The cast of Disney’s live-action Little Mermaid has resurfaced from under the sea after six months of intensive shooting, a recent Instagram post reveals. They filmed scenes in Pinewood Studios and moved to Sardinia, Italy for “roughly three months” of on-location establishing shots near the water. Principal photography officially concluded on Sunday. R&B singer Halle Bailey, who plays Ariel, celebrated the momentous occasion online, remembering the times she almost quit (but didn’t) and praising her co-stars in equal measure. Her Instagram post didn’t shy away from mentioning her struggles acclimating to such a high-profile role.
Check out Halle Bailey as Ariel below:
The photo above is a gorgeous shot of Halle Bailey playfully arched back, cavorting in the waves against a backdrop of Sardinia at sundown. Her hair is in dreadlocks and remains a dark shade of brown; her mermaid tail is knee-deep in the froth, resting casually on the beach. Her hair will presumably be colored red during editing.
Halle Bailey faced wave after wave of social media backlash after being cast as Ariel in The Little Mermaid, a part many Disney stalwarts feel was an ill-advised diversity pick. But producers have been courting actresses of color from the start, and Bailey checked off brilliantly; not only is she a powerhouse of a vocalist, she does resemble Ariel to a smashing tee. Gaze upon that wide-eyed visage and virginal smile, and don’t tell us that isn’t Ariel in a gist. Production persevered amid continuing criticism, pairing Bailey with Jonah Hauer-King after former One Direction member Harry Styles bowed out to prioritize touring and casting musical constants in major roles.
Prior to Halle Bailey being chosen, fans campaigned tirelessly for natural redheads to topbill the film, but it’s like they say — may the best mermaid win. Bailey beat out potentially thousands of fair-skinned actors — Lindsay Lohan being one of them — to snag the much-coveted part of Ariel.
Many actors of color have gone on to play conventionally white roles in recent memory. DC fans adored Anna Diop’s take on Starfire, while Rosario Dawson portrayed Ahsoka to universal acclaim in The Mandalorian. Hamilton itself is chockfull of blind castings — notably Daveed Diggs playing Thomas Jefferson and Frenchman Marquis de Lafayette and Renée Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler — all phenomenal picks at the end of the day. Zendaya is MJ in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Zazie Beetz brought Marvel superhero Domino to life in Deadpool 2.
Kevin Feige went for a darker-skinned Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) in Thor. Mark Grayson’s first girlfriend in Invincible, Amber Bennett, is a blonde in the comics, but duly updated at creator Robert Kirkman’s request to suit the times. Hollywood has racebent a hundred times before and it worked without a hitch in most cases. Good storytelling is often less about the idea, and more about the quality of the execution. Halle Bailey is a perfect example.
The Little Mermaid stars Halle Bailey as Ariel, Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric, Javier Bardem as King Triton, Melissa McCarthy as Ursula, Jude Akuwudike as Grimsby, Noma Dumezweni as Carlotta, Daveed Diggs as Sebastian, Jacob Tremblay as Flounder, and Awkwafina as Scuttle. The man behind Chicago, Rob Marshall, is directing from a screenplay written by X-Men: First Class’s Jane Goldman and Life of Pi’s David Magee. Lin-Manuel Miranda is writing original songs with Alan Menken overseeing, with Marc Platt (Dear Evan Hansen) executive producing. The adaptation currently has no release date, but will likely come out sometime next year.