Original Ariel praises Halle Bailey's new 'Little Mermaid'

Jodi Benson, who voiced Ariel in Disney's animated movie, offered her support for Halle Bailey at the live reboot's L.A. premiere.
Jodi Benson
Posted at 3:40 PM, May 16, 2023

The original Ariel approves of Ariel 2.0.

Jodi Benson, the voice of Ariel in the 1989 animated Disney classic "The Little Mermaid," is singing the praises of Halle Bailey, who portrays Ariel in the upcoming live-action remake of the same name.

When asked at the May 8 Hollywood premiere of the new movie why Bailey was the "ideal choice to play Ariel," Benson pointed to "her pure spirit, her joy, the love, her unbelievable vulnerability, her authenticity, her bravery, her courage."

"It's just beautiful, a beautiful telling of the Ariel story," Benson told The Hollywood Reporter. "I'm so proud of her."

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Benson explained she would be crying through the whole movie as she watched, in part because she would be thinking of lyricist Howard Ashman, who, with composer Alan Menken, wrote the songs in the original 1989 "The Little Mermaid." 

Benson is a veteran singer and actor who has been featured in many Disney films. She was the voice of Barbie in the "Toy Story" franchise and has had a successful Broadway career. She wore a sweeping floor-length gown to the "The Little Mermaid" remake's Hollywood debut on May 8 and enthusiastically greeted Bailey on the blue carpet.

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The official Twitter account for the new film shared a video of their meeting. Decked out in a silvery-blue Valdrin Sahiti gown with a shell-shaped bodice, Bailey looked happy and had a short conversation with Benson.

Bailey, who is half of the singing sister duo Chloe x Halle and is also known for her role on the TV show "Grown-ish," tweeted, "I'm so overwhelmed and overjoyed that this movie is almost here for you all to see."

Bailey's casting as Ariel was announced in 2019, and though there was some racist response to a Black actor playing a previously white character, there was also a positive outpouring of excitement from fans. When the first trailer was released, parents of young Black girls began posting their little girls' joyful reactions as they watched the trailer and saw an Ariel who looked like them for the first time.

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Also starring in the live-action remake of "The Little Mermaid" are Melissa McCarthy as Ursula, Javier Bardem as King Triton, Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric, Daveed Diggs as Sebastian, Jacob Tremblay as Flounder, Awkwafina as Scuttle, and Noma Dumezweni as a new character, Prince Eric's mother Queen Selina. The film is directed by Rob Marshall.

"I'm so thrilled that Rob Marshall captured our beautiful animated film into this transition of this live-action retelling, and Halle and all of the cast … they're absolutely perfect," Benson told VarietyRadioOnline at the film's premiere.

"The Little Mermaid" will be released in theaters May 26, so you can see then if you agree!

This story was originally published by Anna Weaver on Simplemost