Harry Styles as Prince Eric beside Halle Bailey’s Ariel? That was the vision for The Little Mermaid (2023), once upon a time. But that didn’t happen and it came as a shock that Styles backed out of the role. Ultimately, it was a lesser-known star who became the prince.
A lot of movie and Disney fans were distraught that Styles declined the part even though, as per reports, he came close to getting the role. He even had a great screen test with Bailey. So why did the actor back out during the final stages?
Harry Styles Was Almost Ariel’s Prince Eric In The Little Mermaid
Hollywood Life reported that initially, Harry Styles was very interested in playing Prince Eric in Disney’s The Little Mermaid, a live-action adaptation of the animated film. There were reports that he had a good chance of actually landing the role. The site reported that even though nothing was officially confirmed, the makers wanted him in the film. After all, he was the perfect man for the part. Hollywood Life wrote:
“[Styles] can sing, he can act and he’s a heartthrob so he’s a natural for the romantic lead, he’s really a perfect fit for this part. It’s a musical so it’s a great chance for him to showcase all of his talent.”
The outlet basically published that everything was going well, and Harry Styles had gelled with Halle Bailey as well as the team that was coming on board for the project. The site reported:
“Harry loves the whole team that’s being assembled. He thinks Halle’s incredibly talented and thinks she’s a brilliant choice for Ariel. He screen-tested with her and they clicked, he wouldn’t have got this far if they hadn’t.
But Styles ultimately didn’t get the coveted part in the tentpole. It was Jonah Hauer-King who ran away with it.
The Little Mermaid Director Revealed Why Harry Styles Abandoned The Film
Deadline reported that Jonah Hauer-King tested alongside a famous actor from a comic book show. But he was the one who got the part of Prince Eric in The Little Mermaid. As for Harry Styles, it was reported that he backed away from the part. The site wrote:
“Jonah Hauer-King was tested along with Krypton actor Cameron Cuffe London’s Pinewood Studios for the role back in September. Hauer-King’s casting comes in the wake of Harry Styles backing away from talks for the part of Ariel’s love interest; news of circling broke in July.”
As for why Styles backed away from the role, director Rob Marshall revealed that it was because he wanted to add variety to his resume by doing darker films. Marshall told Entertainment Weekly that:
“We met with him. He was lovely. What a wonderful guy. But at the end of the day, he really felt like he wanted to go off and do the movies that he ended up doing, which were sort of darker. For a lot of young musical people like Harry, you’re trying to carve your way and you don’t wanna be seen as a singer, necessarily. That’s why he was really looking to do something not in the musical genre, to really stretch himself.”
However, Marshall has no regrets. He was thankful that he got to direct Jonah Hauer-King and Halle Bailey, two young and upcoming stars together.
The Little Mermaid is now in theaters.