Over the summer, pieces for the live-action Little Mermaid steadily came together, with Halle Bailey signing on to play Ariel, and Melissa McCarthy joining as Ursula, followed by Daveed Diggs as Sebastian, Jacob Tremblay and Awkwafina as Flounder and Scuttle, respectively, and Javier Bardem as King Triton (brilliant choice, hiring one of the most indelible villain actors of the last ten years to play the hyper-controlling Triton). Then it seemed The Little Mermaid hit a wall, as casting for Prince Eric stalled out. Harry Styles was in talks for a minute, but then he passed. I can’t say I blame him. As much as I liked the idea of his swagger for Prince Eric—one of the dumber Disney princes, let’s be honest—Styles’ only film credit to date is Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. As an actor, he is starting from a very high bar. And it’s not like he depends on that to make his living. He can afford to be picky with acting roles. Besides, he’s going on tour in 2020, when this movie will be filming.
So that didn’t work out, and it has taken two whole months for Disney to find their Prince Eric. But now it is being reported that Jonah Hauer-King will play Prince Eric. He’s an English actor, you may have seen him in the Maya Hawke-led BBC production of Little Women a couple years ago, where he played Laurie. He’s got dimples and floppy hair, so I can see where Harry Styles is still a reference point for Eric. But really the only requirement for Prince Eric is that he is a big ol’ dum-dum. This is a guy who can’t tell a redhead and a brunette apart, so really all we need from Jonah Hauer-King is a believable level of boneheadedness. Actually, Laurie might be a good correlation to Eric, because Laurie can’t get a clue, either. I’m sure this kid will do a fine job playing Eric, who is in no way worthy of Ariel, don’t @ me. And I’m just so relieved we’re not being subjected to Noah Centineo’s Prince Eric. I was really afraid of that. Now if we can just dodge James Corden’s Chef Louis, The Little Mermaid will be set.