Walt Disney Pictures newest animated feature film Moana tells the story of a spirited teenager who sets out on a daring mission to save her people — to prove herself as a master wayfinder and fulfill her ancestors’ unfinished quest. During her journey, she meets the once-mighty demi-god Maui (voiced by Dwayne Johnson), and together, they traverse the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous fiery creatures and facing impossible odds.
Disney’s Moana opens in theaters on November 23, with early screenings beginning Tuesday, November 22. Before you go see it on the big screen, here’s what you need to know about the characters of Moana…
Moana (Auli‘i Cravalho) is an adventurous, tenacious and compassionate 16-year-old who is 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,’ – 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. – 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,’ – 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 (Dwayne Johnson) 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,’ – John 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,’ – Ron 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,’ – Ron 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.’
Gramma Tala (Rachel House), Moana’s confidante and best friend, 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,’ – 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.’
Tui & Sui
Moana’s father, Chief Tui (Temuera Morrison), 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.
Moana’s mother always has her back. Playful, sharp and strong-willed, Sina (Nicole Scherzinger) 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.
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 (Jemaine Clement) 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.
Hei Hei is one dumb rooster. The village idiot, in fact. When the clueless chicken accidentally 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. Alan Tudyk, one of the animation studios’ most recognized voice actors (Zootopia, Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, Big Hero 6), is behind the voice of Hei Hei.
Pua is Moana’s loyal pet pig with puppy energy and an innocent puppy brain. He’s guileless and sweet and would do anything for Moana. Pua just wants her to be happy.
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