Sail with Moana: A Look at the Voices Behind the Characters


Moana, Disney’s 2016 animated masterpiece, captured hearts with its stunning visuals, powerful story, and catchy music. But behind the animation lies a talented cast who brought these unforgettable characters to life. Let’s dive deep and meet the voices who helped Moana navigate the high seas!


Leading the Voyage: Auliʻi Cravalho as Moana

Moana, the spirited and determined daughter of a chief, is the heart and soul of the film. Auliʻi Cravalho, then a 14-year-old newcomer, landed the coveted role after over 800 girls auditioned. Cravalho’s natural charisma and youthful energy perfectly embodied Moana’s desire to defy tradition and save her people. This was Cravalho’s feature film debut, and she not only delivered a phenomenal vocal performance but also learned Tokelauan, an endangered Polynesian language, to deliver some of Moana’s lines. Cravalho’s portrayal of Moana earned her critical acclaim and solidified her place as a rising star.

Demigod with a Grudge: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Maui

Maui, the charming yet arrogant demigod tasked with restoring the heart of Te Fiti, is voiced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Johnson brings his signature charisma and humor to Maui, making him a lovable rogue despite his flaws. Maui’s character arc, from self-centered trickster to selfless hero, resonates deeply, and Johnson’s portrayal adds layers of complexity to the character. This role was a perfect fit for Johnson, who himself is of Polynesian descent and has a deep connection to the film’s themes of heritage and identity.

Ancestral Guidance: Rachel House as Gramma Tala

Gramma Tala, Moana’s wise and adventurous grandmother, serves as her confidante and guide. Veteran actress Rachel House brings warmth and strength to the role. House’s voice perfectly captures Gramma Tala’s unwavering belief in Moana’s potential and her connection to the ocean. Though physically limited, Gramma Tala’s spirit becomes a driving force for Moana throughout her journey.

A Chief’s Duty: Temuera Morrison as Chief Tui

Chief Tui, Moana’s protective father, is torn between his love for his daughter and his responsibility to keep her safe. Temuera Morrison, a renowned New Zealand actor, lends his gravitas to the role. Chief Tui’s character represents the weight of tradition and the fear of the unknown, making him a relatable foil to Moana’s adventurous spirit.

Darkness with a Flair: Jemaine Clement and Alan Tudyk as Tamatoa and Kakamora

Tamatoa, a narcissistic giant crab obsessed with shiny things, is voiced by Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords fame. Clement injects his signature deadpan humor into the role, making Tamatoa both hilarious and menacing. Visually stunning with his jeweled shell, Tamatoa serves as a formidable obstacle for Moana.

The Kakamora, a tribe of coconut-obsessed pirates, are voiced by the versatile Alan Tudyk. Tudyk brings a manic energy to the role, creating a delightfully chaotic villainous group. Despite their comedic portrayal, the Kakamora pose a serious threat to Moana and add a layer of action to the film.

The Heart of Polynesia: The Importance of Cultural Authenticity

Moana is celebrated for its commitment to cultural authenticity. The filmmakers worked closely with cultural consultants from Oceania to ensure the film accurately reflected Polynesian myths, traditions, and navigation techniques. This dedication is evident in the film’s visuals, music, and, of course, the voice cast. Several actors in the film, including Cravalho, Morrison, and many who voiced minor characters, are of Polynesian descent, lending a layer of genuineness to the characters’ voices.

A Legacy of Music: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Opetaia Foa’i, and Mark Mancina

The music of Moana is another key contributor to its success. Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning creator of Hamilton, teamed up with Opetaia Foa’i, a Polynesian musician, to create a captivating soundtrack that blends traditional Polynesian instruments with contemporary pop influences. Songs like “How Far I’ll Go” and “We Know the Way” became instant classics, capturing the film’s themes of adventure, self-discovery, and connection to one’s heritage.

The film’s score, composed by Mark Mancina, beautifully complements the story and characters. Mancina blends orchestral arrangements with Polynesian rhythms, creating a unique and evocative soundscape that immerses viewers in Moana’s world.


Who voices Moana?

Auliʻi Cravalho was a newcomer when she landed the iconic role of Moana. At just 14 years old, she delivered a powerful and heartwarming performance as the determined chief’s daughter.

The Rock sets sail! Who voices Maui?

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson brings his charisma and humor to the role of Maui, the mischievous demigod with magical tattoos.

You’re welcome (no, really)! Who voices Gramma Tala?

Gramma Tala, Moana’s wise and adventurous grandmother, is voiced by veteran actress Rachel House.

Who’s the chief calling the shots? Meet Chief Tui’s voice actor!

Temuera Morrison, a renowned actor from New Zealand, lends his voice to Moana’s father, Chief Tui.

Shiny! Who voices the narcissistic crab Tamatoa?

Jemaine Clement, one half of the comedic duo Flight of the Conchords, brings his quirky charm to the unforgettable (and crabby) Tamatoa.

Singing with the ancestors: Te Fiti’s voice actress

Grammy Award winner Nicole Scherzinger voices Te Fiti, the powerful goddess of life who features prominently in Moana’s journey.

Hei Hei the chicken: Does he have a voice actor?

Yes! The adorable (and not-so-bright) chicken Hei Hei is voiced by Alan Tudyk, who brings his comedic timing to the role.

Beyond the main cast: Who are some other notable voices?

Several talented actors round out the Moana cast, including:

Te Ka (the volcanic monster) – Rhys Darby

Pua (Moana’s pig) – John Ratzenberger (known for voicing Hamm in Toy Story)

Village elders – Louise Bush and Rachel Hunter

Was there a real Moana?

While Moana is not based on a specific historical figure, the character and story draw inspiration from Polynesian myths, legends, and navigation techniques.

Is there going to be a Moana 2?

There have been rumors of a Moana sequel, but Disney has not officially confirmed anything yet. However, with the film’s enduring popularity, a return to the Polynesian world could definitely be on the horizon!

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