Entertainment Weekly has shared new details about Disney Animation’s Raya and the Last Dragon, including a recasting of the lead character with Star Wars actress Kelly Marie Tran.

What’s Happening:

  • Entertainment Weekly has exclusively revealed new details about Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon, the full story can be read here.
  • The image above is the first fully rendered image from the film released, showing Raya with TukTuk, described as a giant insect and her steed. The two are about to set out on an adventure to find the last dragon to help save their home from a villain named Druun.
  • The biggest reveal in the article is that the lead character Raya, previously being voiced by Cassie Steele, will now be voiced by Star Wars actress Kelly Marie Tran. The article includes lots of praise for Tran’s recording sessions so far.
  • Don Hall, Carlos López Estrada, Paul Briggs and John Ripa have been revealed as the film’s directors.
  • Like they did on Moana, Walt Disney Animation Studios has established a story trust of Southeast Asia cultural ambassadors who the filmmakers met on research trips to Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
  • Co-Director Don Hall is quoted as saying the film is “the most beautiful animated film I've ever seen.”
  • Production on the film has continued from remote locations, a first for Walt Disney Animation Studios, and 50% of the animation work is already completed.
  • Raya and the Last Dragon is scheduled for release on March 12th, 2021.

What They’re Saying:

  • Jennifer Lee, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Chief Creative Officer: “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.”
  • Kelly Marie Tran, Voice of Raya: “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. 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.”
  • Qui Nguyen, Writer: “When you're telling a story and you're just doing it based on research, you end up always having to do it from the high end. 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.”
  • Carlos López Estrada, Co-Director: “I don’t know if Disney has ever made a movie that reflects so much what is happening with the world outside. Even though our team has been working on this movie for years and years and years, it's going to feel like an idea that we had maybe a month ago because it talks so much about the themes and the questions and the hope that's happening today and also the lack of hope, and this wrestling with all these really, really important emotions that are happening right now.”