“It’s still not confirmed, but I’m very excited for just the announcement of it,” Awkwafina told Variety Saturday at D23 Expo. “I love who they chose for Ariel, and I think it’s gonna be really great.”
The same report named Jacob Tremblay (Good Boys) as the voice of Flounder, sidekick to undersea princess Ariel (Halle Bailey). In June, Variety reported Melissa McCarthy (The Kitchen) was in talks for the role of sea witch Ursula, who schemes to steal Ariel’s voice.
Jodie Benson, who voiced Ariel in Disney’s 1989 animated classic, defended Bailey’s casting after some online commenters criticized Disney for casting a POC actress as a character originally depicted as white-skinned.
“The most important thing is to tell the story. And we have, as a family, we have raised our children, and for ourselves, that we don’t see anything that’s different on the outside,” Benson said during a Florida convention in July.
“I think that the spirit of a character is what really matters. What you bring to the table in a character as far as their heart, and their spirit, is what really counts,” Benson added. “And the outside package — cause let’s face it, I’m really, really old — and so when I’m singing ‘Part of Your World,’ if you were to judge me on the way that I look on the outside, it might change the way that you interpret the song. But if you close your eyes, you can still hear the spirit of Ariel.”
When announcing Bailey’s casting, director Rob Marshall (Into the Woods, Mary Poppins Returns) said it was“abundantly clear” Bailey possessed “that rare combination of spirit, heart, youth, innocence, and substance — plus a glorious singing voice — all intrinsic qualities necessary to play this iconic role.”
Disney has not yet announced a release date for The Little Mermaid.