[Article] How THE LITTLE MERMAID Has Evolved

[Article] How THE LITTLE MERMAID Has Evolved

After a long wait, audiences will finally get a chance to see Disney’s highly anticipated live-action film THE LITTLE MERMAID. Director Rob Marshall and writer David Magee are bringing us a thoughtful reimagining of the classic Disney movie for a more modern and diverse audience. The story remains the same; a young mermaid wants to explore the world above the ocean, she falls in love with a prince and makes a deal with a sea witch to give her legs in exchange for her voice.

Recently, Nightmarish Conjurings joined Disney for a virtual press conference for THE LITTLE MERMAID. ET’s Nischelle Turner moderated, accompanied by the cast which included; Halle Bailey (“Ariel”), Melissa McCarthy (“Ursula”), Javier Bardem (“King Triton”), Daveed Diggs (“Sebastian”), Awkwafina (“Scuttle”), Jacob Tremblay (“Flounder”), Jonah Hauer-King (“Prince Eric”), and Noma Dumezweni (“Queen Selina”).

How Covid changed the process

Jacob Tremblay BTS of Little Mermaid l Photo by Giles Keyte/Disney

A common sentiment over the course of the press conference was how different the filming process was during the course of the pandemic. Rather than rehearsing together in different locations, Jacob Tremblay mentioned what it was like to be able to record together in one room: “I preferred it so much better than [just] being in a booth and especially ’cause of covid. It would usually be on Zoom, but it was definitely a privilege that we all got to be together and we got to do our scenes together.”

Awkwafina echoed this sentiment, stating that the sessions recorded together were the most successful ones that made it into the movie: “For me, [this was] the first time I’ve ever read a scene with other actors. Usually, you’re in the booth and a lot of the time, the directors just read [the lines] with you. But we were all able to do it [together and], it just all happened there…and that one day is where most of our performances came from.”

How Ariel and Prince Eric’s relationship evolved

Photo by Giles Keyte/Disney

The film really benefited from this unconventional way of filming, allowing the character connections to feel incredibly authentic. As for the character, Ariel specifically is often criticized for making a brash decision for a man she does not know but this version feels different from that. The connection between Ariel and Prince Eric feels more organic and less superficial. Prince Eric himself Jonah Hayer-King expanded on the changes in the story:

“I think a lot of [the changes] came from our off-screen selves as well in looking at Ariel and Eric as two people who were kindred spirits who felt a little bit restless, who felt like they were behind the four walls of their respective castles and were very much looking outwards and not in.  I think what was nice about that was that it meant that their relationship feels really earnt. They both felt like they were teaching each other things. They were excited and fascinated by each other’s worlds although they didn’t actually know it until the end.”

Halle Bailey’s Little Mermaid

Courtesy of Disney

Finally, we got to hear from the Little Mermaid and the center of all this Halle Bailey, who is breaking barriers and on the precepts of becoming a representation for an entirely new generation of diverse Disney fans. Halle described her relationship with Ariel and what she learned from the character she worked on for five years:

“From 18 to now being 23,  those are very intense, transformative years as you’re developing as a young woman. But I feel like especially these themes of the film and what she had to go through with her passions and drive and speaking up for herself, even though it may be scary, she went for it. I feel like those things I really try to adopt and give to Halle now. So, she’s taught me so much.”

Halle Bailey shines in this role and is sure to inspire, enchant and represent an entirely new generation of audience members. Fans of the original will appreciate the thoughtful and modern updates to their favorite characters.

THE LITTLE MERMAID becomes a part of our world in theaters everywhere May 26, 2023.

Ashleeta Beauchamp

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