MOANA: Catherine Laga‘aia Set to Star in Live-Action Remake

Walt Disney Studios has found its Princess Moana for the upcoming live-action remake. Disney officially announced today that Catherine Laga‘aia will star in the upcoming live-action adaptation of the hit Disney animated film that's currently in the works for a 2026 release.

Walt Disney Studios has found its Princess Moana for the upcoming live-action remake. Disney officially announced today that Catherine Laga‘aia will star in the upcoming live-action adaptation of the hit Disney animated film that’s currently in the works for a 2026 release.

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Laga‘aia joins the cast opposite Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who reprises his role as the beloved Maui in the upcoming oceanic adventure. The film will be hitting theaters in July 2026.


Laga’aia will be voyaging to Motunui and beyond as she portrays the adventurous teen who goes on a daring mission to save her people. Speaking on the news, the 17-year-old Sydney, Australia native said via a press release, “I’m really excited to embrace this character because Moana is one of my favorites.” She continued, “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.”

MOANA (Live-Action)
(Pictured): Catherine Laga’aia. Photo by Alexei Hay. © 2024 Alexei Hay. All Rights Reserved.

Other new cast members have also been confirmed for the live-action feature, including Auckland, New Zealander John Tui as Moana’s stern father, Chief Tui; Samoan-New Zealand actress Frankie Adams as Moana’s mother, Sina; and Bay of Islands, New Zealander native Rena Owen will portray Gramma Tala. Of course, Johnson returns as the demigod Maui, reprising his role for the classic 2016 animated feature.

The upcoming feature is directed by Thomas Kail, who previously helmed Hamilton on Broadway and the Disney+ release. He also directed Grease Live and the first and last episodes of the acclaimed Hulu limited series, We Were the Lucky Ones.

Image via Walt Disney Animation

Speaking on today’s announcement and casting news, Kail stated, “I am thrilled to have met Catherine, Rena, Frankie, and John through this casting process.” The filmmaker continued, “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, a trio: Heihei is ready, too.” So it looks like Heihei is also appearing in the upcoming film.

The movie will be directed by Kail from a script by writers Jared Bush and Dana Ledoux Miller. Miller previously wrote the screenplay for the 2016 feature. Miller is a Samoan writer who previously created Netflix’s Thai Cave Rescue and also co-founded the non-profit Pasifika Entertainment Advancement Komiti (PEAK).

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Johnson, Dany Garcia, and Hiram Garcia are producing the pictures under their Seven Bucks Production banner along with Beau Flynn through FlynnPictureCo. Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the film’s original songs, is also a producer on the project. Auli’i Cravalho, who voiced Moana in the 2016 feature, is attached as an executive producer along with Scott Sheldon and Charles Newirth.

On top of the live-action remake, Disney is also working on an animated sequel, Moana 2, which will hit theaters later this year on Nov. 27. Johnson is back as Maui, and Auliʻi Cravalho is back as Moana as well. Disney’s live-action Moana will be hitting theaters on July 10, 2026.

About Moana

Disney Moana

Release Date: July 10, 2026
Director: Thomas Kail
Writers: Jared Bush and Dana Ledoux Miller
Music: Abigail Barlow, Emily Bear, Opetaia Foa’i, Mark Mancina
Producer: Dwayne Johnson, Dany Garcia, Hiram Garcia, Beau Flynn, and Linn-Manuel Miranda
Executive Producers: Scott Sheldon, Auli‘i Cravalho, and Charles Newirth
Production: Walt Disney Studios
Distribution: Walt Disney Studios

Synopsis: Moana will bring to life in a whole new way the story of a young woman eager to pave her own path. Celebrating the islands, communities and traditions of Pacific Islanders in a spectacular adventure, the production begins filming this summer.

What do you think of the news? Do you think Catherina Laga’aia is a good choice to portray Moana in the upcoming live-action remake? What do you think of the other new cast members revealed for 2026’s Moana? Let us know your thoughts about the news on The Illuminerdi’s social media.

SOURCE: Walt Disney Studios

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Jeff Harris

Jeffrey is an entertainment journalist and podcast host based in Los Angeles. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Science in Radio, TV, & Film and a Bachelor of Arts in Theater. Jeffrey is also a Staff Writer at where he writes about movies, TV, games, wrestling, interviews talent, and covers special events such as Anime Expo, Comic-Con, and CinemaCon. When Jeffrey is not binging his favorite seasonal anime or show, he enjoys playing dodge ball, gaming, watching films, and enjoying UT football. You can find him on Twitter @Wheeljack83.