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Disney's Moana Almost Had A Completely Different Main Character

"Moana" was a massive success for Disney and a great step in boosting the representation of different ethnicities in animated properties.

The movie follows Moana, the daughter of a Polynesian chief. She departs on an adventure to find the demigod Maui and save her village's island, which the monstrous Te Kā is poisoning with darkness. During her journey, Moana shipwrecks on an island and finds Maui. The two sail off to find the demigod's magical fishhook, but once acquired, Maui must relearn to control his shapeshifting abilities.

"Moana" was a hit for fans and casual viewers alike. The movie inspired many interesting fan theories, and Disney recently announced the characters are making their way to both Epcot and Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Die-hard Disney fans are one of the most dedicated fanbases out there, with many of them knowing every detail about upcoming Disney projects and attractions. However, even the most committed fans may not know that the studio initially planned for "Moana" to focus on a different character.

Maui was the original main character of Moana

"Moana" directors Ron Clements and John Musker revealed to CinemaBlend that the original plan was to make the Polynesian-centered movie focus on Maui, played by Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson. The duo knew they wanted to represent Polynesian culture in their movie and, after quick research, found Maui to be an interesting character to focus on. It wasn't until producer John Lasseter suggested they take a trip to some Pacific Island locations that their plans changed.

"There was the first version of the story, before we went to the islands and that was John's idea, I think, and it was inspired by wanting to do a film in that part of the world, which he didn't know that much about," Clements said. "He read a lot of the mythology and Maui really comes out of that as this wonderful character. He's a demi-god, a shape-shifter and with this magical fishing hook he could pull up islands. So our very first version of the story, our sort of title for it was Mighty Maui, and it was a Maui-centric story, based on two or three Maui myths that we just kind of mashed together."

The directing duo ended up scrapping most of their plans following their journey to the islands. Clements said their original view was pretty stereotypical, as they weren't familiar with the culture. The trip opened their eyes to the Polynesian culture and led them to include aspects of it in "Moana." The islanders' connection to nature and their rich history of navigation were all added as a result of the directors' trip.