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Moana: Disney casts an unknown 17-year-old actor in a live-action film

Moana: Disney casts an unknown 17-year-old actor in a live-action film
Moana: Disney casts an unknown 17-year-old actor in a live-action film


Catherine Lagaaia has been cast as the eponymous heroine in Disney's live-action remake of Moana.

Lagaaia is a 17 year old Australian actress of Samoan descent with only one screen credit on her CV (2023). The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart series).

She will star alongside Dwayne The Rock Johnson, who reprises his role from the 2016 animated film as the demigod Maui.

I'm really excited to adopt this character because Moana is one of my favorites, Lagaaia said in the announcement. My grandfather comes from Faaala, Palauli, in Savaii. And my grandmother is from Leulumoega Tuai, on the main island of Upolu in Samoa. I am honored to have the opportunity to celebrate Samoa and all Pacific Island peoples, and to represent young girls who look like me.

Lagaaia's father is Jay Lagaaia, the New Zealand-born actor who played Captain Typho in Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones And Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith.

The veteran actor also took to social media to announce the news, writing on Instagram: My family and I are very excited to share this news with the rest of the world. My daughter Katie can finally share the news that she will be taking on the role of Moana in Disney's live-action film alongside Dwayne Johnson and Lin Manuel Miranda.

Moana is expected to begin production this summer ahead of its scheduled release on July 10, 2026. The film is directed by Thomas Kail, (Hamilton on Broadway and Disney+, Live Fat And We were the lucky ones).

I'm thrilled to have met Catherine, Rena, Frankie and John throughout this casting process, said Kail. I'm humbled by this opportunity and can't wait to all be on set together. And there's no better couple to get in a canoe than Catherine and Dwayne in fact, trio: Heihei is ready too.

Catherine Lagaaia, 17, from Sydney, Australia, is of Samoan descent.
Catherine Lagaaia, 17, from Sydney, Australia, is of Samoan descent. (Disney)

Moana tells the story of an adventurous teenager who embarks on a dangerous mission to save her people. During her journey, she meets Maui (voiced by Johnson) who guides her on her quest.

Last year, Aulii Cravalho, the 23-year-old actress who played the title character in the 2016 film, was praised for her respectful decision not to participate in the upcoming remake of the film.

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When I was cast as Moana at 14, it wonderfully changed my life and launched my career. In this live story, I will not be reprising the role, she shared in an Instagram video at the time.

I think it's absolutely vital that casting accurately represents the characters and stories we want to tell.

Cravalho will still participate in the remake as executive producer and is expected to helm Lagaaia. She will also reprise her voice role in the cartoon Moana 2which will arrive in theaters on November 27.




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