Following the major and polarizing news singer Halle Bailey will be Ariel in Disney’s next live-action remake, a “reimagining” of the undersea fairy tale The Little Mermaid, we now learn she may have found her Prince.
One Direction member Harry Styles is in early stages of negotiations to take on the role of Danish Prince Eric, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Styles’ background is right for a movie. The Hollywood Reporter and other sources believe they will place heavy emphasis on musical numbers, as Disney is wont to do whether dealing with animation or real-life actors in front of a camera.
Styles as Prince Eric
Styles made a splash two summers ago when he made his film debut in Christopher Nolan’s successful World War II-era movie, Dunkirk. He entered into talks with Disney immediately after losing out on the role of Elvis in Baz Luhrmann’s biopic about the King of Rock & Roll to Austin Butler.
Saved from drowning by Ariel, Eric became the object of her affection and her motivation for striking a bargain with Ursula to grant her legs so she can walk on land and win the Prince’s heart. In the animated feature, Prince Eric was voiced by Christopher Daniel Barnes who went on to voice Peter Parker and Spider-Man in the 1990s’ Fox Kids cartoon. Barnes returned to the Spiderverse as Electro in Disney XD’s reboot, Ultimate Spider-Man, a few years back.
If Styles gets the coveted role, he will star alongside Bailey, Awkwafina, Jacob Tremblay, Melissa McCarthy, and potentially Javier Bardem. The Little Mermaid is going to be directed by Rob Marshall (Chicago, Mary Poppins Returns) and will likely be out in late 2021.
Halle Bailey’s casting as Ariel is controversial with clear lines drawn between those for and against it. Some are upset Disney would change the character from a fair-skinned redhead to African-American while others are pushing for greater diversity and representation in cinema. That push recently touched the James Bond franchise and pulled Superman into the conversation shortly after.
A few are agonizing Disney isn’t going far enough for the sake of diversity in cinema by giving the Prince Eric part to a white male like Harry Styles. Political editor at The Root, Jason Johnson, questioned Hollywood and the media conglomerate’s commitment, writing:
“This is not some rant about interracial relationships in television and movies, but when the interracial couples only look one way, it seems like it’s more about reinforcing pre-existing racial and sexual dynamics than actual diversity.
Disney has a long unmistakable record of consistently failing to cast black women and men together as romantic leads. A black princess should have a black prince just like every other Disney princess has a prince of her own race (except Pocahontas because that’s vaguely historical).”
The Root’s Dara Sharif shares that sentiment and offered the following:
“No, the real question may be about whether Disney, and Hollywood as a whole, is truly seeing black actors, and by extension black people, as ‘every person,’ and thus capable of carrying a mainstream movie all by themselves, just as white actors do every day in all manner of ‘every person’ movie that hits the big and small screen.”
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