Halle Bailey Talks How Crazy The Stunt Work To Do A Live Action Version Of The Little Mermaid Actually Was

Halle Bailey as Ariel singing Part of Your World in 2023 live-action The Little Mermaid trailer
(Image credit: Walt Disney Studios)

When The Little Mermaid, the live-action version, was announced I was very intrigued by how they were going to film the underwater scenes. It seems obvious that taking this on would be an incredible challenge for both the crew and the cast, who have to work in both real and fake water. In a recent Q and A Halle Bailey, who will be playing Ariel, addressed the physical challenges of taking on the role. 

The remake of the classic musical is one of the highly anticipated movies of 2023 and has gained lots of attention. Ever since its announcement people have talked about the casting, the music, and how it was going to be made. Creating an underwater world is no easy task and requires great physical strength, as Bailey explained in her YouTube video:

I was in intense physical training for three months and then every single day I’d either be up in the air on wires, in a harness, or I’d be in the water all day. It was super exciting but I think my body, that was the hardest thing, and it’s the most in shape I’ve ever been in my life. But that was the toughest part I think, having to be that strong.

 It sounds like she had to train like how The Avengers actors have to train to get in shape for their movies. In the same video, Bailey explained that she really didn’t film much underwater. Most of the work was done on wires in the air and with a tuning fork which allowed her to “swim in the air” simulating Ariel’s underwater world. However, she did get to do a little bit of work underwater, she said: 

The times when I would be underwater it was crazy. I was in a huge water tank and a wave machine that would go. I can’t wait until you guys actually see it so you’ll know what I’m talking about, but it felt like I was in the middle of the ocean.

No wonder it’s taken years and will take another one to finish up this movie. The filming seemed to be cool but extremely strenuous. I’d also assume that if they did a lot of the underwater work outside of the water it will take a lot of post-production work to create the underwater kingdom. 

While we have to wait until next year to see the movie, Disney did release a teaser trailer of The Little Mermaid. Bailey explained that the first time she saw herself in the movie was an “overwhelming” experience and she gets “emotional just talking about it.” This movie is a really big deal, as she is the first Black woman to play a live-action Disney princess. That plus the amount of physical work she had to put into the movie, it makes sense she’d be emotional. 

In the days since the trailer was released it’s become clear the cultural impact this movie will have. Parents filmed their Black daughters reacting to the trailer, showing how excited the kiddos were to see themselves represented. Bailey responded to the reactions by saying she was “truly in awe” of how much love she was getting from the kids. 

On the flip side, she has also received racist backlash from people who don’t think a Black woman should be playing the mermaid. But, lots of stars have come to her defense, including fellow Disney princess Rachel Zegler

Bailey had to be physically strong for the shoot and is now showing how mentally strong and resilient she is while we wait for the movie to come out. 

Riley Utley
Weekend Editor

Riley Utley is the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. She has written for national publications as well as daily and alt-weekly newspapers in Spokane, Washington, Syracuse, New York and Charleston, South Carolina. She graduated with her master’s degree in arts journalism and communications from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. Since joining the CB team she has covered numerous TV shows and movies -- including her personal favorite shows Ted Lasso and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. She also has followed and consistently written about everything from Taylor Swift to Fire Country, and she's enjoyed every second of it.