Halle Bailey Reflects on ‘The Little Mermaid’ Trailer Reaction: ‘It Was Definitely a Shock’
In a new interview with Edition magazine, Halle Bailey discussed embodying Ariel in Disney’s upcoming live-action reimagining of The Little Mermaid, noting that the response to the trailer was a “shock.”
Despite many racist comments, however, the actress and singer was grateful that young women of color were able to relate to her character.
“Seeing the world’s reaction to it was definitely a shock, but seeing all the babies’ reactions, all the brown and Black young girls, really tore me up emotionally,” Bailey said. “It’s honestly been such a crazy ride, and I genuinely feel shocked and honored and grateful to be in this position. A lot of times, I have to pinch myself and be like, is this real life?”
Elsewhere in the interview, Bailey revealed how director Rob Marshall and his team used water tanks and practical effects to create the world of the film. She said she spent up to 13 hours in the water on some days of shooting.
“I pushed myself as far as I’ve ever pushed myself in life,” she said. “And I feel like the message from her was to know that you’ve always had it in you.”
The film, originally released as an animated movie in 1989, reworks Ariel’s story and perspective for modern day, according to Bailey.
“I’m really excited for my version of the film because we’ve definitely changed that perspective of just her wanting to leave the ocean for a boy,” she explained. “It’s way bigger than that. It’s about herself, her purpose, her freedom, her life and what she wants. As women we are amazing, we are independent, we are modern, we are everything and above. And I’m glad that Disney is updating some of those themes.”
News of Bailey’s casting as Ariel initially drew ire from some Disney fans, who took issue with a Black actress embodying the role of the fictional princess. The Grammy Award nominee — half of celebrated sister duo Chloe x Halle — addressed the controversy in an interview with Variety last year.
She also confirmed in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that Marshall encouraged her to incorporate aspects of herself into the iconic role, including her locs.
“With Rob, he’s so amazing and just saying, ‘I see you and I want to bring you into the character,’” Bailey said. “So it was a beautiful thing. My hair, for example — incorporating my locs into the red hair was something that was really special to me. The outfit, the fins, everything. It’s just amazing. I’m just grateful that I’ve been able to take the essence of me and mix the two.”
The final trailer for The Little Mermaid debuted during the Oscars earlier this month. The two-minute video gave fans their most in-depth look yet at the action to come with the Disney live-action.
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