Actress Auli’i Cravalho has decided not to reprise her starring role in Disney’s upcoming live-action remake of its acclaimed computer-animated film, Moana. The performer, who made her acting debut as the voice of the titular character in the original 2016 movie, posted a video to Instagram yesterday to share the news.
“When I was cast as Moana at 14, it wonderfully changed my life and started my career,” Cravalho, who is now 22-years-old, said in the video. “In this live-action retelling, I will not be reprising the role. I believe it is absolutely vital that casting accurately represents the characters and stories we want to tell.”
“I can’t wait to find the next actress to portray Moana’s courageous spirit, undeniable wit and emotional strength,” the Hawaii-based filmmaker, who most recently starred on the Prime Video sci-fi television series The Power, continued. Instead of starring in the upcoming live-action remake, she’ll be serving as an executive producer.
“I’m truly honored to pass this baton to the next woman of Pacific Island descent to honor our incredible Pacific peoples, cultures and communities that help inspire her story, and I look forward to all the beautiful Pacific representation to come. Mahalo,” Cravalho, who’s currently playing Janis Sarkisian in the upcoming Paramount+ film Mean Girls: The Musical, added.
Dwayne Johnson, who voiced the demigod Maui in the original action-adventure movie, and Disney revealed that they will be making the live-action Moana remake early last month. The actor will be reprising his role in the upcoming film.
At the time that Johnson and Disney announced that they would be remaking the movie, he said: “I’m deeply humbled and overcome with gratitude to bring the beautiful story of Moana to the live-action big screen. This story is my culture, and this story is emblematic of our people’s grace and warrior strength. I wear this culture proudly on my skin and in my soul, and this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reunite with Maui, inspired by the mana and spirit of my late grandfather, High Chief Peter Maivia, is one that runs very deep for me.”
The actor will also serve as a produce on the upcoming live-action film, alongside Dany Garcia and Hiram Garcia through their Seven Bucks Productions and Beau Flynn via Flynn Picture Co. Scott Sheldo will executive produce the live-action Moana remake alongside Cravalho. Jared Bush and Samoan industry leader Dana Ledoux Miller will also be involved in the production.
The original musical fantasy movie tells the story of the eponymous protagonist, who’s a young Polynesian girl and the daughter of the local chief. She sets sail from her home island against her parents’ wishes to find Maui, who’s missing, and restore balance to the world. In doing so, she revives her people’s heritage of wayfinding (traveling long distances by boat, using nature for navigation and drawing on a long oral tradition) and helps Maui find redemption.
The original version of Moana was directed by Disney legends John Clements and Ron Musker, who previously helmed the animated version of The Little Mermaid in 1989. That film’s live-action remake will be released in theaters this Friday, May 26. Screenwriter Jared Bush, who penned the animated Moana, is also involved in some capacity on the live-action remake.
The original Moana earned $683 million at the worldwide box office. It remains one of Disney’s best performing movies on VOD and SVOD platforms.
Moana was nominated for two Academy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards, including Best Animated Feature Film and Best Original Song. The film also won a Grammy Award for Best Song Written For Visual Media for Lin-Manuel Miranda‘s track, How Far I’ll Go.