Disney’s MOANA Exclusive Interview with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Maui

As part of the #MoanaEvent press trip I just recently attended at the invite of Disney, we had the pleasure of interviewing the talent and the filmmakers – including this year’s Sexiest Man Alive – Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. It ended up being one of the most fun interviews I’ve ever had the pleasure of doing. What a great, fun, charismatic guy! Dwayne plays the role of Mauai in the film (and does a GREAT job with that, I might add – you can read our MOANA movie review here).  So, read on to see what The Rock had to say about making the movie…and why the interview was so funny! interview-dwayne-johnson

Q: Why was it important for you to do this role?

What’s that thing? Money! [LAUGHTER] It was important for me to do the role because it was a great opportunity to showcase our Polynesian culture to the world. I’m half Samoan and half black. I felt I wasn’t too sure that I was ever going to get the opportunity again to showcase culture, and our culture’s very rich and we’re very proud of it. It was also, an opportunity to work with Disney in a classic animated capacity with the element of music. I’ve done two Disney movies in the past. Live action movies, but this is a different machine. It’s still the same umbrella, but it’s a different machine, and again, the opportunity to hopefully make a movie that was not only good, but you have a real good shot at creating something that was like a classic. And that’s what I wanted to do.

Maui

Q: What do you want people to take away from the film?

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I think there’s a few messages that people can take away from the movie. I think the cultural aspect is something that that is very cool. I love that. I also think that they did a tremendous job of representing our culture in a way that makes us proud. First there was a little bit of hesitance, from all of us by the way, but it was quickly quelled when I sat with John Lasseter and our filmmakers and they had taken me through their process. So by the time the script got to me, they’d already done years of research in going to all the different islands, and speaking with the high chiefs in all the villages and trying to understand the cultures, which comes out in the authenticity, I think, of the writing. So the takeaway would be showcasing our culture, and seeing that there’s a wonderful quality of our culture, and there’s a fierceness to our culture too, and a tremendous pride.

Also, I think there’s a great takeaway that speaks to all cultures, and ages, and religions, and everything else that our world has. We have this little voice inside of us, and to always make sure that we got to follow that voice, and listen to the voice – a gut intuition, and have that kind of faith, not necessarily religious faith, but faith that there is more. And you can be more. Kind of relevant today, right? So… I would say that. 

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Q: What are you hoping children will take away from this film?

Well, to have fun, number one, and enjoy it.   I’ve seen the movie with an audience, and unbeknownst to them that I was there, and it was really cool and special when all the kids were leaving.  There was just this energetic thing that happened where they kind of leave floating. When you accomplish that, it’s just such a cool thing, because it stays with us for life, as we get older. To create magic like that for our kids, and adults, is awesome.

I think the takeaway for kids would be a few things. I think number one, having the confidence in yourself, that you are good enough. There’s a saying that we have in Polynesian culture, ‘Don’t go beyond the reef.’ We showcase that in the movie. Well you can go beyond the reef. And going back to listening to the little voice inside of you.   Life is so noisy and there’s so much noise, it’s important that you to listen to it. You always want to revert back to the little voice that you have inside of you, saying you are good enough and you can do things.

That message is my favorite takeaway as well. One of the most powerful lyrics of all the songs in the movie comes from the song, “I am Moana”. Here Moana says,

I am everything I’ve learned and more
Still it calls me
And the call isn’t out there at all, it’s inside me
It’s like the tide; always falling and rising
I will carry you here in my heart you’ll remind me
That come what may
I know the way
I am Moana!

It’s SUCH a powerful message for kids, but even adults. I find myself tearing up at that every time I see the movie and listen to the soundtrack. The song is SO good! And speaking of songs, did you know The Rock can sing? Yep, it’s true. Maui sings my boys’ favorite song in the movie, “You’re Welcome”. Dwayne even raps in the movie – the song written for him by Lin-Manuel Miranda. The two even sang a little bit together at the World Premiere night! So, we HAD to ask Dwayne a question about working on the music.

Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

Q: You’re so much more versatile than people give you credit for. Talk about the rapping you did in this role.

Yes! Let me talk a little bit about that – yes! Of course. So I used the word opportunity before; it was a great opportunity to push myself, and to sing,. The bar’s set very high in a Disney movie when there’s the element of music. I felt confident going in because I felt confident that I could prepare and do the things that I can control.

