As Disney continues to mine its back catalogue for films ripe for remaking, it seems the classic 1989 animation The Little Mermaid is next in line.
Following on from the success of the live-action remakes of The Jungle Book, Aladdin, and the upcoming Lion King, it seems the studio has already found the next in line.
It’s been announced 19-year-old Halle Bailey is to play Ariel, the mermaid princess who dreams of becoming human after falling for a prince called Eric.
Bailey, who has also appeared Grown-ish as well as performing in the R&B duo Chloe x Halle with her sister Chloe, was reportedly the ‘clear front runner’ when it came to the casting choice, despite director Rob Marshall meeting with actors over the past couple months.
In a statement to Variety, Marshall said:
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.
Bailey joins a cast which already includes Crazy Rich Asians‘ Awkwafina and Room‘s Jacob Trembley. While Melissa McCarthy is reportedly in talks to play the villainous Ursula.
The new, live-action version of The Little Mermaid is set to incorporate a number of original songs from the 1989 animated film, as well as adding new songs from Alan Menken – who composed the music for the original – and Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Miranda is also said to be producing the upcoming movie, along with director Marshall, Marc Platt and John DeLuca. While David Magee, who wrote Finding Neverland, Life of Pi and Mary Poppins Returns is penning the script.
In case you needed a reminder… Halles get it DONE. Congratulations @chloexhalle on this amazing opportunity, we can’t wait to see what you do! #TheLittleMermaid #HalleBailey pic.twitter.com/z0Rik2nxRe
— Halle Berry (@halleberry) July 3, 2019
Somewhat understandably, Halle Bailey’s casting as Ariel has made rather a lot of people confused – namely because of her name, which is Halle Bailey, not Halle Berry.
Every time I read Halle Bailey as Halle Berry pic.twitter.com/Pom5MPZzcY
— Shanakin Skywalker (@ShannonLoJones) July 4, 2019
Halle Berry is trending because none of us can read. Myself included 😂
— IGZ (@igzrap) July 4, 2019
Add me to the half of the internet who thought Halle Berry got cast as Ariel and was super confused pic.twitter.com/znmTE2zREU
— Kathryn Brightbill (@KEBrightbill) July 4, 2019
Even though I 100% know it’s Halle Bailey my brain keeps wanting to say Halle Berry pic.twitter.com/jHMm9ug6V6
— kam (@kchoppaaaa) July 4, 2019
I keep seeing people's tweets and thinking Halle Berry's been cast as a mermaid. pic.twitter.com/PQ82HSnpZl
— purserhallard (@purserhallard) July 4, 2019
I did keep reading Halle Bailey as Halle Berry so for the last 6 hours I was like okay we stan a 52 year old Ariel
— Julia Claire (@ohJuliatweets) July 4, 2019
While Halle Berry would undoubtedly make a great Ariel, it seems she’s happy for her namesake to take the role, writing on Twitter: ‘In case you needed a reminder… Halles get it DONE. Congratulations @chloexhalle on this amazing opportunity, we can’t wait to see what you do!’
The role is Bailey’s first in a feature film, having grown to prominence thanks to her time in Grown-ish and the band she’s in with her sister, Chloe x Halle. The sisters rose to fame by posting covers of Beyoncé songs on YouTube, before Bey herself signed them to her label and invited them to open for her on the Lemonade tour.
No release date for The Little Mermaid has been confirmed just yet, though production is set to commence in 2020.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.