The director of The Little Mermaid live-action adaptation opens up about Harry Styles’ audition and why he ultimately did not take the role.
I don’t know about you, but whenever I see a new movie poster, trailer, or adorable clip of Halle Bailey in Disney World, I feel a new wave of excitement about Disney’s upcoming The Little Mermaid film. The reimagining comes over three decades since the original animation – which took us under the sea on an underwater adventure with a mermaid named Ariel.
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Disney announced early on that singer and actress Halle Bailey would play the iconic redhead. But finding Eric proved to be more of a challenge. Most of the film’s cast, except for Eric, had been announced by the summer of 2019. Then rumors about the role going to a Grammy Award-winning artist (heartthrob Harry Styles) took over the internet. Twitter had a field day when this news hit. However, the part ultimately went to rising star Jonathan Hauer-King. But what happened between July (when Harry Styles was rumored to take the role) and November (when they cast Hauer-King)?
Why Styles Went in a Darker Direction
“We met with him. He was lovely,” director Rob Marshall said of Styles to EW. “What a wonderful guy. But at the end of the day, he really felt like he wanted to go off and do the movies that he ended up doing, which were sort of darker.
“For a lot of young musical people like Harry, you’re trying to carve your way and you don’t wanna be seen as a singer, necessarily,” Marshall continued. “That’s why he was really looking to do something not in the musical genre, to really stretch himself. It was really a fun idea to play with, but in the end, I always think things happen for a reason. I’m so happy to have two young, new people in the film.”
Styles made his acting debut in 2017 in the Christopher Nolan-directed war film, Dunkirk. He then went on to star in two new films released in 2022. Michael Grandage’s My Policeman had Styles playing a gay police officer who falls for a museum curator in 1950s Brighten. He then starred in the thrilling drama Don’t Worry Darling as the charming but demented husband to Florence Pugh’s Alice.
While we regrettably will not be seeing Styles sing on a sail boat anytime soon, the cast of The Little Mermaid film will no doubt have us dreaming of being part of that world. Bailey and Hauer-King will star alongside Daveed Diggs, Jacob Tremblay, Awkwafina, and Melissa McCarthy.