Support Grows for Will Smith to Star in ‘Moana’

Will Smith and Maui
Credit: Disney/AP

Will Smith rose to infamy last year during the 94th Academy Awards.

The Slap Heard Around the World

As many people may remember, Smith walked up on stage and slapped comedian Chris Rock over a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. He then returned to his seat and shouted multiple times at Rock to keep his wife’s name out of his mouth.

Will Smith Chris Rock


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Later that night, Smith won the award for Best Actor and received a standing ovation from the Hollywood celebrities in attendance. After public backlash, Smith formally apologized to the Academy. However, Will Smith was still banned from attending the Academy Awards for the next ten years.

Will Smith


A Rock Solid Fan Base

Despite the massive criticisms Will Smith received during, and after the event, a large following of his fans still continues to support him. One such fan is pushing for Will Smith to star in Disney’s live action version of Moana on

The petition states that Will Smith’s acting as the Genie in Disney’s live action remake of Aladdin (2019) and being a recipient of an academy award makes him uniquely qualified for the role of Maui in the film. The petition also states that although Smith is not Polynesian, Disney has not always consistently cast live action characters of the same race or ethnicity as their animated counterparts.

Will Smith Aladdin


They also make the case that the role of Moana should be played by Chloe Lang, who starred as Stephanie in the Lazytown (2013-2014) TV series.

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The petition further suggests Joe Pesci for the role of Tamatoa, and that the movie should be directed by James Cameron, the famed director of Titanic (1998) and Avatar (2009).

Credit: Photo by Twentieth Century-Fox Film

Credit: Fox Studios

Could it Happen?

Although the petition pre-dates the official announcement of Disney to produce a live action remake of Moana (2016) with Dwayne Johnson as Maui, the petition still gains support. People have signed on to back the petition as recently as May 1. Although it seems doubtful Disney would go in this direction with the film, who knows?

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Maui from Moana

Credit: Disney

When it comes to Hollywood, anything is possible.

About Steven Wilk

Steven has a complicated relationship with Disney. As a child, he visited Walt Disney World every few years with his family. But he never understood why kids his age (and older) were so scared of Snow White or Alien Encounter. He is a former participant of the Disney College Program (left early…long story), and he also previously worked in Children’s publishing, where he adapted multiple Disney movies and TV shows. He has many controversial opinions about Disney…like having a positive view of Michael Eisner, believing Return of the Jedi is superior to The Empire Strikes Back, and that Toy Story Land and Galaxy’s Edge should have never been built (at least not at Hollywood Studios). Every year for the past two decades, Steven has visited either Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Aulani or went on a Disney Cruise. He’s happy to share any and all knowledge of the Disney destinations (and he likes using parenthesis a lot…as well as ellipses…)