Discussing The Significance of Moana And Family With Dwayne The Rock Johnson #Moana
So, I’m not sure if you heard, but I got to hang out with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson last week 🙂 Well, I got to interview him and take a few photos with him. “Hanging out” sounds like so much more fun than “press junket”. So, for the purposes of helping my ego, I’m going to call it “hanging out” 😀 I, along with 24 other bloggers from across the country, was able to spend time asking him about Moana, his family, and the cultural significance Moana has to him. He was so easy to talk to and genuinely enjoyed talking about his culture and his family. He is such an amazing actor and, it seems, he is just as amazing of a dad! He’s really easy to look at too 😀 It didn’t hurt that he was named “Sexiest Man Alive” by People Magazine while we were there!
The interview started with the importance of this role to him. Of course, we all knew Dwayne Johnson was Samoan, so it must have been amazing for him to be part of this film.
Why was it important for you to do this role?
Dwayne Johnson: 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, and it was an opportunity for me. I felt I wasn’t too sure that I was ever going to get the opportunity again to showcase my culture, and our culture’s very rich and we’re very proud of it. And it was also an opportunity to work with Disney in this capacity, 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. It was, 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 a classic, and that’s what I wanted to do.
The interview continued with a question about cultural significance. I have to take a minute to point out something though: LOOK AT THAT SMILE!!! Oh my goodness! He is adorable.
What was the biggest challenge?
Dwayne Johnson: The biggest challenge would be, it’s just a different muscle to exercise, and it was almost like a baptism by fire. I had a lot of help around me which was nice. What I mean by the help is, finding ways to really add real zest and life to words… and to sentences, and as you’re articulating things and in conversations with with Moana, who’s played by Auli’i. I’d say, that was the biggest challenge – making sure that the words that I spoke had life and the correct energy and the correct temperament and tone and intonation where it had to go to different places and pitch and things like that. It was a real fascinating experience for me.
Blogger: We saw it last night.
Dwayne Johnson: What’s that? Oh you did? Oh great! So, everybody like it? Just had to clarify.
Dwayne Johnson’s versatility always surprises me. Once I got to sit down and listen to him talk, I know why he’s so versatile. He really loves acting and it is so apparent in every answer he gave and the thoughtfulness of his answers.
You’re so much more versatile than people give you credit for. Talk about the rapping you did in this role.
Dwayne Johnson: 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 surround me with really amazing collaborators, musically; masterful musical people; Lin-Manuel, and Opetaia, Mark Mancina, there just very, very special. I was excited to sing a song, and to Lin’s credit, he did a lot of deep dive research. I’ve sung in the past, but 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.
There is so much culture in Moana. I could just sit and listen to him talk about his culture and what this film means to them all day long.
What do you want people to take away from the film? It’s so culturally infused. Is that what you want people to take away?
Dwayne Johnson: I think there are a few messages that people can take away from the movie. I also think that’s a wonderful thing I think about entertainment, and movies, and books that we read, we all have different interpretations of it. I think the cultural aspect is something 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, but it was quickly quelled when I sat with John Lasseter and our filmmakers and they took 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, and 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. 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.
In Moana, Maui had a tattoo for each accomplishment he made in his life. So, we wanted to know what tattoo would represent him 😀 His answers are so thoughtful and sweet.
Which accomplishment in your life would you like for that tattoo to represent?
Dwayne Johnson: Being a father. Yeah.
Speaking of that, you have performed as Pikachu at home – does Maui perform at home, as well?
Dwayne Johnson: So interesting – so we have Maui action figures and they’re kind of big, but we have separated Maui at home. So Maui is Maui, kind of sounds like Daddy. But Maui is just Maui. I just didn’t want to confuse her right because when she watches the videos all the time. It’s all about Maui, but now Pikachu, however… So, for those of you who don’t know, I dressed up as Pikachu for my daughter Jasmine. She’s eleven months old, and we were in Hawaii shooting, and she went to a pumpkin patch three weeks ago and she saw Pikachu. Someone dressed up as Pikachu and she freaked out. She loved it.
We all know Dwayne Johnson is known for his eyebrow raise, but we were curious if there were any of his other attributes that came through in creating Maui. The answer may surprise you 😀
So besides the eyebrows, what else do you see in Maui that’s you?
Dwayne Johnson: Thank 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, and not quick to show the vulnerability, 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.
Did they just animate you, or did you have to put on the costume for them to get the facial expressions and body movements?
Dwayne Johnson: It’s a really cool process for those of you who don’t know. There are multiple cameras in the room as you’re sitting in the studio and you’re going through these lines and your facial expressions will then inform the animators on the facial expressions of Maui. So, if I say ‘You can’t do that!’ my eyebrows go up, then that will inform the animators, compared to you can’t do that. So there are all these really amazing, unique little things that take place that they capture that informs the animation. And what I found was in the animation, especially when you’re on the ocean, and it is the ocean; it’s outside and it’s mother nature – it becomes really, really beautiful, and gorgeous.
About Disney’s Moana:
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 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 once-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. Directed by the renowned filmmaking team of Ron Clements and John Musker (“The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin,” “The Princess & the Frog”) and produced by Osnat Shurer (“Lifted,” “One Man Band”), “Moana” sails into U.S. theaters on Nov. 23, 2016.
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