With about a month-and-a-half to go until the movie's wide release, the Mouse House has finally announced the remaining cast members: Gemma Chan (Captain Marvel), Benedict Wong (Doctor Strange), Daniel Dae Kim (Hellboy), Izaac Wang (Good Boys), Thalia Tran (Little), and Alan Tudyk (Resident Alien). To celebrate the casting news, Disney also dropped an epic new trailer, which finds the eponymous heroine forming an ecclectic team of heroes in an effort to unite a fractured land.
Check it out:
Tudyk is pretty much the John Ratzenberger of Disney Animation at this point. He is basically the studio's good luck charm, having appeared in almost every single one of its major releases. Some of his most notable roles include King Candy in Wreck-It-Ralph, the Duke of Weselton in Frozen, and Heihei in Moana.
For Raya, Tudyk is providing the animalistic vocals for Tuk Tuk, a bug/bear-type creature who rolls around like a roly poly. He’s small upon first meeting the youthful titular dragon seeker, and then becomes the older Raya's trusty steed. Did we mention he's flippin' adorable?
Kim takes up the post of Benja, Raya’s father, and guardian of the last vestiges of the dragons’ healing power.
Wong, on the other hand, voices Tong, a lone warrior and a giant with a heart of gold.
The youngest members of the cast — Izaac Wang and Thalia Tran — have been tapped to portray Boun and Noi respectively. Boun is a savvy entrepreneur and a hyperactive kid with a motormouth, and Noi is a baby con artist with a trio of “Ongis” (part monkey/part catfish creatures) as her gang members.
Inspired by the cultures and mythologies of Southeast Asia, the feature was directed by Don Hall (Big Hero 6) and Carlos López Estrada (Legion). Kelly Marie Tran stars as Raya, a brave young warrior in the kingdom of Kumandra, who must track down the fabled last dragon, Sisu (Awkwafina), after a plague called the "Drunn" turns her loved ones to stone. However, the dragon turns out to be nothing like she expected. The movie will make history with Disney's first-ever Southeast Asian princess.
"I can say that for me, the most important takeaway from these amazing cultures that we got a chance to interact with was the togetherness," producer Osnat Shurer (Moana) said at a recent press conference attended by SYFY WIRE. "The kind of coming together around food, very often, which is very cool. The coming together and the willingness, and the sense of 'we.' The sense of if we come together, we can achieve a lot. That was super, super important. I feel like ... if people take that away from the film when it comes out in a few weeks, it’s a thrill."
"I just wanted to echo what Osnat said in terms of community," added screenwriter Adele Lim (Crazy Rich Asians). "It’s an easy term to say, but I feel like with a lot of cultures in Southeast Asia, it’s really feeling that someone else’s child is your child. That you are responsible for the people in your community as if they are your own family. When that’s broken, it really breaks you individually as a person. And we really wanted to feel that within the movie."
Hall teased that "the importance of water was a huge visual thematic in the film," especially when it came to Sisu, who is a water dragon inspired by guardian spirits known as the Naga. "Water just became this reoccurring motif in the film that was extremely important," the filmmaker said.
For Lim's co-screenwriter, Qui Nguyen (The Society), it was important to provide an accurate depiction of martial arts. "For me, the thing that I really wanted, being a lifelong martial artist, was basically to make sure that our martial arts were correct," Nguyen explained. "So often when you see a big action movie that is depicted with people who look like me and Adele, the martial arts can be just any combination of anything. Really, they could be made-up martial arts. But for this, it was very important that the moves that Namaari, Benja, and Raya used were things that were based and rooted in Southeast Asian martial arts. Specifically, Pencak Silat, Arnis, and Muay Thai."
Raya and the Last Dragon arrives in theaters and on Disney+ Friday, Mar. 5. Like Disney's live-action remake of Mulan, the film will be available to stream for an extra fee.