Dwayne Johnson on His Nervousness About Singing a Lin-Manuel Miranda Song in ‘Moana’

Will Lerner
Superfan Movies

Dwayne Johnson was the Rock, but is he also the Rock and the Roll? That’s the question our own Kevin Polowy set out to get answered when he attended the junket for the much-anticipated Disney animated film Moana.

“You’re not a guy who lacks in confidence, but were you a little bit nervous heading into your first musical?” asked Polowy. “What’s the term?” Johnson joked. “‘Hell, yes.’”

Johnson's character, Maui (Photo: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection)
Dwayne Johnson’s character Maui. (Photo: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/courtesy of Everett Collection)

Johnson has trotted out that golden singing voice in the past, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island being an example. But this time he was performing numbers written by a man considered to many a musical genius — Lin-Manuel Miranda.

“I’ve sang in the past,” Johnson noted. “But [not] to this level, and you have a genius and a master in Lin-Manuel, who’s writing it and he writes. … His lyrics are complicated. Not the words, but how he’s putting them together. He was conducting me, and John Lasseter was there, and there’s a lot of weight behind it. It’s a Disney movie, and if you want to make a classic, and that was the goal … don’t screw it up.”

Johnson talking about Moana at the D23 EXPO in 2015. (Photo: Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)
Dwayne Johnson talking about Moana at the D23 EXPO in 2015. (Photo: Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

Miranda, for his part, totally gave Johnson props. “He was up for the challenge; he was game to do it,” the Broadway star said. “He knows that’s what comes with getting to be in that Disney animated world. He came, he knew the song cold, and then we sort of played around all day. It was really fun.”

Interestingly enough, Miranda figured out how to write Johnson’s musical number by watching his diss songs from the wrestling ring. That’s according to Moana’s directors, Ron Clements and John Musker.

“In his wrestling days, he did sing,” Clements pointed out. “Occasionally, he would be bring a guitar and diss the city he was in,” Musker added. “Lin is actually a wrestling fan, so he looked at those songs and, ‘So, OK, his range goes from here to here, so I’ll write a song from there to there.’”

Lin-Manuel Miranda on a possible Hamilton movie:

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