Disney’s Live-Action Lilo And Stitch Movie Has Cast Its First Star, And It’s A Comedy Fan-Favorite

Zach Galifianakis as The Happy Medium in A Wrinkle in Time
(Image credit: Walt Disney Pictures)

After the Disney Renaissance concluded in 1999 with Tarzan, the Mouse House’s theatrical output was more hit and miss in the immediate years after, but one of the most successful movies during this period was 2002’s Lilo & Stitch. The Hawaii-set story about a young girl who adopts a chaotic alien she thinks is a dog was both a critical and commercial hit, and since 2018, a live-action Lilo & Stitch remake has been in development. Nearly half a decade later, the upcoming movie has finally cast its first star, and it’s a comedy fan-favorite.

Zach Galifianakis of The Hangover and Baskets fame has reportedly closed a deal to appear in the live-action take on Lilo & Stitch. Unfortunately, THR didn’t have any details about who Galifianakis will play. The outlet also mentioned that the search is underway to find actress to play Lilo and her older sister Nana. Stitch, of course, will be a CGI creation. This will be Galifianakis’ first Disney movie since A Wrinkle in Time, where he played The Happy Medium. However, he did voice the title character in 2021’s Ron’s Gone Wrong, which was the first animated movie released by the then-newly-named 20th Century Studios after it was acquired by Disney.

Looking over the original Lilo & Stitch’s lineup of players, there isn’t a human character who’s a good fit for Zach Galifianakis to play, although as is often the case with these live-action Disney remakes, it’s possible this remake will bring in some brand-new people. However, pushing that option aside, Galifiankis seems like a solid fit for Dr. Jumba Jookiba, the alien mad scientist who created Stitch and was sent to Earth to retrieve the little terror with Agent Wendy Pleakley. Jumba was voiced by David Ogden Stiers in the original, and if Galifianakis were to play the character, it’d be interesting to see if he would appear on-camera and be made up to look like an alien, or if Jumba would also be entirely CGI, and Galifianakis would voice him and possibly do motion capture. If the remake’s version of Jumba looks anything like his animated counterpart, I’m leaning towards the latter option.

UPDATE: The Wrap is hearing that Zach Galifianakis will actually be playing Pleakley, but this has yet to be confirmed.

Dean Fleischer Camp, who recently directed the Oscar-nominated Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, is helming the live-action Lilo & Stitch movie, and Chris Kekaniokalani Bright is writing the script. The original Lilo & Stitch was written and directed by Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, the latter of whom is working on a live-action remake of How To Train Your Dragon after having previously directed the original animated trilogy. Rather than being given a theatrical run, the new Lilo & Stitch is expected to be released directly to Disney+ subscribers, which is also how Lady and the Tramp, Pinocchio and the upcoming Peter Pan & Wendy were handled.

Now that Zach Galifianakis has been cast in Lilo & Stitch, hopefully this means more actors will be announced in the coming weeks, and that production might begin before the year is finished. Keep your eyes peeled on CinemaBlend for more updates on its progress while you read through our coverage of 2023 new movie releases.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.