Samoan-Australian actress Catherine Laga'aia cast as Moana in Disney's live-action remake

Moana's live-action film has found its lead.
Moana's live-action film has found its lead. Photo credit: Disney

Disney's live-action Moana has found its star: 17-year-old Australian actress Catherine Laga'aia will play the titular role opposite Dwayne Johnson, reprising his role as demigod Maui in the highly anticipated film.

Laga'aia picks up the role from Auli'i Cravalho, who voice-starred in the original animated film. Cravalho also serves as an executive producer on the live-action remake.

"I'm really excited to embrace this character because Moana is one of my favourites," Laga'aia said 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 honoured to have an opportunity to celebrate Samoa and all Pacific Island peoples, and to represent young girls who look like me."

The new cast also includes a roster of New Zealand talents, including John Tui as Moana's father, Chief Tui; Frankie Adams as Moana's mother, Sina; and Rena Owen as the revered Gramma Tala.

The film will be directed by Thomas Kail, while Lin-Manuel Miranda - who wrote the songs for the 2016 feature - will serve as a producer.

Johnson's return as Maui also marks the first time an actor from a Disney animated film will physically portray the same character in a live-action remake.

Disney's live-action Moana is slated to release in July 2026.