The Little Mermaid: On the red carpet with Halle Bailey, Javier Bardem and fellow cast at the London premiere
The much-anticipated live-action reimagining of Disney’s The Little Mermaid is finally arriving on our shores! The Upcoming had the chance to hit the blue carpet in London’s Leicester Square for the dazzling UK premiere, where no expense was spared in bringing Ariel’s world to life, from a giant octopus to a sea-like carpet scattered with shells, plus many a glittering outfit.
We heard from the star of the movie herself, Halle Bailey, about what it meant to her to be inspiring young girls around the world by taking on the role of the underwater princess, her experiences of working in a tank on-set and how excited she is for people to finally see the film.
Jacob Tremblay, the actor behind the iconic character of Flounder, shared the challenges and thrills of working with CGI, how he used the original movie as a springboard to bring a fresh take to his character and his admiration for his co-star, whose performance as Ariel left him with goosebumps every time. Tremblay hopes that the film, while a love story, will also inspire young viewers, emphasising the importance of relatable characters in cinema.
Mahmood, the voice behind Sebastian in the Italian version of The Little Mermaid, explained that his character stands out with his irony and pure heart, and praised the film’s fidelity to the original, believing that it enables a new generation to experience the same emotions many felt as children. He also revealed that singing Sebastian’s songs in Italian was a delightful experience, as he fondly remembers singing them in his childhood. After a recent performance of Imagine at Eurovision, the singer is now focusing on his next album.
Karolina Conchet told us about her character, Mala, one of Ariel’s sisters, who strives for family harmony and isn’t afraid to defend it. Conchet expressed her admiration for the film’s blend of classic elements and its updated representation, specifically mentioning Bailey’s casting as Ariel, noting that it breaks barriers and allows for broader dream-making. Conchet sees the film as more than a visual spectacle: it also explores love, connection, family dynamics and encompasses a range of emotions. Her favourite song? The timeless classic Part of Your World.
Catch more of the arrivals and soundbites from the film’s stars and creators below.
Bailey further expressed her hope that audiences will fall in love with the classic story anew, this time with added twists. The actor strongly believes that the film should be seen on the biggest screen possible, highlighting the importance of representation for children. She’s particularly honoured to depict a princess that many young girls can identify with. She thinks the key message fans will take away is to follow their dreams and make sacrifices for their passions, much like Ariel does in the film.
Javier Bardem, spoke about playing King Triton. He shared his experiences on-set and his admiration for Bailey, saying she was born with a magical presence that makes her perfect for Ariel. Bardem also highlighted the film’s universal appeal, believing it speaks to audiences of all ages – from kids as young as five, to “kids” of 150 years old, striking an emotional chord with adults while also providing engaging visuals and sound for younger viewers.
Melissa McCarthy shared her experience of playing Ursula and revealed key changes in the film that add depth to the narrative, such as making Triton and Ursula siblings, which introduces a family conflict aspect. The modernised relationship between Javier Bardem’s Triton and Ariel, according to her, reflects the fear of letting children go, adding emotional nuance. She highlighted Bailey’s unique vocal talent and impressive acting skills, but feels it’s her inner kindness and humility that truly make her shine. The actor enjoyed challenging herself with stunts and choreography, despite initial fears, and the rewarding experience of working on this project made her question if it was work at all, feeling more like a gift.
Daveed Diggs spoke about voicing Sebastian, described Bailey as a generational talent and a wonderful role model, and delved into the movie’s relational focus, highlighting the honest representation of growing up, rebellion, friendship and love, particularly between Ariel and Prince Eric. He also touched on the emotional father-daughter dynamic, where King Triton grapples with Ariel’s independence.
Director Rob Marshall and producer John DeLuca reminisced about the making of the film and heaped praises on their star, who they said brought a unique blend of strength, vulnerability and otherworldly quality to her role.
The Little Mermaid is released nationwide on 26th May 2023.
Watch the trailer for The Little Mermaid here: