In a video posted to the Walt Disney YouTube channel, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson — who voiced the character of Maui in the animated film — revealed the exciting news that the new live-action adaption of the Disney hit is officially in production.
In the announcement, Johnson speaks to his connection to the island of O'ahu and to the film.
“We are here on the island of O'ahu, where I did a lot of growing up. As you know, Hawai'i means so much to my family and me,” he said.
“The Pacific islands and their cultures inspired a very special story. One that you all know very well. And that story is ... drumroll please ... Moana!”
Johnson shared that the character of Maui was actually inspired by his grandfather. “We found so much inspiration for Maui in the mana and the presence of my late grandfather, the legendary High Chief Peter Maivia,” Johnson said. “He would walk in, light up the room — the energy, the tattoos, the hair, the bod ... In a way, when I bring Maui to life, I'm doing it in the spirit of my grandfather.”
Johnson then busts into a short song from the film, “You’re Welcome,” while his daughters — Jasmine, 7, and Tiana, 4 — sing back up harmony as they play in the sand.
“It’s still very early in the process, and they’re so much work to be done, but until then, there is one more thing that I need to kick this journey off right,” Johnson continues, prompting his daughters to grab that “special thing” he needs.
The “special thing” is none other than a real-life fish hook like Maui has in the animated film that holds all the demigod’s power.
The video then shows a breathtaking shot of the island while Johnson asks his daughters, “Is daddy Maui?”
To which the girls hilariously respond, “NO!”
In a separate news statement, Johnson revealed just how close the film Moana is to his heart, noting that the film’s characters, songs, and messaging honors the story of his heritage and the Polynesian people.
“I'm deeply humbled and overcome with gratitude to bring the beautiful story of Moana to the live-action big screen. This story is my culture, and this story is emblematic of our people's grace and warrior strength,” he said in a press release.
“I want to thank my partners at Disney for their strong commitment to this special endeavor, because there is no better world for us to honor the story of our people, our passion and our purpose than through the realm of music and dance, which is at the core of who we are as Polynesian people.”
Though the jury is still out on whether or not Auli'i Cravalho — who voiced Moana — will come back to reprise her role, she will serve as an executive producer on the live-action film.
She revealed the news on her Instagram and said, “… this one has been whispered about for years! ✨ Moana has had such a profound impact on how we think of Disney princesses. Moana’s strength and perseverance are inspiring—to audiences around the world, to me and to everyone who helped bring her to life. ❤️🙏🏼 I’m looking forward to sharing her story in a whole new way. Eō #Moana!! 🌀”
Twitter sounded off after Disney dropped the news, noting that the animated version of Moana is not even a decade old. Some suggested that a sequel would have made a bit more sense.
Johnson did note that production is in the very early stages, so the film has a couple more years until a release, though Disney fans are still bit unsure. However, with Johnson’s charisma and star power at the helm, plus the songs we all love, there is a big chance this will become a classic.