Halle Bailey Says She Spent 13 Hour Days Shooting in Water for "The Little Mermaid"

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Halle "Pushed Herself" for "The Little Mermaid"ABC - Getty Images

Disney's given their beloved animated films the live-action treatment for a while now, and their upcoming release of The Little Mermaid will be nothing short of epic. The original Little Mermaid was actually part of Disney's Renaissance, which birthed iconic animated films like Aladdin and The Lion King (which also turned live-action in 2019). Just like Princess Ariel can't wait to swap her mermaid fin for some human legs, we’re already getting excited to see the live-action rendition of this classic come to life.

Here's everything we know about The Little Mermaid's live-action film so far.

When does The Little Mermaid come out?

The movie was originally set to come out in 2021, but due to the pandemic, production was put on hold for a while. Per Digital Spy, Disney has confirmed that the live-action version of the animated classic is hitting theaters on May 26, 2023.

On September 9, 2022, leading lady, Halle Bailey, made an appearance at Disney's D23 Expo in Burbank, California to give fans a first look at the movie's teaser trailer, which featured her performance of "Part of Your World." She also posted a clip to Instagram, where we see Ariel rocking red locs and her signature green-shifted mermaid tail.

And if the trailer wasn't enough, Halle took to social media on February 15 to share a new first look at The Little Mermaid. "I’m so very excited to continue the #Disney100 celebration with this new look at #TheLittleMermaid 🥰🧜🏽♀️just 100 days until it arrives in theaters," she wrote on Instagram.

Last fall, Halle revealed the very first poster for The Little Mermaid, a striking recreation of an iconic shot of Ariel sitting on a rock in her grotto and gazing up towards the world above (and out of) the sea. "Words can’t describe how immensely honored I feel to play the mermaid of my dreams, Ariel in Disney’s The Little Mermaid," the actress wrote. "Come under the sea with me, in theaters May 26, 2023 🧜🏽♀️"

Is there a trailer for The Little Mermaid?

Yes! The first official trailer for the upcoming live-action film made its debut at the 95th Academy Awards on March 12, 2023. Halle Bailey and Melissa McCarthy presented the trailer, where we get a glimpse at all the beloved characters for the first time. Halle also posted the full video to Instagram following the ceremony. "can’t believe we got to debut the full little mermaid trailer at the oscar’s 🥹♥️here it is ✨🧜🏽♀️," she wrote.

What is The Little Mermaid about?

The original story of The Little Mermaid follows 16-year-old Ariel, a mermaid who's fascinated with life on land. Her strict father King Triton has forbidden her to go on land in an attempt to protect her, but she goes anyway and falls for a human prince. She then makes a dangerous deal with Ursula, a sea witch who steals Ariel's voice in exchange for turning her into a human for three days. Things start to go wrong for Ariel once Ursula begins to work her evil magic. With help from her dad and sea friends, the mermaid must figure out a way to find her voice.

Who has been cast in the movie?

Halle Bailey of sister R&B music duo Chloe x Halle and Freeform's Grown-ish is set to slide into Ariel's fin as the iconic princess. Disney received tons of praise for casting a Black actress as Ariel in an attempt to be more inclusive.

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"After an extensive search, it was abundantly clear that Halle possesses that rare combination of spirit, heart, youth, innocence, and substance — plus a glorious singing voice — all intrinsic qualities necessary to play this iconic role," director Rob Marshall said in an interview with Variety.

Other A-listers will be taking their talents to the film, too. Jacob Tremblay — who starred in another Disney film, Luca — is set to play Ariel's BFF Flounder while Daveed Diggs will play Sebastian the lobster. As for Ursula, Melissa McCarthy will take on the role of the sea witch. Awkwafina is also giving new flair to Scuttle the seagull, while Javier Bardem will be King Triton under the sea.

Although Harry Styles was originally set to play Prince Eric, he declined the role to embark on a tour to support his album Fine Line. Since then, English actor Jonah Hauer King has signed on as Ariel's love interest.

Also joining the cast are Noma Dumezweni, Jessica Alexander, Russell Balogh, Adrian Christopher, and Emily Coates. According to a report by Digital Spy, their specific roles have not been publicly released yet.

And finally, Bridgerton star Simone Ashley will be joining the cast as well. The actress gushed to The Times about having "a small part in the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid." She previously alluded to working on the set of a Disney film when she learned that she was cast as Kate Sharma in Bridgerton season two in 2021.

Details about Simone's official role in the film have not been confirmed.

What has the cast said about the movie?

Halle Bailey covered the March issue of Edition by Modern Luxury, and she dished about the upcoming live-action version of The Little Mermaid during her interview. The singer and actress said she spent up to 13 hours a day filming scenes in the water for the upcoming film. "I pushed myself as far as I've ever pushed myself in life," Halle said. "And I feel like the message from her was to know that you've always had it in you."

Halle also noted that the new film is "more nuanced" than the original animated movie, which was released in 1989. "I'm really excited for my version of the film because we've definitely changed that perspective of just her wanting to leave the ocean for a boy," she told the outlet. "It's way bigger than that. It's about herself, her purpose, her freedom, her life and what she wants."

She continued, "As women, we are amazing, we are independent, we are modern, we are everything and above. And I'm glad that Disney is updating some of those themes."

At the 2023 Kid's Choice Awards on March 4, Halle teased The Little Mermaid and what it could potentially entail. The 22-year-old star said that Melissa McCarthy's transformation into Ursula the Sea Witch is "amazing" during a red carpet interview. "

"People are gonna be so amazed [by] her job [playing] Ursula," Halle told Entertainment Tonight. "First of all, she's a beautiful human being, so talented, and the way she just consumes Ursula is so beautiful. I'm just so proud of her and I can't wait for people to see it."

Will the original songs be in the movie?

If you grew up singing along to the absolute bops that are "Part of Your World," "Kiss the Girl" and "Under the Sea," you're probably wondering if these songs will make their way to the live-action version of The Little Mermaid. The short answer is: yes and no.

Leading lady Halle Bailey made an appearance at the 94th Annual Academy Awards, where she revealed her favorite song she sang for the upcoming movie. The R&B hitmaker "couldn't help but gush" about the renowned song from the 1989 animated film. "Of course, 'Part of Your World,'" she told Brandon Maxwell for the official Oscars pre-show. "Yep, that's my number one."

Award-winning actor, singer, and songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda will be teaming up with the music composer of The Little Mermaid's animated film, Alan Menken, to write new songs for the live-action version. According to ScreenRant, some of the classic songs will also be included. There are no details on which other songs will be featured yet, but we honestly can't wait to hear what Lin has been cooking as he wrote the music for Disney's Moana in 2016 and Encanto in 2022 (in this house, we absolutely talk about Bruno).

Has The Little Mermaid finished filming?

Production started in 2020 and was originally based in London, but had to be pushed back during the Coronavirus pandemic, which Halle said "caused everyone to slow down." The Little Mermaid has since started filming in Sardina, Italy. Halle and Jonah were seen filming a scene on a boat (for "Kiss the Girl," perhaps?) on a beach on June 28, 2021.

In an Instagram post, Halle revealed that filming for The Little Mermaid wrapped on July 12. "After auditioning for this film when I was 18 just about to turn 19, to now finishing filming through a pandemic when I turned 21... we have finally made it... I feel so grateful to have experienced this film in all of its glory," she said in the photo's caption.

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