Lilo & Stitch Casts Lilo for Disney's Live-Action Remake

Disney's live-action take on Lilo & Stitch has found its star. On Friday, it was confirmed (via The Hollywood Reporter) that Maia Kealoha has been cast in the lead role of Lilo Pelekai in the upcoming film. Kealoha is a newcomer to the acting space, and joins a cast that includes Zach Galifianakis in a currently-unknown role. 

The live-action Lilo & Stitch will be directed by Dean Fleischer Camp, who helmed the Oscar-nominated Marcel the Shell With Shoes On. The film has been in the works for several years now, and is expected to premiere on the Disney+ streaming service. Chris Kekaniokalani Bright wrote the script. Producers in the project will include Dan Lin and Jonathan Eirich, with Ryan Halprin executive producing.

What will the live-action Lilo & Stitch be about?

Lilo & Stitch follows the bond formed between a lonely human girl named Lilo and a dog-like alien named Stitch, who was genetically engineered to be a force of destruction. With nosy social workers and pursuing aliens banging on the door, the two bonded over a shared sense of family and win the day.

A live-action Lilo & Stitch has been reported about since 2018, leaving many fans curious to see how the unique story might be adapted into a live-action context. Previous rumors had suggested that Jon M. Chu, whose work includes In the Heights and Crazy Rich Asians, was in talks to helm the film. 

"I mean, I think it's such a gift as a filmmaker to have made a short that you know works and is like, we're making a movie adaptation to this because the shorts were so fun," Camp recently told of his work on the Marcel the Shell film. "So it's such a great tuning fork to have in your back pocket. Whenever you're like, 'Something feels wrong about this,' you can like go back to those and be like, "Oh, right. Well, that's not really in the film grammar, or Marcel would never say that or whatever."

"It's so incredibly useful to have that. And then I think it was often a case of, Jenny and I, because we had been developing this character for so long, know Marcel so well, and I know the Marcel-ian visual language so well at this point, that it becomes ... Sometimes I can't even really articulate it very well, like right now. But when you see it, you're just like, 'No, that's wrong. Obviously, that's wrong.' So I think it's a combination of that and always asking ourselves, is it documentary? Would this character really do this during a documentary? Would you actually be able to ... A lot of times the difficulty of writing this, that Nick Paley, our co-writer and I would run into, is like, it's a documentary, so how do you tell a story that is scripted and that deserves and needs big emotional moments? How would you do that if you were a documentary and you couldn't just have a character monologue by himself in a perfectly composed shot? So figuring out the language I think was important."

Are you excited about the Lilo & Stitch live-action film? What do you think of Kealoha being cast as Lilo? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!