Rob Marshall Shared Why Harry Styles Ended Up Passing on Playing Prince Eric in 'The Little Mermaid'

Look at this role, isn't it neat? Wouldn't it make your IMDb complete?

Harry Styles Brit Awards Red Carpet

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Disney's upcoming Little Mermaid could have looked a little different. Leading up the movie's big release, there were rumors that Harry Styles was in talks to play the beloved Prince Eric — you know, the prince with the flute and the shaggy dog — but ultimately, he passed on the chance to be a part of Disney history. In a new interview, director Rob Marshall explained that while Harry was great, the singer-turned-actor ended up focusing on "darker" roles.

"We met with him. He was lovely. What a wonderful guy," Marshall told Entertainment Weekly. "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."

Instead of heading under the sea, Harry had two films come out in 2022: Don't Worry Darling with Florence Pugh and Chris Pine and My Policeman with David Dawson and Emma Corrin. He's also set to have a major role in Marvel's upcoming releases, something that was teased at the end of Eternals.

Harry Styles Brit Awards

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"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," Marshall added. "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. I'm so happy to have two young, new people in the film."

Jonah Hauer-King is set to play Prince Eric part opposite Halle Bailey's (already controversial) Ariel. Hauer-King is a British actor most well-known for PBS's Little Women adaptation. 

"I'm always looking for the person who's deeply connected to a part," Marshall said of casting Hauer-King as Eric. "The words come off the page [and] all of a sudden they're in his mouth, and it sounds true and real. You believe the person."

The Little Mermaid arrives in theaters on May 26.

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