In the animal city of Zootopia, a fast-talking fox who’s trying to make it big goes on the run when he’s framed for a crime he didn’t commit. Zootopia’s top cop, a self-righteous rabbit, is hot on his tail, but when both become targets of a conspiracy, they’re forced to team up and discover even natural enemies can become best friends.
Moana’s theatrical debut is only a handful of months away, and new info is fresh in for Disney’s first Polynesian princess. Previously, audiences only really knew of the chief’s daughter-turned-sea-navigator, chosen by the ocean, and her demigod friend, Maui. A new international trailer recently showed her playing with the shore as a baby. The recent pictures show us the other characters in Moana’s world.
Chief Tui and Sina are Moana’s parents. They watch over Motunui Island, where they live. Tui is being portrayed by Temuera Morrison, a New Zealand actor of Maori descent—but you may know him as the face of Star Wars’ Jango Fett. Sina is being played by Nicole Scherzinger, the singer known for being in the girl group The Pussycat Dolls,who was also born in Honululu to a Native Hawaiian mother. Their inclusion makes Moana one of the few Disney princesses to have both of her parents alive–an exclusive club of only Mulan, Merida, and Rapunzel. She will also be one of the few princesses to have an active mother role.
Moana’s grandmother, who was previously seen in concept art at D23, is Gramma Tala. Tala is said to have a tight bond with her granddaughter, perhaps even tighter than the one she has with her parents. She encourages Moana to follow her heart. She is being portrayed by Rachel House, another New Zealand actor with Maori heritage.
There are also a number of animal sidekicks abound, as par for the course with most Disney movies. Moana’s pig Pua, as seen in the first trailer, will not have a speaking role–but he will be very cute. Along the way, Moana and Maui run into Tamatoa, a fifty foot tall crab from the land of monsters, known as the Lalotai. The crab will be played by another NZ actor, Jemaine Clement. Jemaine is famous for being one-half of the NZ comedy music duo Flight of the Conchords. Jemaine’s partner, Brett, worked with Disney before composing award-winning music for the Muppet movies. Jemaine has also previously worked with Moana writer Taika Waititi on the film What We Do in the Shadows. Jemaine is also of Maori descent. He was encouraged to improvise by the film’s crew for the role.
HeiHei is another of Moana’s animal friends. He’s played by voice actor Alan Tudyk, who’s become something of a Disney staple (he portrayed King Candy in Wreck-it Ralph, as well as the Duke of Weselton in Frozen, and of course Duke Weasleton in Zootopia). Tudyk is one of the few cast members who is not of Polynesian descent. HeiHei technically doesn’t have a speaking role, but Tudyk composed his own rooster talk for the character.
Some light was also shed on the film’s story. Auli’i Cravalho, the teenage actress behind Moana, said the princess will have some of her mannerisms.
“I tend to talk a lot — and talk quickly — so there’ll be a little bit of rambling in some scenes. And she touchers her hair a lot, and I do that when I’m nervous.” (source) At least one aspect of the film revolves around Maui getting his legendary hook back, which Tamatoa has.
“I wish Disney would do something scary and surreal like they did in the REALLY early films like Snow White, Pinocchio, and Dumbo. I find a lot of critics point to that era as the best Disney’s ever had, and the older I get the more I can understand that. The scary stuff might upset your kids, but there was an art to them!”