Discovering Hidden Gems: An Exclusive Look at Disney’s ‘The Little Mermaid’ Press Conference with the Cast Monday 22 May, 2023

Dive into the enchanting world of The Little Mermaid once more with Disney’s highly-anticipated live-action remake, after a long and eager five-year wait. Get an exclusive glimpse into the thoughts and perspectives of the all-star cast about Disney’s upcoming blockbuster hit, “The Little Mermaid“!

(L to R) Jonah Hauer-King, Jacob Tremblay, Melissa McCarthy, Halle Bailey, Rob Marshall, Javier Bardem and Daveed Diggs attend the UK Premiere Of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” at Odeon Luxe Leicester Square on May 15, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by StillMoving.Net for Disney)

Nischelle Turner hosted a virtual press conference on May 9, before the movie’s theatrical release, featuring Bailey, Hauer-King, Diggs, Awkwafina, Tremblay, Bardem, McCarthy, and Dumezweni. Luckily, I was able to attend and listen in on the exciting conversation. Keep reading to discover what the talented cast had to reveal.

Question for Halle Bailey: What was your initial response when you received the news that you had been cast as Ariel, the Little Mermaid?

Bailey: I was just crying. I think we had celebrated my sister’s birthday the day before. So we were, like, we rented an Airbnb, we were coming home, like, unloading everything, like, in work mode. And then I got this call from Rob. And I don’t answer unknown numbers, so I just saw it, I’m like, whatever, not gonna answer it. And then my baby brother, like, comes running to me, was like, “Answer your phone, answer your phone.” [laugh] And I was like, okay. So I answered it, and then Rob was like, “Hello. I’m looking for Ariel.” And I was like, oh my gosh, and just crying for, like, the whole day.

Question for Halle: While watching the final product, it was evident that you all had a blast filming it. Which sequence did you enjoy shooting the most?

Bailey (Ariel) : Oh, wow. Well, I definitely think there were so many moments that were so much fun to film. But the funniest, like, most hilarious moment will be a moment with me and Jonah, because — [laugh] I think when he first was, your first few days on set — you were thrown in the tank with me. So we had our first kind of moment of me kind of picking him up and saving him and having to be in the middle of the rainstorm and the wave machine and the—

Hauer-King: Literally saving me. ‘Cause I was drowning, so thank you [laugh].

Bailey: So we were both trying to survive this moment, and, you know, in the tank at Pinewood, it’s so intense. When they turn on the thunder and lightning and fires around us and the waves, it feels like you’re in the middle of the ocean, like actually in the middle of a thunderstorm. So I was trying to look like, you know, I’m a mermaid, I do this all the time. And at the same time-

Hauer-King: I was just passed out. I was fine.

Bailey (Ariel) : Yeah [laugh]. And Jonah’s like, you know, so much taller than me, but I had to hold him up. And we kept laughing about these boots that he had to wear, because he kept sinking under because of the boots. And, you know, so we to, like, raise our hands and ask Rob, we’re like, “You know, you don’t see the boots, right? So can he just take them off?” Because he kept, like, stepping on my toes.

Hauer-King: I was kicking you. I was kicking you. Just say it, I was—

Bailey: He was like, yeah, he was kicking me.

Hauer-King: I was kicking you. I was breaking your shins [all laugh].

Bailey: So we were just dying in the water the whole time. Like, we have to look natural. It’s gonna
be okay. It’s gonna be okay. But that was, like, the funniest moment, I think.

Hauer-King: It was quite bonding as well ’cause it was early on.

Turner: So the moral to that is you injured Ariel [all laugh].

Hauer-King: Yeah, yeah. Basically almost killed her.

Question for Hauer-King: Your portrayal of Eric and Ariel’s love story breathed new life into an iconic tale. Which aspect of their story did you enjoy exploring the most, and what new element did you bring to the characters?

Hauer-King (Prince Eric): Friendship, I think. Disney romances are always, you know, they’re filled with that instinctive attraction to one another. We all wanna see that. But I think what was fun about this — and I think a lot of it came from our off-screen selves as well — 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 feels really earned. 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. 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, [Bailey’s] a riot, so we kinda got on fine.

Question for Melissa McCarthy: What was the most enjoyable aspect of filming, and what was the most difficult challenge you encountered while working on this film?