And also they surrounded me with really amazing collaborators musically — like, masterful musical  people, and Lin-Manuel, and Opetaia, by the way, Mark Mancina, they’re just— very, very special. I was excited to sing a song, and to Lin’s credit, he did a lot of research.  I’ve sung in the past, but for fun, like I would go on a talk show – Ellen, or something – and I would break out a guitar and sing, and just make it kind of fun and silly. But he did his research and he found a comfortable range that I could sing in, and then he also pushed me a little bit, and I had a real, real, real good time. And rapping too and the whole thing, so… I’m a rapper. 

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So, adding to all his other fun credits (now including Sexiest Man Alive), The Rock is also a rapper! 😉 HA! So fun! The song really is great – so much personality in it! There’s a lot of The Rock in Maui, which we talked about too!

Q: So beside the eyebrows, what else do you see in Maui that’s you?

Yeah there was a good amount that was infused in Maui. I think that there’s a part of Maui that I can appreciate, because it’s my DNA; I share that with him. There’s a fun side to Maui, and a need to keep things and a desire to keep things fun, and keep them a little bit on the lighter side, not quick to show the vulnerability, and not quick to go down that route. So, I would say that. Yeah. And some bravado, a lot of bravado, because you can mask a lot with bravado. Yes.

I think it was at this point that Leanette from Funtastic Life (top right in the photo) asked a question referencing Maui’s pectoral muscle movement in the film. There were hand gestures, leading to hilarious comments, blushing, bursts of laughter, and then sweating. IT WAS HILARIOUS! He was laughing; we were laughing. He then said, “You’ve got me sweating; I was trying to keep it cool, but I can’t” Hahahaha! He then even got up to get a cloth napkin (to use as a towel) for himself and then for Leanette.

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SO much fun!!!! And, apparently HE thought it was so much fun too, because we were all quite excited to see his instagram share later that night – a picture FROM our interview time with him! The shot is taken from directly behind me, so though I’m not in the photo – that was my visual perspective on the interview. Love that he shared the photo and enjoyed talking with us!

But, we were all able to regain composure and get back to the interview. We did talk about his family (which you can tell he is completely in love with). He lit up when talking about his 11-month old daughter, Jasmine (who is listed in the the “production babies” credits). Given his insanely busy life and his love of his family, one last important question was about how he juggles everything:

Q: As a father, and being such a successful businessman, do you have any time management tips?

Oh boy. Yeah, what a great question, right? It’s a constant management of trying to figure out the balance. Lauren and I are consistently checking in with ourselves on where can we improve. What kind of support do we need? How can we improve our time? What can we do and find the balance? I think for us, it’s just been a consistent management of time check-in, and are we doing the right things at the right time, are we checking our ego at the door and asking for help where we need it? ‘Cause we find that there’s a lot of people around in our families and friends, our circle, who are willing to say, “I got you! What do you need? What can I help you—“ and then so often, especially with Lauren, especially with you moms, it’s, “I can do it. I got it. No no no, I’ll get it. I’ll get it.” So it’s just for us, it’s been just a consistent check-in.

SO much I can relate to from that as a mom trying to juggle work, the kids, the house, etc. So, it was fun to hear him talk about life in that very relatable way. Such a great interview experience!

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So go see Dwayne Johnson as Maui when MOANA when it sails into theaters on Nov. 23rd!!!! 

Moana Poster

Three thousand years ago, the greatest sailors in the world voyaged across the vast Pacific, discovering the many islands of Oceania. But then, for a millennium, their voyages stopped – and no one knows exactly why. From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes “Moana,” a sweeping, CG-animated feature film about an adventurous teenager who sails out on a daring mission to save her people. During her journey, Moana (voice of Auli‘i Cravalho) meets the mighty demigod Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson), who guides her in her quest to become a master wayfinder. Together, they sail across the open ocean on an action-packed voyage, encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds, and along the way, Moana fulfills the ancient quest of her ancestors and discovers the one thing she’s always sought: her own identity.

Disclaimer: I was invited and hosted by Disney the #MoanaEvent as part of an all-expenses paid press trip. As always, all opinions and love of Disney are entirely my own. Photos used in the post are courtesy of Disney and  Louise Bishop/MomStart.com.

 

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