Disney has seen massive success from remaking its popular animated film catalog and considering that some of the most popular remakes have come from the Disney Renaissance, it's far from shocking that the one that started it all is scheduled for the full musical remake treatment. For a long time, The Little Mermaid was only one of several Disney remakes that was reported to be in development, but we knew little about the actual plan. However, now casting is underway for the project, signaling that this will be one of the next remakes we will see.
The Little Mermaid has been putting together an impressive cast of actors to bring the animated ones to life. Here's a rundown of everybody currently confirmed or rumored to be on board.
Halle Bailey - Ariel
Ariel spends most of her screen time in the animated film mute, so to play the lead role you need somebody capable of real screen presence. The producers think they found their star in Halle Bailey. She a double threat as an actress and singer as half of the musical duo Chloe x Halle and an actor on ABC's Grown-ish. This will be Bailey's biggest screen role to date, and considering the popularity of Ariel to Disney fans, the pressure is almost certainly on. Still, she can act and she can sing, and that's what ultimately matters.
Jacob Tremblay - Flounder
A good Disney movie needs a solid sidekiik and few are more reliable in Disney history than Ariel's little fish pal Flounder. Taking that role is reportedly to be Jacob Tremblay. The very young actor is showing significant range between his breakout role in the Oscar nominated Room and the forthcoming raunchy comedy Good Boys, so it seems likely he can handle the exuberant fish. One assumes that Flounder and the other animal characters will be brought to life using the same photo-realistic technology of the new Lion King, though this will be the first time we seen it used on sea creatures.
Awkwafina - Scuttle
Probably the most exciting casting decision is the word that actress and rapper Awkwafina is in talks to voice Ariel's aerial friend Scuttle. The seagull was voiced by Buddy Hackett in the animated original and I'm not sure you can possibly go further afield from Buddy Hackett than Awkwafina. It means a pretty significant change in the character between the two versions and while these Disney remakes have been sticking pretty close to their source material, something fresh and different is always welcome. A rapping seagull with a confused view of how humans work? Sounds fantastic.
Melissa McCarthy - Ursula
A good Disney princess movie is only as good as its villain and The Little Mermaid's Ursula is one of the best. She's got one of the most showstopping villain songs in the history of Disney and an amazing presence on the screen. Melissa McCarthy will reportedly be the one trying to replicate that in real life. McCarthy is certainly capable of commanding attention, but she's never had a role quite like this one, it will be interesting to see what happens. McCarthy isn't known for her singing but she's occasionally shown she's capable of it. If she can belt out "Pour, Unfortunate Souls" with the same power and style as Pat Carroll did in the original, this is going to be great.
Javier Bardem - King Triton
The most recent piece of casting news regarding the new The Little Mermaid is that Ariel's father King Triton may have been found in Javier Bardem. It's another major name attached to the remake, which is fairly standard for the Disney remake machine. This will be Bardem's second major role with Disney following his turn as the villain in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. Triton is, in many ways, the catalyst for the events of the film, making this role key to the story. If the new remake takes some cues from the Broadway version of The Little Mermaid, this role will only be more important.
Harry Styles - Prince Eric
Finally, we have Ariel's object of desire, Prince Eric. As with most Disney princess movies, Eric isn't all that much of a character in the animated original, though he does get a bit more to do than many of his counterparts. The word on the street is that Former Dunkirk actor and One Direction performer Harry Styles is in talks to play Eric. Considering that Styles is known more for singing than acting one wonders if those skills will be put to the test. Eric never sings in the animated original, so this could signal another potential change in the story. We know that Alan Menken and Lin-Manuel Miranda are working on some new music for the film. Perhaps one of them is for Prince Eric.
While this is a solid cast if everybody comes through, there are still a couple of key roles left to fill. We need a Sebastian. The musical crab fronts two key songs in the original movie and is one of the more popular characters thanks to his laid back Jamaican accent. In addition, rumors have indicated that the new Little Mermaid will include Ariel's mother, a role that didn't exist in the first film, but one that will be important to this remake.
This means it's also possible that there could be other important roles yet to be cast that we don't know about if those characters are new to the story or if characters we know from the original film are being given expanded roles. Perhaps there's always the chance that fans' demands will be met and Gordon Ramsey will be cast as Chef Louis. Does anybody know if he can sing?
With the rest of the cast in negotiations, we'll likely hear about these other roles very soon. The Little Mermaid remake doesn't have a release date yet, and we don't know when it plans to go into production, but expect that to happen sooner rather than later, with a release date in early 2021 probably likely.