The Rock's Moana Character Was Actually Inspired By His Grandpa

Maui Moana

Disney's Moana was another huge hit for both Disney, and Dwayne Johnson. Johnson has had incredible success since he made the transition from professional wrestling, but it appears his Moana character owes a bit to sports entertainment. The man who was once only known as The Rock, recently admitted that Maui was partially inspired by his own grandfather, wrestler High Chief Peter Maivia. According to the former Rocky Maivia...

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 man who is known to millions and millions as The Rock had professional wrestling in his blood from day one. His father was a wrestler named Rocky Johnson, while his mother's father was known as High Chief Peter Maivia. When Dwayne Johnson first debuted in WWE he was given both of their names in order to reference his lineage, and was known as Rocky Maivia, which eventually evolved into The Rock.

As half Samoan, The Rock had a connection to the story of Moana, as it is based on Polynesian culture and myth, but beyond that, the Rock said on Twitter that his own family directly inspired the film. A look at High Chief Peter Maivia shows exactly how Maivia, who was an actual Samoan High Chief, inspired Maui's look, Maui's face bears more than a passing resemblance to Maivia and Maui is built much more like the High Chief than he is Dwayne Johnson, though the eyebrow is all Rock. Below is the tweet that Dwayne Johnson responded to which revealed the information and shows the resemblance.

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Eventually, High Chief Peter Maivia would actually look more like Maui than he does in this picture. When Mavia was made High Chief he had significant tattooing done on his body, just like Maui.

The importance of family is a big part of why Moana goes on her journey in the film, as it's also a big part of Polynesian culture. As such, it's nice to see that this theme wasn't simply represented in the plot, but also permeated the production of the movie itself making Dwayne Johnson's own family a part of the movie in a small way.

Moana is currently available streaming on Netflix and if you haven't seen it do yourself a favor and go fix that. You're welcome.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.