McCarthy (Ursula) : I think that the best part of filming was every little minute of it. It was the rehearsal, it was the crazy 60-foot clam shell. It was trying so desperately not to cry every time you sang a melody, because I was like, I don’t want her to think I’m crazy, as, like, tears are running down my face. The whole process. Rob Marshall, I think we all agree, sets up this world that is like, it is like why I fell in love with plays. It feels so small and yet you know it’s this enormous thing, but it just feels like if we all do our best, like, maybe we can make a show. And then it just becomes so personal and everyone’s doing their best, and he’s just there wrapped and swaddled in cashmere, just cheering quietly. Like, just quietly cheering everyone on. And
everyone, from the actors to, like, talking about the gorgeous camera moves and the sound department’s killing it and look at the costumes and it’s an appreciation of every human and all the moving parts that it takes to make a movie work. And having a cheerleader like that is like, I can’t even explain how fortunate I feel, and I’m sure all of us feel too. Just a soft, gentle cheerleader. If the world had that running everything, you know, we wouldn’t be so mad at each other.

Question for Awkwafina: How do you get into character for voice roles like Scuttle, versus, like, you know, anything else that you do?

Awkwafina (Scuttle) : You know, I would really like to say that I do, like, steaming or, like, exercise [all laugh]. I would love to say that I don’t go out the night before and I wake up early the day of. … I can say that I take a B12 vitamin before. No, I don’t, I really don’t. I wake up, I show up. Usually I’m in Crocs. And I’m just like, “Alright, let’s run it, Jed.” And then we do it.

Question for Daveed Diggs: You mentioned that being a part of this film was the coolest experience you’ve ever had. Despite being a part of other successful productions such as Hamilton and Blindspotting, what made this one particularly significant to you?

Diggs (Sebastian) : We were just talking about this. It’s just big, and it wasn’t — well, particularly for us, I think, but I think in general the way we worked on it, and this is why I think it’s good, wasn’t big. We worked on it like it was a small thing. At least in that work session, it really felt like we were kind of doing, like, community theater. We were pushing boxes around, like, to make sets, you know what I’m saying? And we got in this groove where it was, like, that’s how you make art. We made something that we understood, that everybody could wrap their arms around, and that we really believed in and knew inside and out. And then so to show up when they’re shutting down the street and, like, the posters are huge, and then you watch the film and it’s massive, on this massive screen, and the world, it’s a whole world that I never saw at all, you know what I’m saying? I recorded some voices and I dipped [all laugh]. So, like, I never saw any of that. And so to just sit there and be struck by it, it’s just it is really cool, to see a thing that, like, you thought only existed in your imagination. It really felt like we were just building a world in our heads, but then it was there on the screen. That was crazy.

Question for Nina Dunezweni: Your character in the live-action adaptation is entirely original and not present in the original work. Did you encounter any obstacles in creating a character that would fit seamlessly into the existing cast without appearing out of place?

Dumezweni: In the loveliest way, no challenges. Because what I’m trusting is Rob Marshall and Bernard Telsey[‘s] casting, and all the people involved, and Disney [to go], “We want you to be part of this, and we’re creating this story” … they know the story inside and out. They’ve done their work. My daughter was 12 when I got this gig, and she just turned 16 a few weeks ago. So the sense of [trusting] the work that’s there because they know what they would like to see, so therefore … I was very lucky. All I do is just trust the people I’m working with. And when you can play with people in that way, it’s easy to just let be, not to hold on tight. So of course, I will watch myself going, ‘Ah, ah, ah,’ but you go, no, it works. And a good costume by Colleen Atwood always works for me. I’m, like, cheap. Give me a good costume, give me good hair, and I’m very happy. So all those things went into this.

Question for Javier Bardem : As you did not have a song in the movie, which musical sequence were you most looking forward to watching?

Bardem (King Triton): All of them. I mean, all of them are very special. The quality of the choreography, the singing, the lyrics, the music, everything. It’s top notch. I mean, it’s top. And you could see the reaction of the crowd yesterday how they were applauding. The noise, they were enjoying, they were celebrating every number, as it deserves.

Question for Tremblay: Could you elaborate on the vocal training and preparation that you underwent for your role in the film?

Tremblay (Flounder) : Yeah. Well, it was my first time, you know, singing at all, so other than, like, in the shower, you know, if that even counts. I did work with a vocal coach, and he just taught me, like, a bunch of warm ups, I guess. So, you know, you do a bunch of warm ups. … It was, like, a bunch of, like, tongue twisters. And I got good at them after a while. I liked it.

Disney Studio’s Live-Action “The Little Mermaid” Splashes into Theaters May 26, 2023

About the Blogger - Kiwi the Beauty

Kiwi is the free spirited blogger and content creator of As a digital influencer, she produces creative inspiration around beauty, lifestyle, media and travel leisure. Her life mantra is to make manifesting fun! When she’s not blogging, she is eating trendy hipster food, carrying crystals, making it rain at her local farmer's market and binge brunching. Follow her on her blog and social media at + @kiwithebeauty

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