We’ve known about the two leads lending their voices to Raya and the Last Dragon for a while now. Today we’re getting some major casting news, and Star Wars and Marvel connections are everywhere!
Kelly Marie Tran is Raya
Kelly Marie Tran came to prominence for her role as Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker. She will be providing the voice of Raya, a lone warrior who is tasked with tracking down the last dragon.
I think Kelly brings the humanity that we were looking for in Raya. She brings the humor that we were looking for. She brings the badassness that this character needed and just an incredible acting range. You’ll see Raya go through it all in this movie.-Carlos López Estrada, director
Awkwafina is Sisu
Awkwafina voices the titular last dragon Sisu. She’s also making her Marvel Cinematic Universe debut this year in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.
Awkwafina with Sisu was incredible. We obviously knew that she could do both drama and comedy. But it was really special working with her, and her ability to improvise was like another world. We got so much material but we could only keep a little bit of it in the film.-Don Hall, director
But every recording session with Awkwafina was just a party. It was just so much fun. She was having fun, and we were having fun. And, with what she brought to that character, I think Sisu’s going to have a special place in the Disney pantheon of characters. I can’t say enough good things about Awkwafina.
Benedict Wong is Tong
Benedict Wong portrays Tong in Raya and the Last Dragon. Wong is already a MCU regular, having appeared in Doctor Strange, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame. He’ll be back later this year in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
He is such a force of nature and he’s elemental in his power. Every recording session with Benedict was so much fun, and watching him become the character and how he physicalizes his performance and never wears down, never gets tired, and gives you a different version with each take. In fact, we generally had to stop him or he would still be going.Don Hall, director
He often joked that we could make five other movies of just his character, doing anything. Like, here is Tong cooking, here is Tong showing how to tie his shoes. He was that entertaining.Qui Nguyen, screenwriter
I think he was our editors’ worst nightmare because we would come back from recording sessions with, like, 50 possibilities for every single line, and they were all amazing. And the editors would be like, “What do I do with this?”Carlos López Estrada, director
Alan Tudyk is Tuk Tuk
Alan Tudyk has connections to both Star Wars and Marvel, having voiced Alistair Krei in Big Hero 6 and K-2SO in Rogue One. He’ll be the voice of the adorable Tuk Tuk in Raya and the Last Dragon. Now seems like a good place to mention that director Don Hall has his own Marvel connection as the director of Big Hero 6.
Gemma Chan is Namaari
Not only doesn’t Gemma Chan have one connection to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, she has two! She portrayed Minn-Erva in 2019’s Captain Marvel. She’ll be back later this year playing Sersi in Eternals. This March she’ll be providing the voice of Raya’s antagonist Namaari. I previously wrote about the connections between Crazy Rich Asians and Raya and the Last Dragon. Add one more to the list: Chan played Astrid Leong-Teo in the film.
When we were crafting this character, it was a character that we knew was going to be a bad guy that had to be Raya’s equal in every way. But also, one that I think always are the best—a bad guy who is one that you understand, and that you have sympathy for. In a strange way, you want to see them turn. And, with Gemma, she was able to work with that kind of nuance and subtlety to also show the pain of what Namaari was going through. So, even though she was our bad guy, our big bad, we always had, like, “whew, I wish they could get along.” That feeling was always there, and it was a hard tightrope to be on. But she did it wonderfully.Qui Nguyen, screenwriter
Daniel Dae Kim is Benja
Raya’s father Benja will be voiced by Daniel Dae Kim. He, too, has a Marvel connection having played a small part in 2003’s Hulk as well as portraying Raymond in 2004’s Spider-Man 2.
We really wanted somebody you could feel that warmth and compassion with and yet that sense of authority. And Daniel Dae Kim, within our community of Asian Americans in the United States, has done so much in terms of really promoting visibility for people who are underrepresented. And just him as a human being with so much warmth but again, you feel that strife. And it was just such a great piece of casting for us.Adele Lim, screenwriter
The remaining cast announcements don’t have any Star Wars or Marvel connections, but you never know when that might change!
Izaac Wang is Boun
Izaac Wang provides the voice of 10-year-old entrepreneur Boun, whom Raya and Sisu encounter on their journey.
We were working so hard to cast that role. We had auditioned a lot of young gentleman, and we just weren’t finding it because it’s a difficult character. He’s an adult in a kid’s body, and yet there are moments of showing his vulnerability. And he’s also fun and he’s also a little sassy. We were towards the end of auditions and Izaac Wang came in and just nailed it. I remember us looking at each other going this is it, we found him. So I was the one who went outside to talk to his mom in the kitchen area because I was so excited, and then I realized that I recognized her. She had been at our Laos ceremony just weeks before since she’s a Laos traditional dancer. So, it all came full circle. But it was a great moment to find Izaac, because he is Boun, definitely.Osnat Shurer, Producer
Thalia Tran is Noi
Noi might be just a toddler, but she’s a criminal mastermind. She’s voiced by Thalia Tran.
Thalia is amazing. She’s actually fourteen, she’s not a baby, but she’s a wonderful actress, and we gave her this not very easy challenge, which is you need to express where Little Noi’s expressing emotion. Little Noi has points of humor. She’s funny, she’s scary, she’s good, she’s bad. And Thalia somehow found this way to vocalize where you feel like you know what it is that Little Noi is saying. Thalia Tran did a good job with that.Osnat Shurer, Producer
Sandra Oh is Virana
Sandra Oh provides the voice for Namaari’s powerful mother, Virana.
Lucille Soong is Dang Hu
Dang Hu, the leader of the land of Talon, is voiced by Lucille Soong.
Patti Harrison is the Chief of the Tail Land
Ross Butler is the Chief of the Spine Land
Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Raya and the Last Dragon opens in U.S. theaters and on Disney+ with premier access on March 5th
About Raya And The Last Dragon
Long ago, in the fantasy world of Kumandra, humans and dragons lived together in harmony. But when an evil force threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, that same evil has returned and it’s up to a lone warrior, Raya, to track down the legendary last dragon to restore the fractured land and its divided people. However, along her journey, she’ll learn that it’ll take more than a dragon to save the world—it’s going to take trust and teamwork as well. From directors Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada, co-directors Paul Briggs and John Ripa, producers Osnat Shurer and Peter Del Vecho, and featuring the voices of Kelly Marie Tran as Raya and Awkwafina as the last dragon Sisu, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Raya and the Last Dragon” opens in U.S. theaters and on Disney+ with premier access on March 5th