Halle Bailey Shares First Look At Herself As Ariel In 'The Little Mermaid' Remake

Photo credit: Kevin Winter - Getty Images
Photo credit: Kevin Winter - Getty Images

We've had Emma Watson inject some 21st century into Beauty and the Beast, Emily Blunt put her own spin on Mary Poppins, in 2019 we heard the soulful notes of Beyoncé as she lent her famous vocals to Nala in the remake of The Lion King and earlier this year Emma Stone presented the back-story to 101 Dalmatians villainess Cruella De Vil.

Disney films have been remerging in full force thanks to the omnipresent trend of '90s nostalgia coupled with the need to update some of our childhood favourites.

The numerous remakes serve to modernise and bring a beloved film into the present while also appealing to the masses with top notch casting and an even bigger production (and budget).

So, imagine our glee when also confirmed for a remake was The Little Mermaid, with an incredible cast full of recognisable faces and exciting emerging new talent.

Photo credit: Disney
Photo credit: Disney

Here's everything we know about the upcoming movie...

Who is playing Ariel in the new Little Mermaid film?

In July 2019, it was announced that Grownish star Halle Bailey would take on the role of the mermaid princess.

If you haven't seen the sitcom (which also stars former ELLE cover star Yara Shahidi) you will also likely know Halle as one half of the Beyoncé-discovered singing duo Chloe X Halle (Chloe being her sister).

Photo credit: Neilson Barnard - Getty Images
Photo credit: Neilson Barnard - Getty Images

The group started off singing covers on YouTube before catching the attention of Queen Bey. They've essentially become her proteges, signed to Bey's Parkwood record label, made cameos in her Lemonade visual album and supported both the Formation tour and the Beyoncé and Jay-Z On the Run II Tour. Last year, their single 'Do It' became the first for the group to enter the Billboard 100 charts.

The film's director told Variety that Halle was chosen for the part 'after an extensive search'.

'It was abundantly clear that Halle possesses that rare combination of spirit, heart, youth, innocence and substance - plus a glorious singing voice - all intrinsic qualities necessary to play this iconic role.'

After Halle Bailey was announced as Ariel, among the praise and excitement there was some racist backlash ignorantly aimed at the fact that, in the original cartoon, Ariel (who, let's reiterate, is a cartoon and not real) was white.

Bailey has addressed this for the first time while speaking to Variety: 'I feel like I'm dreaming, I'm just grateful. I don't pay attention to the negativity, this

role was something bigger than me and greater. It's going to be beautiful, I'm so excited to be a part of it.'

In July 2021, Bailey confirmed that she had wrapped shooting the film in Sardinia, Italy and shared the first-look picture of herself as Ariel with an extensive caption detailing her journey to being a Disney princess.

'After auditioning for this film when i was 18 just about to turn 19 , to now finishing filming through a pandemic when i turned 21 ..we have finally made it,' the star wrote.

'It has been the toughest experience being away from everything and everyone I’ve ever known, to feeling self doubt/loneliness, but also feeling such freedom and perseverance as I’ve reached the end. This experience has made me so much stronger than I ever thought I could be.'

We can't wait to see Halle as Ariel.

Who is playing Prince Eric in The Little Mermaid?

A week or so after Bailey had been cast, rumours began swirling that the singer might have found her prince in none other than Harry Styles.

Photo credit: Matt Winkelmeyer/MG19 - Getty Images
Photo credit: Matt Winkelmeyer/MG19 - Getty Images

According to Variety, the former One Direction singer was in 'early negotiations' with Disney to take on the lead male role of Prince Eric in the upcoming film which led to some brief hysteria on Twitter:

However, while appearing on the cover of the relaunched magazine The Face, Styles clarified the rumours and confirmed he would not be taking on the role.

'It was discussed,' he told the magazine before the writer notes that he 'swiftly' changes the subject.

'I want to put music out and focus on that for a while,' he continued. 'But everyone involved in it was amazing so I think it's going to be great. I'll enjoy watching it, I'm sure.'

Eventually, the franchise cast Prince Eric, announcing that the role would be played by Jonah Hauer-King.

Photo credit: Andrew Toth - Getty Images
Photo credit: Andrew Toth - Getty Images

The British actor has previously starred in the TV adaptations of Howards End and Little Women - where he played Laurie - as well as films like The Last Photograph and The Song of Names.

In Bailey's post marking the wrap of the movie, the singer referred to her on-screen love interest as someone who 'will be my friend for infinite lifetimes'.

Who is playing Ursula in The Little Mermaid?

Melissa McCarthy will play the part of Ursula, the sea witch who wreaks havoc on the 'poor unfortunate souls'.

However, confirming this was not straightforward either. During an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live in July, 2019 when the rumour mill was abuzz with casting rumours, the Bridesmaids actress was asked outright about the potential part, which resulted in a wonderfully coy response.

'I hadn't heard about that,' she teased. 'I'd love it if Disney gave me a little ringy dingy, we'll see.' She finished her faux-shocked response by giving the camera an Ursula-worthy dramatised wink.

Photo credit: Steve Granitz - Getty Images
Photo credit: Steve Granitz - Getty Images

After the initial rumours of McCarthy's casting, there were debates online as to whether the Oscar-nominated actor should play the part, with some suggesting that the role should go to Lizzo - who dressed up as the sea witch for Halloween and shared videos of herself singing Ursula's songs and then directly bid for the role to Disney.

Following the Variety report about McCarthy potentially nabbing the role, Lizzo even responded to them with a sad face emoji on Twitter.

Who else has been cast in The Little Mermaid?

Other confirmed cast members include Ocean's 8 star Awkwafina who will play seagull Scuttle and Room's Jacob Tremblay who will be the fish Flounder. The star-studded cast doesn't end there as Javier Bardem takes on the role of King Triton and Hamilton and Black-Ish star Daveed Diggs will play Sebastian the crab.

Is the new Little Mermaid film going to be a cartoon?

No, the new film is live-action and CGI. Which is So. Exciting.

Will it be an exact remake of the film?

The original film of the mermaid Ariel who wishes to become human after falling in love with Prince Eric was released in 1989, so it's likely there will be some updates. The movie is being co-produced by Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, who no doubt will put his spin on the revamp in some way.

For those hoping that classics like 'Under The Sea' will remain firmly on the old track, Variety reports that there will be original songs as well as new music from Miranda and the original composer Alan Menken.

When will the Little Mermaid arrive in cinemas?

The film has now wrapped on production... so expect another update in a few months time...

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