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The Mouse House itself broke the news today, with director Rob Marshall saying that after an “extensive search,” Halley Bailey was selected to bring Ariel to life in the live action version of The Little Mermaid because she had that “rare combination of spirit, heart, youth, innocence, and substance,” not to mention a great singing voice. Jodi Benson voiced Ariel in the original Little Mermaid movie (a role she reprised for Ralph Breaks the Internet), and the character was also played by JoAnna Garcia in the ABC series Once Upon a Time.
While Halle Bailey is the only actor to be officially confirmed for the live action Little Mermaid so far, she’s not the only name that’s been mentioned for the project lately. Melissa McCarthy is in talks to play Ursula, the main villain, and Jacob Tremblay and Awkwafina have reportedly been cast as Ariel’s friends, Flounder and Scuttle, respectively. Spider-Man: Far From Home’s Zendaya had expressed interest in playing Ariel, Bailey will be the one to bring the character to live in a new cinematic setting.
Halle Bailey is best known for singing alongside her sister Chloe, with the duo being appropriately called Chloe x Halle. As far as acting goes, the sisters starred in 2006’s Last Holiday and currently play Jazlyn and Skylar on Freeform’s Grown-ish. The Little Mermaid will be Halley’s first time not acting alongside Chloe in a movie.
Behind the camera, along with Rob Marshall (whose credits include Chicago, Into the Woods and Mary Poppins Returns) directing and producing, John DeLuca, Marc Platt and Lin-Manuel Miranda are attached to The Little Mermaid as producers. This new adaptation will feature songs from the original that were written by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, as well as some new tunes, with Menken handling the music and Miranda handling the lyrics.
Disney has taken different approaches with its live action re-imaginings over the last several years, with some being more straightforward remakes and others taking many creative liberties. Judging by the information available so far, it sounds like The Little Mermaid will fall into the former category, with Halle Bailey’s Ariel also wanting to become a human and falling in love with Prince Eric.
Assuming Melissa McCarthy, Jacob Tremblay and Awkwafina are indeed part of this new Little Mermaid, that just leaves three important roles left to be cast: Eric, King Triton and Sebastian. Disney said that “additional announcements” regarding the project are expected in the coming weeks, so it’s a good bet we’ll know who’s making up the main cast by the end of July or August.
The Little Mermaid doesn’t have a release date yet, but production is scheduled to begin in early 2020. Keep checking back with CinemaBlend for more news on its progress, but in the meantime, browse through our 2019 release schedule to learn what movies are hitting theaters later this year.