Maui from ‘Moana’ is based on The Rock’s real-life grandfather

Getty Images | Jesse Grant

Fans of the modern-day Disney classic “Moana” know that Maui, voiced by none other than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, is a central character in the film. Now, some insider information about everyone’s favorite demi-god has been revealed. It turns out that Maui was actually modeled after The Rock’s real-life late grandfather.

It all started when a fan tweeted these side-by-side photos of Maui along with The Rock’s grandfather, High Chief Peter Maivia of Samoa. The resemblance is pretty apparent!

The Rock then responded on social media, confirming that the uncanny resemblance was a not an accident. The actor wrote on Twitter, “a lil’ @Disney gem of a secret, my character Maui was partly inspired by my late grandfather, High Chief Peter Maivia of Samoa #grateful.”

The Rock is not the first member of his family to make a name for himself in the entertainment industry. His grandfather was the first of the Maivia/Johnson family to enter the WWE in the late 1970s. While The Rock followed in his grandfather’s footsteps and got his start in professional wrestling, he, of course, went on to become a successful film star. Turns out his grandpa also tried his luck in Hollywood, having appeared in the 1967 Bond film “You Only Live Twice.”

The Rock, who is of Polynesian descent, said making “Moana” “was an opportunity to showcase Polynesian culture to the world on the big screen in a way that it had never been showcased before.”

According to the actor, Maui is not the only character from the film that shares characteristics with one of his family members. Johnson said that the title character of Moana reminds him of his daughter.

“Ambitious and has a really strong point of view. Wants to tackle the world—loving tapping into her own identity. Putting me in my place,” he said last year on Good Morning America of his then-15-year-old daughter, Simone.

Now that you know the backstory of “Moana,” you’re guaranteed to love it even more next time you watch!

MORE: Watch Disney’s first-look clip of ‘Moana 2,’ coming to theaters this year


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Kate Streit
Kate Streit lives in Chicago. She enjoys stand-up comedy, mystery novels, memoirs, summer and pumpkin spice anything.

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