Has there ever been a more perfect fit between a song from a Disney animated film and the real-life actor voicing the character who sings the song than in the mash-up of the Lin Manuel Miranda song, “You’re Welcome” and former WWE star-turned-Hollywood gold, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in Disney’s 2017 blockbuster Moana?
Perhaps not. And Johnson hasn’t steered away from a single opportunity to share his excitement over Disney’s live-action Moana, in which the former pro-wrestler stars as the demigod Maui and serves as executive producer. And he’s not shy about giving fans another go at it with his theme song in the film, “You’re Welcome”–as fans witnessed recently on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
The Story of Disney’s ‘Moana’
The animated feature film, which debuted at the box office during the 2017 Thanksgiving holiday, was an immediate success with moviegoers of all ages, and part of the film’s success was in no small part due to the star-studded cast who lent their voices to the characters in the story about a young girl and her optimism about finding better opportunities just over the forbidden horizon.
Moana tells the beautiful story of the character by the same name–a young girl with drive, ambition, and some pretty solid ideas about where the village might need to look to find fish since the usual fishing spots were beginning to dry up.
Despite warnings from her father, the chief of the village, about going beyond the boundaries of safety within the village, Moana knows she’s chosen for the task at hand and sets out on her own–well, on her own alongside a pompous demigod and a half-witted rooster, neither of which provide too much of a benefit for the young girl on her journey–at least not at first. But Moana’s journey takes her further than she ever thought possible–and requires more of her than she originally thought was needed.
Maui, the Formidable Demigod
Moana meets Maui, the demigod after he attempts to steal her boat from her. He is known for his massive size, his pompous attitude, and his giant fish hook, which he can use to shape-shift at will.
Though Moana is small in stature compared to Maui, she finds the strength within herself to demand that Maui board her boat and help her restore the heart of Te Fiti, which promises to restore peace and order to her family’s village and to the island where she lives.
A Live-Action ‘Moana’ is Already in the Works at Disney
Though it was largely no surprise that an animated film like Moana would eventually make it through the live-action mill at Walt Disney Studios, it was still a pleasant surprise for fans when it was announced–partially because of the way the announcement was made.
In April 2023, during the annual shareholders’ meeting for The Walt Disney Company, news of a live-action take-two of Moana was shared–and in the most creative and engaging way possible–with Dwayne Johnson at the helm, of course.
In a short promo announcing the upcoming live-action take on the story of Moana and her journey to restore the heart of Te Fiti, Dwayne Johnson is seen walking along the beaches of Hawaii with his daughters, Tiana, age 5, and Jasmine, age 7. Johnson promised the return of not only Moana but also of “Gramma Tala, the music, the dance, Te Fiti, Pua the pig, the village” and “the beautiful, powerful ocean.”
JUST ANNOUNCED: From Dwayne Johnson and Auli’i Cravalho, a live-action reimagining of Disney’s Moana is in the works! pic.twitter.com/mcHlqPNHx8
— Disney (@Disney) April 3, 2023
Johnson Talks ‘Moana’ with Jimmy Fallon
Last week, during an episode of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on NBC, Johnson, 51, confirmed that production will begin shortly for the new live-action film.
“My next project that I will be shooting is a live-action version of Moana,” Johnson revealed on Fallon’s late-night show.
“You’re real-life Maui!” Fallon exclaimed in response to Johnson’s admission that he’d be playing the same role to which he lent his voice in the animated version of the film.
“I am the real-life Maui,” Johnson said. “Thank you guys very much. I’m so excited about this.”
Johnson Transforms Into Maui on Stage
In true Dwayne Johnson form, the former wrestler-turned-Hollywood-icon couldn’t pass up the chance to do a little shape-shifting of his own, suddenly embodying Maui on stage next to Jimmy Fallon.
“I cannot wait,” Johnson shared excitedly. “Here’s the thing, Jimmy, listen . . . ” Then Johnson grabbed a microphone and began singing the words to his famous Moana song–even rapping every single word from the musical number shortly before host Jimmy Fallon joined in on the chorus.
You can see the performance in the video below: