Jonah Hauer-King is far from being a poor, unfortunate soul.
The relative newcomer, 24, scored the role of Prince Eric in upcoming live-action reimagining of The Little Mermaid opposite Halle Bailey‘s Ariel. Hauer-King will serve as the main love interest in the movie musical — a role former One Direction singer Harry Styles previously passed on.
As the undersea cast begins to fill out (Melissa McCarthy, Javier Bardem and Jacob Tremblay are all reportedly circling key roles in the film), Hauer-King’s casting marks a big-screen milestone for the actor, best known till now for his supporting work on TV.
Before he wins over Disney fans’ hearts in the updated version of the classic, get to know the man who’s about to become part of everyone’s world.
He was born and raised in London
Now holding dual citizenship in the U.K. and U.S., Hauer-King grew up in London with two older sisters. Raised by parents native to both countries — Debra Hauer, an American theater producer, and Jeremy King, a British restauranteur — the actor says he feels attached to both parts of the globe.
“Being American is definitely part of my identity,” he told Show Patrol in May 2018. “I feel in some ways very English, but I’ve also spent a lot of time in America and feel like that’s part of myself.”
Hauer-King, who graduated from Cambridge University in 2017 with a degree in theology and religious studies, points to his upbringing, outnumbered in his family by women, as a reason he comfortably works alongside — and develops lasting friendships with (more on that later) — his female costars.
“I grew up in a household with a mom and two older sisters who treated me with a lot of kindness and cruelty in equal measure,” he joked to the outlet.
And for those wondering which accent the actor possesses between his two homes, he speaks with a charming British intonation.
You may recognize him from…
Though he’ll soon be sharing the screen with creatures of the sea, Hauer-King most recently led the cast of January’s A Dog’s Way Home, where he worked with an adorable, furry costar.
“I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but she’s kind of the dream dog,” he told InqPOP of working with Shelby, the rescue dog that played Bella in the film. “She’s kind, loving and warm. It was fascinating to learn how the trainers work with her, but more than anything else, it was a joy.”
On the small screen, Hauer-King has starred in several period pieces, including a BBC retelling of Howards End and a WWII drama World on Fire.
Prior to the release of The Little Mermaid (which is scheduled to begin filming in the spring), the actor will appear in the Naomi Watts family drama Once Upon a Time in Staten Island, and the TV movie Agatha and the Curse of Ishtar.
With a number of period dramas under his belt, the actor looks forward to expanding his range in more contemporary roles.
“It’s been nice to have a lot of variety, that’s what keeps it exciting,” he told the U.K. outlet, The List.
He’s friends with many of his costars — including Maya Hawke
The young actor is perhaps best known for his performance in PBS’s Little Women from 2017, where he struck up friendships with the other young actors, including Stranger Things‘ Maya Hawke, Big Little Lies‘ Kathryn Newton and The Goldfinch‘s Willa Fitzgerald.
After production ended on Little Women, Hauer-King continued sharing photos of himself hanging out with his former cast members, as they did in return. For a birthday tribute, Hawke posted a photo with the actor captioned, “birthday 🖤 boy.”
And (of course) he can sing
An iconic role like Prince Eric obviously requires someone with vocal range — especially opposite Halle Bailey, who makes up one half of the sister singing duo Chloe x Halle. Rest assured, Hauer-King has that covered.
Aside from soundtrack credits on Little Women and Postcards from London, one archival YouTube clip shows the star covering Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” strumming a guitar for the stirring take on the song.
While he’ll definitely be able to pull of any musical responsibilities asked of him on Little Mermaid, Hauer-King is even more fitting of the nautical role, thanks to his love of water, as evidenced by several of his Instagram posts on boats, lounging poolside or posing near the ocean.