Melissa McCarthy and Halle Bailey Discuss the Responsibility of Bringing The Little Mermaid to Life on the Big Screen

Disney's Beloved Classic Gets a Modern Twist
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The Little Mermaid is a beloved Disney animated film that has inspired fans since it first was released in 1989. Mermaids, a Disney Prince, catchy songs and animal sidekicks – the film was destined to be a crowd favourite. And it was, for over 30 years, Ariel has remained a classic in the Disney Universe, and the iconic characters have remained relatively untouched apart from a sequel in 2000 and a prequel in 2008. 

Watch Below: The Little Mermaid | Official Trailer

When news first broke that the film was receiving a live-action remake, fans were unsure how to feel. Whilst some were afraid of Hollywood ruining their childhood fantasy, others were excited to see their adolescent fairy tale come to life on the big screen and despite initial mixed reactions towards the project, it’s clear the 2023 version pays tribute to the original. 

Whilst the cast and crew hit the nail on the head, creating a reinterpreted and relevant fairy tale for a new generation, there’s no denying that they felt a huge responsibility in bringing iconic characters to life on the big screen. 

The Little Mermaid
Halle Bailey, 23, is set to enchant audiences on the big screen as she takes on the iconic role of Ariel. (Credit: Getty)

“I feel so grateful to be in this position honestly,” Halle Bailey, 23, shares with WHO.

“Ariel was my favourite princess and to have the chance to be part of the reimagination where I get to play her and represent for this new generation – especially seeing the reactions of all the black and brown little girls and boys who get to see themselves in me – it’s truly an honour and I’m so grateful to be here.”

The Little Mermaid
“It’s a love letter to the original,” Melissa explains. (Credit: Getty)

“It’s a big job,” Melissa McCarthy adds. “It’s nerve-wracking and I think we were all aware that we loved it, but that other people have ownership of it because it’s been with them for so long.”

“But I think at a certain point, because of that, we were like let’s do this to the best of our ability and I think there was something really exciting in how Rob [Marshall] and Disney did it.”

“It’s a love letter to the original,” the actress who plays Ursula continues, “but it is reinterpreted. It’s modern and I think it’s relevant, which was fun and entertaining.”

The Little Mermaid 2023 live action where to watch
“You have all the pieces of the original but we have something fuller.” (Credit: Disney)

So why remake a classic? Director Rob Marshall explains that it’s to create a “fuller experience.” 

“All of a sudden you have real people and it lends itself to a deeper story, a broader story,  a fuller story and ultimately a more emotional story. I have to say I think people will love this film for that reason – you have all the pieces of the original but we have something fuller.”

The Little Mermaid 2023 live action where to watch
The Little Mermaid opens exclusively in Australian cinemas on May 25, 2023. (Credit: Disney)

Watching the new remake, it’s clear the original storyline still resonates with audiences over 30 years later and Melissa attributes its success to the still-relevant themes. 

“It isn’t just a girl looking for a boy,” she explains. “It’s two young people who are choosing and demanding to have the life that they want, not the life they’ve been assigned, and I think that’s so relevant now and important to see on screen.”

“Even at the end it isn’t just that they’re going to live happily ever after, it’s that everybody has to realise we can meet people [who aren’t like us] we don’t have to fear them, we don’t need to run, we can embrace our differences – and putting all of that good stuff that we need now, into a story we already loved, is just perfection.” 

The Little Mermaid opens exclusively in Australian cinemas on May 25, 2023.

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