Last week, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the press junket for the upcoming new Disney classic Moana! In attendance were the amazing Dwayne Johnson (voice of “Maui”), Auli’i Cravalho (voice of “Moana” and Disney Princess come to life), my Puerto Rican idol/old neighbor Lin-Manuel Miranda (Music by), Opetaia Foa’i (Music by), Legendary Disney Directors Ron Clements & John Musker, and Producer Osnat Shurer. I grew up in Washington Heights, on the same block Lin grew up on and we’re literally only a few years in age apart, so we probably used to play together! I digress…
During the junket the cast and filmmakers shared a bunch of interesting and fun facts about the film and I wanted to share 7 fun facts that I learned with you today!
1. Directors Ron Clements & John Musker have been working on the film for over 5 years, which is a much longer time period that they were used to working on an animated film. They had to wait for digital effects and software to be created for the film. They are used to working with traditional 2D animation, so working in 3D animation was a new experience and challenge for them.
2. Lin-Manuel Miranda got the job right when his son was born and while Hamilton was about to open for previews. It was an insanely busy time for him and he worked on the music in the middle of performing in the show. At some points he would do video conference calls in full costume!
3. Dwayne Johnson wanted to sing in the film and couldn’t wait to showcase his vocal skills!
4. Lin-Manuel Miranda shared it wasn’t difficult for him to relate to the music because of his Puerto Rican culture. (We like to dance just like the Pacific Islanders and I know what he’s talking about as I’m Puerto Rican as well.)
5. Opetaia Foa’i felt like his main role in working on the film was to preserve the history of his people and make a film that his culture could be proud of. His daughter is also singing in the film!
6. Auli’i Cravalho drew inspiration from her mother and she was actually nervous about the film when she first found out it was being made. She was worried about how it would depict the history of her culture and people. Thankfully, she is thrilled by how the film came out and her mom even has a line in the film!
7. And last but not least, Lin and Dwayne shared a fun story about how they worked on the song You’re Welcome (which Dwayne sings in the film). Here is what they said:
I got a lot of questions from reporters this week like, how did you get the Rock to sing? That’s not what happened here.
When Dwayne accepted the role he said, “So what are you giving me to sing?” and he was really excited for this and for me, I went to YouTube, where the answers always lie. I’m a big fan of his wrestling days and there was a time during your heel turn era where he would pull out a guitar and taunt whatever town he was in. I’d be like, can’t wait to get out of Chicago. I can’t do the eyebrow. And so I got a really good sense of his vocal range from that 10-minute super cut and then the rest of it was just writing lyrics that embody the spirit of Maui, who is this amazing demi-god, trickster god and once I had the title, You’re Welcome, which only Dwayne can pull off and still you have to love him and root for him, we were off to the races.
Look, man, it was an opportunity to challenge myself and yes, as Lin was saying, he did his research and by the time I got the song, it was in my comfortable range as well and then also parts of the song which pushed me a little bit, which I thought was appreciate because that’s what I needed vocally as well. Honestly, I had such a great time, one of the best times I’ve ever had in my career was actually working on this project and certainly working on that song, because also like we all love challenges, and this was a challenge, that the bar is set so incredibly high in a Disney film to sing.
We thought of Dwayne as the new Angela Lansbury.
Yes. Yes I am. Proudly.
You can truly see how much love was put in the film when you see this group together live. You can also see how much this group has become a family when you see them all together. They created an incredible film and I was lucky to already been given the opportunity to see it!
I’ll share my thoughts on the film with you later this week! Stay Tuned! You will love it!
MOANA arrives in theatres everywhere on November 23rd!