‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ Directors Compare Awkwafina To Robin Williams

The Genie and the Last Dragon are surprisingly alike.


The directors behind Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon compared Awkwafina’s improvisational skills in the upcoming film to the late Robin Williams.

With Raya and the Last Dragon heading to theaters and Disney Plus in March, the directors behind the film recently revealed in a roundtable interview that Awkwafina’s performance in the animated adventure is somewhat similar to Robin Williams’ role as the Genie in Aladdin. Co-director Carlos Lopez Estrada praised the Shang-Chi star for her improvisational skills, saying that it was exciting to see her bring Sisu to life while working on Raya and the Last Dragon.

“She improvised so many of the scenes. She would come up with different takes on jokes, or would just say, “Let me just try a few more.” It really shows. We worked on the character thinking of her, but it was not until she stepped in that booth that she really brought her to life in a way that was really exciting to watch.”

During the interview, one journalist noted that Awkwafina’s comedic performance was similar to Robin Williams’ Genie in Aladdin, and co-director Don Hall agreed with that. Hall explained that in the same way the Genie was specifically written for Robin Williams, Sisu the dragon was written with Awkwafina in mind. The director also noted that he “can’t imagine” anyone else playing her role in Raya and the Last Dragon.

“I think the Robin Williams comparison is not a bad one, actually. It’s hard to imagine another actor performing the role of the Genie in the original “Aladdin.” It was sort of tailor-made for Robin Williams’ specific gifts. I feel like we did the same thing with Sisu. Sisu was written with Awkwafina in mind, and I can’t imagine somebody else as Sisu. Awkwafina is Sisu. Sisu is Awkwafina.”

Are you excited to see Awkwafina as Sisu in Raya and the Last Dragon? What did you think to the first trailer? Sound-off in the comments below!

Here is the official synopsis for Raya and the Last Dragon:

Long ago, in the fantasy world of Kumandra, humans and dragons lived together in harmony. However, when sinister monsters known as the Druun threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, those same monsters have returned, and it’s up to a lone warrior to track down the last dragon and stop the Druun for good.

Directed by Carlos Lopez Estrada and Don Hall, the film stars Kelly Marie Tran, Awkwafina, Gemmah Chan, Daniel Dae Kim, Sandra Oh, Benedict Wong, Izaac Wang, Thalia Tran, Alan Tudyk, Lucille Soong, Patti Harrison and Ross Butler. The film arrives in theaters and on Disney Plus on March 5th, 2021. Stay tuned for all the latest news on Raya and the Last Dragon and be sure to subscribe to Heroic Hollywood’s YouTube channel for more original video content.

Eammon Jacobs

Eammon Jacobs

English writer with a preference for all things Film, TV and Comic Book related.

January 26, 2021
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