If you need someone to play a prince so dashing that a teenage girl might be willing to sell her soul to dance with him, it’s easy to see why you’d think of Harry Styles. The former One Direction front man is in early talks, according to Variety, to play Prince Eric in The Little Mermaid remake. This bit of news follows the major internet-breaking revelation that Halle Bailey was cast as Ariel, the aquatic princess with a song in her heart.
Styles is best known for his musical bonafides, including as a solo artist, however he has proven himself on screen already, memorably appearing in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk in 2017. If cast, The Little Mermaid will be his first major acting role since that movie. Prince Eric is of course the fresh faced young hero who, at least in the 1989 original movie, was a lad in his early 20s who is reluctantly in search of a wife due to the pressures of his grandfather. Fortunately for him though, he catches the eye of Ariel, a young mermaid who already is fascinated with life up on the surface. Upon falling hard for the Danish lad, she also is able to save him once a storm capsizes his ship and he nearly drowns. When he wakes up the next day and sees Ariel singing above him, he is likewise immediately smitten… if oblivious from the knowledge that his intended is half-fish.
(Also fun fact: In the original movie, Prince Eric is voiced by Christopher Barnes who would go on to become the definitive Peter Parker voice for many a millennial after playing the character for five seasons on Spider-Man: The Animated Series).
There is a lot of attention riding on Disney’s The Little Mermaid remake, and not just because it cast a woman of color in the role of one of their lily-white princesses (also notably their only redheaded one). Further The Little Mermaid is the last “classic” of the Disney Renaissance that has yet to make the jump to live-action. Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King have all done so. And while critical receptions for all three have been at least somewhat mixed, they’ve also been (or are poised to be) major box office phenomena. Since The Little Mermaid is the Disney movie that set the Renaissance era in motion—and thus all the money Disney is making off it right now—there will be possibly higher expectations to get it right.
For this reason, Disney is turning to well-regarded and familiar hands, including Oscar nominee Rob Marshall as director (Chicago, plus Disney’s recent Into the Woods and Mary Poppins Returns), as well as Tony winner Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton, Moana) who is co-writing new songs for the remake alongside Alan Menken. Howard Ashman, the original co-songwriter who was the creative spark behind much of the beloved ’89 movie, sadly passed away in 1991. Melissa McCarthy has also been cast as the villain Ursula.
The Little Mermaid is scheduled to begin production early next year.