Entertainment Weekly has revealed that Star Wars: The Last Jedi Star, Kelly Marie Tran has signed on to voice Raya in Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon, replacing Cassie Steele (Degrassi) who was announced at D23 last year. Awkwafina is playing Sisu, a dragon in human form who needs Raya’s help to reclaim her power and become her true dragon self.
Production on the animated project was ramped up in March, and Raya team had to quickly reshuffle, working with equipment at home and communicating through Zoom. Despite the challenges, director Don Hall says the studio’s various teams rallied to create what he calls “the most beautiful animated film I’ve ever seen.” As the filmmaker behind beloved pictures like Winnie the Pooh, Big Hero 6, and Moana, Hall knows what he’s talking about.
Ew has also revealed a brand new first look image on the project that reveals some new characters. Featured in the picture are Raya and her trusty steed Tuk Tuk, a creature Hall describes as a fuzzy bear meets “an insect version of an armadillo.” As an evil force threatens the fictional kingdom of Kumandra, the two must leave their Heart Lands home and track down the last dragon to help stop the villainous Druun.
Also announced are Hall and Carlos López Estrada (Disney+ Robin Hood remake) as directors, while playwright Qui Nguyen is joining Crazy Rich Asians scribe Adele Lim as co-writer.
“As filmmakers, Don and Carlos bring a combination of animation know-how and emotional storytelling to Raya and the Last Dragon, bringing our fantasy adventure to surprising, original, and dynamic heights,” Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Chief Creative Officer Jennifer Lee says in a statement to EW. “They both saw the potential for this film and had a strong vision for the story, especially for our lead character, played by the wonderfully talented Kelly Marie Tran. And no small feat, directors Don and Carlos, writers Qui and Adele, and the entire crew of 400 Disney Animation artists are making this film together, while separated and working from home.”
Kelly Marie Tran teased that Raya is a high-octane action film, and even hinted that Raya is possibly Disney’s newest Disney Princess.
“She is someone who is technically a princess but I think that what’s really cool about this project, about this character, specifically is that everyone’s trying to flip the narrative on what it means to be a princess,” Tran says. “Raya is totally a warrior. When she was a kid, she was excited to get her sword. And she grows up to be a really badass, gritty warrior and can really take care of herself.”
Raya’s creative team is chugging toward the finish line, Hall says, with the film 50 percent animated at this point. What’s astonishing to the filmmakers isn’t the fact that they’ve been able to accomplish so much in the time of coronavirus and global unrest, it’s how much Raya mirrors the state of the world.
Raya and the Last Dragon is set to premiere March 21, 2021.
Source: Entertainment Weekly