The Little Mermaid Director Reveals Bob Iger’s Reaction to Halle Bailey’s Ariel

Halle Bailey is set to become the next major star for Disney as Ariel in the live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid.

When director Rob Marshall first heard Bailey sing, he brought her in to screen test for Ariel. However, The Little Mermaid director revealed how Disney CEO Bob Iger’s reaction to Bailey’s Ariel proved she was right for the role.

What was Bob Iger’s Reaction to Halle Bailey’s Ariel?

While speaking with Deadline, Marshall described how Bailey’s performance at the Grammys first put the talented singer-songwriter on his radar. After he brought her in for a screen test, Bailey’s rendition of “Part of Your World” brought him to tears. Despite the challenges of casting Ariel, Marshall believed Bailey was the one, as did Iger, who agreed with the decision.

“The thing about Ariel that’s so tricky is that you’re asking for so many things. You’re asking for innocence and vulnerability, but strength at the same time,” Marshall said. “Strong-willed, almost bullheaded kind of character who sees what they want and goes to get it. But there had to be joy from her, and Halle had all of that.”

“She was the first actor we saw for the film, the first one. And then we saw everybody else,” Marshall continued. “She set the bar so high, and nobody surpassed that bar. We did a screen test with her, and it was just, well, this is it. I went immediately to Bob Iger with the screen test, and within minutes he said, yes, of course. She’s Ariel.”

The Little Mermaid is directed by Marshall from a screenplay by David Magee, based on the 1989 animated film of the same name. Bailey stars as Ariel, along with Jonah Hauer-King as Eric, Awkwafina as Scuttle, Jacob Tremblay as Flounder, Daveed Diggs as Sebastian, Javier Bardem as King Triton, Noma Dumezweni as Queen Selina, and Melissa McCarthy as Ursula.

The Little Mermaid arrives in theaters on May 26.

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