While it is far off in the future before production even begins, the proposed live-action remake of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” the 1989 animated classic that kick-started the Disney Renaissance period, has seen quite the buzz in terms of production posse and casting announcements. Rob Marshall (“Mary Poppins Returns”) will direct a screenplay by Jane Goldman (“X-Men: First Class” and “Days of Future Past”), Jacob Tremblay and Awkwafina are part of the supporting cast while Melissa McCarthy shall be the main villainess Ursula. That leaves a question mark for the lead mermaid Ariel, until this Wednesday, when the Disney fandom just exploded in lively discussion.
That is because Disney has decided on Halle Bailey as Ariel in their “Little Mermaid” live-action film adaptation according to Variety. Halle is an R&B singer in a music duo with her sister as Chole x Halley. Her official casting was announced in a statement by Rob Marshall, saying that she has been a clear candidate to earn the role after months of the director meeting with prospective lead actresses. It will serve as Bailey’s breakout as a movie star, having already started acting in the series “Grown-ish” on Freeform.
In Marshall’s endorsement for Bailey he noted that she was full of a great combination of spirit, heart, youth, innocence and substance, all to go with her singing voice, the same qualities that could be found in the titular “Little Mermaid” Ariel, as interpreted by Disney nearly three decades ago. All that of course rather unfortunately fails to mention the fact that the original animated character design was of a light-skinned redhead with Caucasian features, in contrast to the African-American Halle, age 19. Already there has been a significant uproar on social media, with many critical commentators on the official Chloe x Halley Twitter page.
Disney’s original 1989 film “The Little Mermaid” starred the voice of Jodi Benson as Ariel, who last personally reprised the role in 2018’s “Ralph Breaks the Internet” with an online version of the character and her fellow Disney Princesses. Alan Menken, who did the music in the first movie, will return anew with songwriting help from Lin-Manuel Miranda, replacing his late collaborator Howard Ashman. Jacob Tremblay would play Ariel’s fish companion Flounder, while Awkwafina (“Crazy Rich Asians”) will portray her seagull advisor on human things, Flounder, in a gender-swapped role. April 2020 has been pegged as the start of production, with possible premiere happening 2021.
Image from Entertainment Tonight Online