With every new Pixar animated feature comes the chance to enjoy the bevy of notable voices who lend personality to the cartoon creatures on screen. In the studio's latest film, Luca, dropping this week on Disney+, the title character is a sea creature who gets the opportunity for adventure above the sea when he makes friends with Alberto, a fellow sea creature who shows him how to pass as human. Disguised as kids, the two finned pals take in scenic Italy, where they encounter local Italians, run afoul of a bully, and try to evade Luca's worried parents. But whose voices are behind those animated faces? A guide:
Jacob Tremblay is best known for playing Jack, the young boy born into captivity who ultimately escapes in the 2015 award-winning film Room. Tremblay's co-star, Brie Larson, won an Oscar for playing his mom, and Tremblay was on the campaign trail with her all that year, where he became a darling of awards season. Since then, he's played the son to a string of A-List actresses; starring opposite Julia Roberts in Wonder, playing the younger son of Naomi Watts's character in the notorious The Book of Henry, and Natalie Portman's son in The Death and Life of John F. Donovan. Tremblay also played an endangered child in Doctor Sleep and a sixth-grader up to some rude adventures in Good Boys. He plays the title character in Luca, a 13-year-old boy who is actually a 13-year-old sea creature posing as a boy so that he can experience life in an idyllic Italian seaside town.
Alberto is Luca's best friend and another teen sea monster posing as a human boy. It's his free-spirited enthusiasm about the world outside the sea that leads the two to embark on their land-based adventure. He's voiced by Jack Dylan Grazer, whose first big role came in the first part of the Stephen King horror adaptation It in 2017. The next year he played the younger version of Timothée Chalamet's character in Beautiful Boy, and then in 2019 he reprised his role as the young Eddie Kaspbrak in It, Chapter Two and also played the best friend (and best character) in Shazam!. On TV, Grazer played the lead role in director Luca Guadagnino's HBO series We Are Who We Are.
Emma Berman plays Giulia, a local Italian girl who befriends Luca and Alberto while riding around on her scooter. She's all about action and adventure, making her a great fit with the boys as they explore the human world. Luca is the twelve year-old Berman's first screen role.
Italian actor Marco Barricelli is probably best known for his guest performance on the short-lived NBC seriesThe Book of Daniel. In Luca, he voices Giulia's burly, intimidating father, Massimo. He proves to be doubly intimidating to young Luca and Alberto considering he's a fisherman and and cook and they are the kind of sea creatures who might well end up in Massimo's net.
The great Maya Rudolph came to fame as a cast member on Saturday Night Live, where she played a host of comedic roles. She recently voiced the mom in The Mitchells vs. the Machines, co-starred with a bunch of her SNL alumna pals in Wine Country, got an Emmy nomination for The Good Place, and continues to voice the Hormone Monstress on Netflix's Big Mouth. In Luca, she provides the voice of Daniela, Luca's very protective mother, who warns him to never venture above the surface of the sea.
Jim Gaffigan voices Luca's sea-creature dad Lorenzo, who's described as a "well-meaning, but sometimes distracted dad who's very passionate about raising his prize-winning crabs." Gaffigan is best known for his stand-up comedy, through which he's redefined the Hot Pocket in popular culture. His acting roles include 17 Again, Away We Go (opposite his Luca wife Maya Rudolph), and Going the Distance. He also voices Abraham Van Helsing in the Hotel Transylvania movies.
Saveiro Raimondo is an Italian actor making his English-language debut in Luca as Ercole Visconti, the antagonist to Luca and Alberto. Visconti is a preening bully who everybody in town is afraid of and who prizes his precious Vespa scooter above all.
Character actress Sandy Martin is probably best known for playing Mac's mom on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. She's also appeared on the TV series Ray Donovan, Playing House, and Big Love, as well as films like Napoleon Dynamite and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. She plays the title character's grandmother in Luca, who indulges her grandson's more rebellious side.
In what must have been quite a stretch, actor Giacomo Gianniotti voices a character named … Giacomo, a local fisherman in the town where Luca and Alberto emerge from the sea. Gianniotti was born in Italy, raised in Ontario, and came to fame as Dr. Andrew DeLuca on Grey's Anatomy. He played the role of DeLuca from 2015 until 2021 when — look away if you don't want to know what happened on Grey's Anatomy this year — he was murdered by a child trafficker he was trying to apprehend.
Playing Luca's deep ocean dwelling Uncle Ugo is nome other than Sacha Baron Cohen. Having made a name for himself inhabiting off-kilter comedy characters like Ali G and Borat, Baron Cohen has begun taking on more serious film roles in recent years. Luca arrives at what's arguably the apex of his career, following his dual Academy Award nominations this year for his supporting role in The Trial of the Chicago 7 and his screenplay for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.
Luca drops on Disney+ Friday June 18, 2021.
Joe Reid is the Managing Editor at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.