The breakout star of Disney's 'Moana' was almost a totally different character

Heihei moana disneyWalt Disney Animation StudiosHeihei falls into a long trend of Disney animal ‘watchdogs.’

Disney’s “Moana” includes a colourful cast of characters, though a dumbwitted chicken stands out as maybe the most absurd animal sidekick we’ve seen from the animation studio.

Heihei follows Moana, a 16-year-old Pacific Island teen, on a journey across the ocean. It’s unclear how Moana and her featherbrained friend became acquainted, though the pair are inseparable throughout the movie.

At this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, a panel featuring the film’s cast and creators revealed that Heihei (voiced by Alan Tudyk) started out as almost an entirely different character.

“Heihei the animal went through a bit of a character evolution,” the movie’s writer Jared Bush (“Zootopia,” “Big Hero 6”) said. “He started out as kind of a jerk. Heihei had a lot of attitude.”

Moana disney

The Comic-Con audience then watched a brief animation test (not from the movie) that showed Heihei trying to steal food away from the movie’s other beloved animal sidekick, Pua. People sighed, feeling sorry for the pig.

“Over the course of many different screenings, [we learned] the character wasn’t resonating,” Bush said. “We started to change just one little thing about Heihei.”

How did Disney decide to make Heihei more likeable?

Heihei moana disney

They dropped his IQ.

Moments later, panelists showed a clip of Heihei as he appears in the movie — not-all-there. The audience giggled at a second animation test in which Heihei tries to eat a snack, but keeps missing the morsel and nose-diving into the floor. It was funny, if not ridiculous.

“Pua is the cutest Disney character, Heihei is the dumbest character,” Bush continued.

“Moana” is in theatres now, so you can see Heihei’s makeover for yourself.

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