'The Little Mermaid' Remake Finds Its Ariel In Halle Bailey

Singer-actress Halle Bailey wants to be where the people are, so she's joined Disney's Little Mermaid remake cast. Bailey will play lead character Ariel, who really wants to get away from her undersea kingdom and hang out with us lousy land-dwelling humans. The cast for Disney's latest live-action remake is coming together quickly, with Melissa McCarthy, Jacob Tremblay, and Awkwafina all in talks to dive into the project.

Halle Bailey, a singer-actress who appeared in Last Holiday and on the TV series Grown-ish, is officially Disney's live-action Little Mermaid. Rob Marshall, who helmed Disney's Mary Poppins Returns, is set to direct the remake of the 1989 animated film, with Marshall, John DeLuca, Marc Platt and Lin-Manuel Miranda all producing. The film will feature songs from the original movie by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, with new songs by Menken (music) and Miranda (lyrics).

"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," Marshall said in a statement. Jodi Benson provided the voice of Ariel in the original film.

Little Mermaid casting has been surfacing over the last few days. First word came that Melissa McCarthy was in talks to play villain Ursula. Then we learned that Jacob Tremblay would likely provide the voice of Ariel's fish friend Flounder, and Awkwafina was in talks to take on the voice of the seagull Scuttle. The original Little Mermaid marked the start of the Disney Renaissance, the decade when Disney recovered from a series of bombs and setbacks to create several critically acclaimed and iconic box office smashes.

Disney continues to mine their older animated films for new live-action fodder. Live-action takes on Dumbo and Aladdin have already opened this year, with The Lion King arriving this month, and Maleficent: Mistress of Evil opening in October.

In the original The Little Mermaid, "rebellious 16-year-old mermaid Ariel is fascinated with life on land. On one of her visits to the surface, which are forbidden by her controlling father, King Triton, she falls for a human prince. Determined to be with her new love, Ariel makes a dangerous deal with the sea witch Ursula to become human for three days. But when plans go awry for the star-crossed lovers, the king must make the ultimate sacrifice for his daughter."

Production on the new Little Mermaid is expected to start in 2020.