Before breaking out in season 3 of Stranger Things, Maya Hawke almost starred in The Little Mermaid - but not one from Disney. The daughter of actors Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman, Maya has just recently got into the acting business herself. Her first role came as Jo March in a TV adaptation of Little Women in 2017 and then starred in the small indie drama Ladyworld in 2018.
But, this has been a breakout year for Maya Hawke. She made her debut in Netflix's wildly popular series Stranger Things in the newly released third season. She plays Robin Buckley, a co-worker and eventual friend of Steve Harrington, and was one of the biggest new characters added. Shortly after being exposed to a big fanbase, many were then pleasantly surprised to see her pop up for a small role in Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. This marked her first major Hollywood movie role, but it could've come much sooner and in a starring role in The Little Mermaid.
Even though Disney is now gearing up and casting their live-action reimagining of The Little Mermaid, another version of the film was previously in development by acclaimed director Sofia Coppola. She signed on to direct a version of the classic Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale story back in 2014. As the movie started to pick up momentum, Coppola began looking for a young female star. After months of meetings, Maya Hawke was the choice to play Ariel. For more fun facts about Maya Hawke's life, check out the latest Screen Rant video featured at the top of this post.
Even though Mayaa Hawke was Sofia Coppola's choice to star in The Little Mermaid, she was met with resistance to the idea by Universal and Working Title. Coppola's version of the story would be a much darker take on the property than the family-friendly musical that Disney popularized. As a result, there was a concern by the studios that casting an unknown in the lead wouldn't be the best decision and they instead wanted a bigger name. With creative differences popping up, Coppola left The Little Mermaid in the summer of 2015 and ended the chance of Hawke leading the film.
With Coppola off the movie, Universal began retooling their Little Mermaid film. They cast Chloë Grace Moretz, who was still a rising actress but a recognizable face and name, to play the lead role. Richard Curtis was hired to rewrite the movie and Rebecca Thomas signed on to direct. Unfortunately for everyone involved, the movie never actually got off the ground. Instead of Universal getting their take on the film out first, the flurry of castings by Disney indicates that their The Little Mermaid is well on the way - while Universal's may never materialize.