Variety, newcomer Catherine Laga‘aia will star as Moana in Disney's live action Moana, which is based on the beloved 2016 animated musical Moana. The film is set to begin production this summer for a July 10, 2026 theatrical release date. It will also feature Dwayne Johnson as Maui (who is reprising his role from the animated film). It will be directed Hamilton director Thomas Kail.

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

Moana follows a young girl living on an island. When mysterious magical forces threatens the health of the island, Moana must sail into the ocean to find a way to save her home (with the help of demigod Maui).

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

Laga‘aia and Johnson will be joined by John Tui as Moana’s father, Chief Tui; Frankie Adams as Moana’s mother, Sina; and Rena Owen, as the revered Gramma Tala. Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote songs for the animated film, will be a producer. Johnson is also producing the film alongside Dany Garcia and Hiram Garcia (via their Seven Bucks Productions banner) and Beau Flynn (for FlynnPictureCo). The film's executive producers include Scott Sheldon (for FlynnPictureCo.), Auli‘i Cravalho (who voiced Moana in the 2016 film), and Charles Newirth.

The film has a screenplay by Jared Bush, who wrote the screenplay for the animated Moana, and Dana Ledoux Miller (Netflix’s Thai Cave Rescue and cofounder of non-profit Pasifika Entertainment Advancement Komiti (PEAK)).

This film is not to be confused with the upcoming Moana 2, which is an animated film set to be released November 27. That film will be directed by Dave Derrick Jr. (Encanto) and will feature music by Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear (The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical), Opetaia Foa'i, and Mark Mancina.

Moana 2 will reportedly take audiences on an adventure with Moana and a brand-new crew of seafarers. When Moana receives an unexpected call from her ancestors, she "must journey to the far seas of Oceania and into dangerous, long-lost waters for an adventure unlike anything she's ever faced." Auli'i Cravalho will voice the title role in Moana 2 and Johnson will once again Maui.

A stage adaptation of Moana debuted in 2019, part of Music Theatre International's Broadway Junior series.

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