Halle Bailey will play the iconic sea princess Ariel in Disney’s upcoming live-action version of “The Little Mermaid.”
Rob Marshall is set to direct the film, and said of their casting choice:
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.
The young star made her onscreen debut in the Queen Latifah comedy “Last Holiday” at age 6. She currently stars as Sky Forster on the Freeform series, “Grown-ish.” The actress also has a strong music background, and co-wrote a song for last year’s “A Wrinkle in Time.”
The animated version of “The Little Mermaid” hit theaters in 1989 and ushered in a new era for Disney animation. Alan Menken and Howard Ashman won the Oscar for Best Original Song, and Menken also took the prize for Original Score. The new film will use their original songs, as well as new music from Menken and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Earlier this week, the production began to take shape when Disney announced that two-time Academy Award nominee Melissa McCarthy would be playing the evil sea witch, Ursula. Awkwafina is set to play the delightfully confused seagull, Scuttle. And young Jacob Tremblay will take on the role of Ariel’s best friend, Flounder.
Rob Marshall directed the Academy Award-winning “Chicago” in 2002. This will be his fourth film with Disney, after “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” and the live-action musicals, “Into the Woods” and “Mary Poppins Returns.”
While the film is being called a live-action reimagining, it remains to be seen how much will be CGI and how much will be truly live-action. It will likely be a hybrid, something along the lines of Disney’s “The Jungle Book.”
There will be more casting announcements coming soon. “The Little Mermaid” is scheduled to begin filming in early 2020.