The Little Mermaid star Jonah Hauer-King discusses what new dynamics he and co-star Halle Bailey added to Eric and Ariel’s relationship.
In the era of the Disney remake, sometimes it feels like they only exist to answer pedantic plot hole questions that snarky people on the internet come up with. However, some aspects are good to elaborate on, even in the context of a fairytale where you can suspend all sense of reality. When it comes to The Little Mermaid, there is no denying that everything feels a bit rushed because of the story’s timeline. That being said, this new remake does something that the previous adaptation didn’t, exploring the idea that before they had a romantic relationship, Ariel and Eric had a friendship. During the virtual press conference, Jonah Hauer-King was asked what he and Halle Bailey bring that is new to this dynamic, and he answered, “friendship.”
“Friendship, I think,” he said. “Disney romances are always filled with that instinctive attraction to one another. We all wanna see that, but I think what was fun about this. I think a lot of it came from our off-screen selves as well; I was looking at Ariel and Eric as two people who were kindred spirits who felt a little bit restless, who felt like they were behind the four walls of their respective castles and were very much looking outwards and not in. And I think what was nice about that was that it meant that their relationship felt really earnt. They both felt like they were teaching each other things. They were excited and fascinated by each other’s worlds, although they didn’t actually know it until the end.
“And so, that was really lovely because I think, actually, Melissa said this yesterday, that I think it’s a really good message for what it means to be in love and what it means to be in a relationship is ultimately tied to friendship,” Hauer-King continued. “That’s the fundamental thing of it. And that’s why it lasts, and that’s what makes it special. So, that was really fun to explore, and it was easy ’cause, you know, she’s [Bailey] a riot, so we kinda got on fine.”
At the end of the day, we all want to spend the rest of our lives with our best friends, whether in a romantic or platonic context. It’s an aspect of romance that isn’t always explored, and in fairytales, it often feels like the friendship aspect of the relationship isn’t explored. The moments when The Little Mermaid goes off and does its own thing, such as exploring this friendship, are the moments when the movie shines.
The Little Mermaid: Summary, Cast, Release Date
The Little Mermaid, helmed by visionary filmmaker Rob Marshall, opens exclusively in theaters nationwide on May 26, 2023. The beloved story of Ariel, a beautiful and spirited young mermaid with a thirst for adventure, The Little Mermaid stars singer and actress Halle Bailey (grown-ish) as Ariel; Tony Award® winner Daveed Diggs (Hamilton, Snowpiercer) as the voice of Sebastian; Jacob Tremblay (Luca, Room) as the voice of Flounder; Awkwafina (Raya and the Last Dragon) as the voice of Scuttle; Jonah Hauer-King (A Dog’s Way Home) as Prince Eric; Art Malik (Homeland) as Sir Grimsby; Noma Dumezweni (Mary Poppins Returns) as Queen Selina; with Oscar® winner Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men, Being the Ricardos) as King Triton; and two-time Academy Award® nominee Melissa McCarthy (Can You Ever Forgive Me? Bridesmaids) as Ursula. The youngest of King Triton’s daughters and the most defiant, Ariel longs to find out more about the world beyond the sea and, while visiting the surface, falls for the dashing Prince Eric. While mermaids are forbidden to interact with humans, Ariel must follow her heart. She makes a deal with the evil sea witch, Ursula, which gives her a chance to experience life on land but ultimately places her life – and her father’s crown – in jeopardy.
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