Disney's live-action The Little Mermaid remake has cast Jonah Hauer-King to play Prince Eric opposite Halle Bailey as the mermaid princess Ariel. The role was offered to Harry Styles over the summer, but he passed in order to focus on his music career instead. Hauer-King's name entered the conversation to play Eric back in September, when both he and Krypton actor Cameron Cuffe auditioned for The Little Mermaid. Now, following a second screen test, Hauer-King has secured the role.
The Little Mermaid is one of several live-action remakes Disney currently has in the pipeline, following their box office success with similar re-imaginings of The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King (among others). Disney's original animated movie (an adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen story) hit theaters in 1989, helping to usher in what became known as the Disney Animation Renaissance of the '90s. The live-action version is being directed by Rob Marshall, who most recently helmed the Mouse House's musical sequel, Mary Poppins Returns.
According to Variety, Hauer-King is now set to play Prince Eric in the live-action Little Mermaid, following his most recent screen test with Marshall in London on November 9. Bailey will star as Ariel, the red-haired mermaid whose fascination with and desire to be part of the human world only grows stronger after she saves Eric from drowning during a dangerous sea storm.
Hauer-King is a relative newcomer, having previously starred in the 2017 Little Women TV miniseries (where he played Laurie Laurence) and this year's family adventure A Dog's Way Home. He joins Bailey in a cast that includes bigger names like Melissa McCarthy as the sea witch Ursula, Javier Bardem as Ariel's father King Triton, Awkwafina and Jacob Tremblay as the voices of Ariel's friends Scuttle the seagull and Flounder the fish, and Hamilton veteran Daveed Diggs as the voice of Triton's crab advisor, Sebastian. And speaking of Hamilton: Alan Menken, who composed the animated Little Mermaid, is working on new songs for the live-action version with lyrics by Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Recently, Disney's live-action remakes have become known for following a formula that includes adding a fresh song or two to the animated movie and removing the unflattering parts of the original film in order to make the story more palatable for modern audiences (or, as some have put it, "woke"). This has led to criticisms that most of these re-imaginings are little more than rehashes of Disney's older movies with a fresh coat of paint added, but without the screen magic that made them classics. Disney CCO Alan Horn responded to these critiques last month, saying the studio knows its reboots are a "finite universe" and plans to begin moving away from straightforward remakes in the future. Whether that includes The Little Mermaid, though, remains to be seen.
The Little Mermaid doesn't have a release date yet, but is expected to begin production in early 2020.