The live-action Disney remake of 1989’s “The Little Mermaid” has net to film a single scene, busy as it is right now with casting. But already it has generated a lot of interested and a not-insignificant degree of criticism by casting African-American R&B artist Halle Bailey as the main character Ariel. While the production is weathering the social media storm of “#notmyAriel” protesters pining for the Caucasian redhead from the animated movie, they may have hit upon another casting choice that may blunt the vitriol from fans. The remake has pegged a potential Prince Eric, one that could make One Direction fans squee with joy.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Disney is now in negotiations with singer-songwriter and member of indefinite-hiatus boy band One Direction Harry Styles to play the love interest of the titular “Little Mermaid” for their live-action adaptation. If successful he will join Halle Bailey, Melissa McCarthy, Awkwafina and Jacob Tremblay in becoming part of this world, as it were. The choice of Styles for this role is a natural evolution of the Prince Eric character in all Disney iterations of the “Little Mermaid” story. Where the original Prince Eric did not have any musical numbers, he does have songs in the Broadway musical from the 2000s.
In terms of acting, Harry might not be entirely out of his element either. Fans of the singer got to see him really come into his own on the big screen back in 2017. That was the premiere of Christopher Nolan’s war drama “Dunkirk,” where Styles portrayed a British soldier driven by desperation to escape the encirclement of British and French Forces by Nazi Germany on the titular French port during World War II. While he got no individual accolades, “Dunkirk” did win several Oscars.
Prince Eric in “The Little Mermaid” is the human royal figure that Ariel falls for after she saves him from a sinking ship during a storm. He meets Ariel again after the mermaid has traded her voice to get human legs from Ursula the Sea Witch. While he is attracted to the mute Ariel, he is spurred by his vague memories of the mermaid’s singing voice when Ursula disguises also herself as a human to ensure her deal with Ariel is never fulfilled. This leads to an epic final confrontation at sea where Eric becomes instrumental to saving the day.
Prior to being tapped for “The Little Mermaid,” Harry Styles also auditioned for a planned biopic of Elvis Presley, which eventually picked Austin Butler. The Disney remake, featuring music by Alan Menken and Lin-Manuel Miranda, will begin filming in 2020, with no premiere date set.
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