Don Hall (Moana, Big Hero 6) and Carlos López Estrada (Blindspotting) have now been announced as directors. Raya’s original directors, Paul Briggs and Dean Wellins, are now listed as co-directors.
Playwright-screenwriter Qui Nguyen (She Kills Monsters, Vietgone) has also been added as a screenwriter; Crazy Rich Asians’ Adele Lim penned the original screenplay.
Disney also released a new first look photo of Raya and her trusty steed Tuk Tuk (seen below).
In a statement to Entertainment Weekly, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Chief Creative Officer Jennifer Lee addressed the hiring of Tran, Hall, and López Estrada:
“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. … 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.”
Raya and the Last Dragon is the first Disney animated film to showcase Southeast Asia. Nguyen told EW how important it was to have “the artists who represent those cultures in there to be able to give the subtleties of what our families are actually like, what our relationships are actually like, has given a lot of nuances to this great adventure.”
Tran said that while Raya is a princess, the movie aims”to flip the narrative on what it means to be a princess.” The actress, who played Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, described Raya as “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.”
Disney Characters and the Actors Who Voiced Them
Disney touted Raya and the Last Dragon at last year’s D23 Expo, bringing out original voice actor Cassie Steele, co-star Awkwafina, and original writer Adele Lim to present three minutes of footage from the movie.
Raya and the Last Dragon isn’t the first animated Disney release to get an overhaul. Ratatouille, Brave, and Cars 2 all replaced their directors, while The Good Dinosaur was “completely reimagined” and saw its voice actors recast.