The live-action remake of the Little Mermaid hits theaters next year, and it’s no shock that some fans are excited to see Halle Bailey as Ariel.
However, while the singer’s casting has been widely celebrated, some racist fans have expressed outrage against Disney for casting a black actor as Ariel.
Well, director Rob Marshall feels very differently. According to Entertainment Weekly, Marshall says there was “no agenda” with casting Ariel. “We just were looking for the best actor for the role, period—the end. We saw everybody and every ethnicity…,” he said.
While Bailey matched these qualities, her singing abilities sealed the deal. “That voice is something that is so signature and so ethereal and so beautiful that it captures the heart of Eric, and he looks for her for the entire film…,” he said.
Marshall also noted that they wanted someone “incredibly strong, passionate, beautiful, smart, clever” with “a great deal of fire and joy.” He added that some people who auditioned were too “jaded” or “too wise” for Ariel, but Bailey “still had that freshness in herself,” and as soon as they decided to cast her, they started thinking about “how we can make this her Ariel.”
Earlier this year, Bailey received racist backlash for the clip of her singing “Part of Your World” with 1.5 million “dislikes” on YouTube before the rating feature was disabled. When Bailey was cast as Ariel in 2019, a #NotMyAriel racist Twitter campaign ensued.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, who produced and co-wrote new music for the film, addressed people criticizing Halle’s casting. As someone who’s seen Bailey performing as Ariel, Miranda says that the critics can “stay mad” because they’re sure she’s “perfect for the part.”
Along with Bailey as Ariel, the diverse cast includes Jonah Hauer-King as Eric, Melissa McCarthy as Ursula, Javier Bardem as King Triton, Art Malik as Grimsby, and Noma Demezweni as Queen Selina. Daveed Diggs voices Sebastian the crab while Jacob Tremblay and Awkwafina voice Flounder and Scuttle.
The Little Mermaid is set to premiere in theaters globally on May 26, 2023.