Disney’s live-action Moana has cast Catherine Laga’aia in the title role

Catherine Laga’aia will star in Disney’s upcoming live-action adaptation of Moana alongside Dwayne Johnson as Maui.

Moana, live-action, Catherine Laga‘aia

Disney’s upcoming live-action adaptation of Moana will kick off production this summer, and the studio announced today that Catherine Laga’aia will star as the title character alongside Dwayne Johnson as Maui.

I’m really excited to embrace this character because Moana is one of my favorites,” Laga’aia said in the press release. “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 Catherine Laga’aia and Dwayne Johnson in the live-action Moana movie will be John Tui as Moana’s no-nonsense father, Chief Tui; Frankie Adams as Moana’s playful and strong-willed mother, Sina; and Rena Owen as the revered Gramma Tala. Director Thomas Kail said, “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.

Auli’i Cravalho, who voiced Moana in the animated 2016 film, is an executive producer on the project. The actress has previously explained why she didn’t want to return to play the character in live-action. “It feels really important to me to pass the baton to the next young woman of Pacific Island descent, and I say that with my whole chest,” Cravalho told The Wrap earlier this year. “I have been invited, and I exist in these beautiful AAPI spaces, Asian American Pacific Islander, and I am one of the few Pacific Islanders. And I’ll say it again, I am one of the few Pacific Islanders. And our stories are so important to be told.” However, Cravalho is returning for Moana 2. The animated sequel will reunite “Moana and Maui three years later for an expansive new voyage alongside a crew of unlikely seafarers. After receiving an unexpected call from her wayfinding ancestors, Moana must journey to the far seas of Oceania and into dangerous, long-lost waters for an adventure unlike anything she’s ever faced.” The sequel will hit theaters on November 27th.

The live-action Moana is slated for a July 10, 2026 release.

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Based in Canada, Kevin Fraser has been a news editor with JoBlo since 2015. When not writing for the site, you can find him indulging in his passion for baking and adding to his increasingly large collection of movies that he can never find the time to watch.