The live-action Dora the Explorer movie may be wrapping production soon but Collider has learned of a major casting change, as Jeffrey Wahlberg, the nephew of Mark Wahlberg and Donnie Wahlberg, has replaced Micke Moreno as Dora’s cousin Diego.
In an exclusive statement to Collider, a Paramount spokesperson confirmed Moreno’s exit, saying “Micke left the production for personal reasons.” A representative for Moreno did not respond to a request for comment. While several Australian publications have reported on Moreno’s exit, the news had yet to reach Dora fans in the U.S. or database websites such as IMDb.
Isabela Moner (Sicario: Day of the Soldado) will star as the titular teen, who heads out on an adventure with her best friend, Boots the monkey, and her cousin Diego. Moner is no stranger to working with Wahlbergs, having starred alongside Mark Wahlberg in Transformers: The Last Knight and Instant Family, the latter of which hits theaters on Friday and may be the most pleasant surprise of the year.
As for Dora the Explorer, director James Bobin (Alice Through the Looking Glass) has assembled a cast of diverse superstars such as Eugenio Derbez, Eva Longoria and Michael Peña, as well as Adriana Barraza, Temuera Morrison and Q’orianka Kilcher. Longoria and Peña will play Dora’s parents, while Barraza will play Dora’s grandmother and Derbez will play a roguish explorer named Alejandro Gutierrez.
Nicholas Stoller and Danielle Sanchez-Witzel wrote the script, and Walden Media is co-financing and co-producing the film with Paramount, which is slated to release Dora the Explorer on Aug. 2, 2019. The film will face stiff box office competition on that date, as Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham‘s untitled Fast and Furious spinoff will hit theaters that day along with Fox’s New Mutants, though Dora obviously appeals to a much younger audience than those movies.
Dora the Explorer is based on the popular Nickelodeon children’s show, and Paramount Players has a mandate to leverage Viacom-owned properties for the big screen treatment. The studio is also developing a feature adaptation of the beloved Nick series Are You Afraid of the Dark?
The character of Diego is an important one within the Dora the Explorer universe, having received his own animated TV spinoff Go, Diego, Go! on Nickelodeon. Wahlberg, who is half-Dominican, was always a favorite for the role of Diego, so when Moreno had to leave the project in a hurry, Paramount was quick to reach out to the young actor.
Like his uncle Mark before him, Wahlberg is a Calvin Klein model who recently co-starred in the indie action movie Future World, co-directed by James Franco, who also stars. The 22-year-old Boston native has spent the past several years paying his dues in the industry, honing his chops in short films and taking on small roles on TV shows like HBO’s Ballers and Starz’s Counterpart. Wahlberg is also slated to star in the indie drama Reefa, a true story about a young artist named Israel “Reefa” Hernandez who was reportedly killed by police officers for spray painting an abandoned building. The role of Diego is a major coup for Wahlberg, who is represented by Innovative Artists, Leverage Management and attorney Jonathan Sauer.