Why Harry Styles wasn’t cast as Prince Eric in ‘The Little Mermaid’: “He was really looking to stretch himself”

Walt Disney Pictures

For a minute there, everyone was excited about Harry Styles being considered for the role of Prince Eric in Disney’s live-action version of The Little Mermaid — but he ultimately didn’t get the part. Now, the movie’s director is explaining why.

Rob Marshall tells Entertainment Weekly that while he did meet with Harry about the role, the singer decided to go in a different direction because he didn’t want a part that was based on him singing.

“We met with him. He was lovely. What a wonderful guy,” Marshall says of Harry. “But at the end of the day, he really felt like he wanted to go off and do the movies that he ended up doing, which were sort of darker.”

As Marshall explains, “For a lot of young musical people like Harry, you’re trying to carve your way and you don’t wanna be seen as a singer, necessarily. That’s why he was really looking to do something not in the musical genre, to really stretch himself.”

“It was really a fun idea to play with, but in the end, I always think things happen for a reason,” Marshall concludes. “I’m so happy to have two young, new people in the film.” Those “new” people would be Jonah Hauer-King, the British actor who ended up getting the part, and Halle Bailey.

Harry, of course, ended up starring in the dramas Don’t Worry Darling and My Policeman. He also made a cameo appearance in Marvel’s The Eternals. 

The Little Mermaid arrives on May 26.

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