‘The Little Mermaid’ director explains how Ariel and Prince Eric will break barriers in new live-action musical

Halle Bailey in 'The Little Mermaid'
Image via Disney

Next year, Disney will cash in with another live-action remake of one of their animated films. The new version of The Little Mermaid features an interracial relationship at its core and breaking barriers is the main crux of the tale.

Director Rob Marshall spoke about this thematic element to Entertainment Weekly. He says though the original story is old, Ariel can be seen as a modern woman for wanting to go her own way in it. He adds he was also moved by seeing videos of Black children reacting to the first trailer featuring Halle Bailey as Ariel. Eric is given more to do in this version of the story than just being the cliché and one-note prince character of the past take.

“She’s not afraid of the ‘other,’ the human world, especially in our film. There’s a wall, basically, built between the worlds. That’s the rule that is never broken. These two kindred spirits find each other and really teach the world about prejudice and about breaking down barriers and walls between these two worlds.”

The piece releases May 26 next year. Aside from star Bailey, it also features Jonah Hauer-King as Eric, Melissa McCarthy as Ursula the sea witch, Javier Bardem as King Triton, and Daveed Diggs as Sebastian the Crab who will also be a composer, too.

During production, Bailey approached her role with the intent of doing something that would make her younger self proud. Because we live in an era where any non-white performer gets racist backlash, it has happened here. Thankfully, others in the Disney fold like upcoming Snow White star Rachel Zegler have given support and so has original Ariel actress Jodi Benson.