The Little Mermaid star Halle Bailey opens up about why she was shocked when she was cast as Ariel. Following Disney’s other live-action adaptations like The Lion King and Mulan, the Mouse House is turning its sights on another animated classic. Set to premiere in May 2023, The Little Mermaid will offer a live-action spin on the beloved 1989 film. Bailey stars as Ariel, the young mermaid who dreams of life up on land among the humans. The star-studded cast also includes Javier Bardem, Awkwafina, Jacob Tremblay, Daveed Diggs, Jonah Hauer-King, and Melissa McCarthy, who plays evil sea witch Ursula.
The Little Mermaid has been in development since 2016, but only kicked off filming in 2020. It was disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic for some time before picking up again in 2021. Unlike Mulan, The Little Mermaid will remain a musical; in fact, original composer Alan Menken has partnered with Lin-Manuel Miranda to write 4 new songs for the film. Beyond that, it remains to be seen how much The Little Mermaid will deviate from the animated original.
There’s already a lot of buzz surrounding Bailey’s performance as Ariel, though the actress herself was just surprised to get the part at all. Appearing on Talks with Mama Tina (via Entertainment Tonight), Bailey opened up about her initial reaction to being cast as Ariel. She admitted that, because of the picture she had of Ariel in her head, she never imagined she would be called in to audition. Bailey said:
“Getting that role felt very surreal. It was much of a shocker for me. Even when I was asked to audition, I looked at it and I was like, ‘Me? For Ariel?’ My image of Ariel that I’ve had is the red hair, the pale skin and the tail, and she was amazing to me. I loved her, like we all did. But that’s what I’ve seen her as for so long.”
When Bailey was first cast in The Little Mermaid back in 2019, there was some backlash from racist voices online who took issue with a Black actress being hired to play Ariel. Thankfully, those pointless arguments have since been drowned out by general excitement over seeing the grown-ish star play the beloved Disney princess. Bailey has proven she has the singing chops to play Ariel, and various Little Mermaid set photos have hinted she’ll inhabit the role well. She might’ve been shocked she was asked to audition, but those familiar with the rising star aren’t surprised at all.
As The Little Mermaid isn’t set to debut until next year, it might still be some time before official images emerge. Baily shared an early peek at her Ariel last July, but since then fans have only gotten a tease here and there from those associated with the film. Disney has a good number of live-action remakes in development, but The Little Mermaid just might be one of the most anticipated. Bailey has promised the movie will be well worth the wait, so for now, we’ll take her at her word and be patient.
More: The Little Mermaid’s Underwater World Needs To Avoid Lion King’s CGI Realism
Source: Talks with Mama Tina (via Entertainment Tonight)
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