By Zach Johnson
Disney and Pixar’s animated feature Luca is sure to make a splash when it debuts on Disney+ June 18. The film introduces a charming cast of characters that includes humans, sea monsters… and sea monsters who look like humans whenever they’re out of the water! Before it becomes available to stream, get to know the characters at the heart of the story.
Voiced by Jacob Tremblay, 13-year-old sea monster Luca Paguro is curios but cautious. Although he’s been warned that the human world is a dangerous place, he can’t help but wonder what it’s like above the water. “He’s never been to the surface,” says director Enrico Casarosa. “When we meet him, he’s beginning to feel that his world is a little too small for him. He starts to follow his nose a bit, venturing farther and farther from the underwater meadow where he takes care of the goatfish. Once a rule-follower, suddenly Luca is checking out an object that fell off a boat. That’s how he meets Alberto.” Soon, fellow sea monster Alberto takes Luca under his fin, exposing him to the human world of possibilities.
Voiced by Jack Dylan Grazer, Alberto Scorfano, is a free-spirited sea monster with unbridled enthusiasm for the human world. Expressive and gregarious, he is all about having fun and seizing the moment. According to Grazer, his natural ability to portray Alberto is probably due to the fact that he’s a lot like his character. “Alberto is fearless, funny, determined, and eager to see what he’s capable of doing,” he says. “I definitely have a lot in common with him—always trying to create something new, always finding the fun.”
Newcomer Emma Berman lends her voice to Giulia Marcovaldo, a feisty adventurer. Because she only visits Portorosso, Italy, in the summertime, she hasn’t fostered many friendships. But after Luca and Alberto cross paths with the town bully—the same one who’s targeted Giulia for years—she’s the first to defend them. The trio later teams up for an annual race Giulia longs to win. “Giulia is a really awkward, quirky, goofy, and determined character,” says Berman. “I relate to her because we’re both pretty outgoing, we love to make new friends, and we like to learn new things and go on adventures.”
Luca’s loving mother, Daniela Paguro, is determined to keep her son safe. Voiced by Maya Rudolph, Daniela regularly warns Luca of the dangers beyond the sea and the “land monsters” who live there. “I’ve definitely seen my mama bear come out when necessary with my children, so that was a pretty easy element of Daniela to relate to,” says Rudolph. “When your children are pushing boundaries, you want to show them that you love them, but you’re serious. That can be an incredibly difficult balance, but one that every parent understands. Daniela has a very sweet, recurring mantra with Luca, saying, ‘You know I love you, right?’ I think that’s really important for her character because she is not embarrassed to show how strong she is and she’s not embarrassed to show how much she loves her son.”
Lorenzo Paguro is Luca’s well-meaning but sometimes distracted dad. He’s not as attuned to Luca’s growing fascination with land monsters as his wife is, but Lorenzo loves his son deeply. “From a parent’s point of view, it’s a story about giving up control—loving a child so much, you let them become who they want to become,” says Jim Gaffigan, who voices Lorenzo. Of course, Luca covers more than that, from forming friendships to finding your own path and beyond. “That’s what’s so amazing—it’ll hit different people in different ways,” Gaffigan explains. “It really captures a childlike imagination and a love of learning.”