We are now a month away from seeing our first look at Halle Bailey in Disney’s live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid. Bailey recently spoke with Variety about the project.
Bailey landed the coveted role of Ariel three years ago, and while a massive amount of fans were excited, there was a good amount of trolls who were just as vocal. The hashtag #NotMyAriel started circulating and for Bailey it stung but it was her grandparents that shared some wisdom to her. “It was an inspiring and beautiful thing to hear their words of encouragement, telling me, ‘You don’t understand what this is doing for us, for our community, for all the little Black and brown girls who are going to see themselves in you,” Bailey recalls.
Bailey also thought about what it would have meant to her to see Ariel as a person of color as a child “What that would have done for me, how that would have changed my confidence, my belief in myself, everything, Things that seem so small to everyone else, it’s so big to us.”
Halle Bailey auditioned for the role at 18 and got the part at 21. Director Rob Marshall (Mary Poppins Returns) spotted the young talent on the 2019 Grammy telecast as Chloe x Halle performed “Where Is the Love?” Marshall was in love with Bailey’s voice and made her audition for the role by singing the iconic song “Part of Your World”. “When she finished, I was in tears because she’s so soulful, You could tell right away that she was able to harness Ariel’s passion, her fire, her soul, her joy and her heart” Marshall says.
While Disney is keeping her look as Ariel under wraps until the D23 Expo, Bailey’s family did get to see her transformation into the Disney princess and her sister even cried. Marshall also teased her look, which will include the iconic red hair. “She looks stunning in red hair; not everybody does.”
Production on The Little Mermaid was long and challenging. Bailey worked on massive technical rigs with wires that would have her move as a mermaid under the sea, mimicking Ariel’s various movements. Her singing talents inspired Marshall and composers Alan Menken and Lin-Manuel Miranda to write new songs for the character to pair with the classics we all know and love. Marshall adds during production when Bailey sang “Part of Your World” again that it was the most spine-tingling moment of filming. “[Halle] sings that moment up an octave from the original, It’s the most chilling, and the most thrilling, film moment because it crystallizes not just her incredible vocal ability but the emotional passion she has in singing it.”
Hitting theaters on May 26, 2023, The Little Mermaid also stars Jonah Hauer-King (A Dog’s Way Home) as Prince Eric, Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) as Ursula, Awkwafina (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings) as Scuttle, Jacob Tremblay (Wonder) as Flounder and Daveed Diggs (Snowpiercer) as Sebastian. Also set to star is Emily Coates, Jessica Alexander, Jude Akuwudike, Noma Dumezweni, Russell Balogh, and Adrian Christopher.