Disney's live-action reimagining of The Little Mermaid has landed (fishing pun fully intended) The Undoing standout Noma Dumezweni to appear in a new role created for the movie and not previously explored in the animated classic. The film, which will star Halle Bailey as the titular Ariel, will also feature performances by Daveed Diggs, Melissa McCarthy, Awkwafina, and Javier Bardem. It centers on Ariel, a young mermaid who makes a deal with an evil sorceress in order to meet a land-dwelling man she falls for. The 1989 animated movie earned more than $200 million at the box office, and is considered one of the best films Disney has made in decades.
Prior to appearing in The Undoing, Dumezweni appeared in Hulu's Normal People. In 2021, she will appear in HBO's Made For Love. She previously worked with Disney (and The Little Mermaid director Rob Marshall) in Mary Poppins Returns. The Little Mermaid will be directed by Marshall, with a script from David Magee and Jane Goldman. It is expected to feature original songs from the 1989 animated blockbuster, as well as new tracks composed by Alan Menken and Lin-Manuel Miranda, who collaborated with Diggs on Hamilton.
"There are things I’ve learned about how you have to work to integrate songs into story, and how it has to feel earned. It can’t just be sort of put there, placed there, because you feel there should be a song," Marshall told ComicBook.com. "It has to be a song that’s earned, that takes you there. And so as we’re working on, in a way, fleshing out The Little Mermaid — Ariel has one song in the animated film — and so we’re looking for maybe more material."
Marshall has a long career filled with over-the-top set design and a ton of musical numbers, ranging from Memoirs of a Geisha and Chicago to Into the Woods and Nine.
"Alan Menken and Lin-Manuel Miranda are coming on board to write some lyrics, so that’s exciting, to sort of take what was there, which is so beloved, but also find a way to create a live-action version of it," Marshall said, adding “the lessons of creating an original musical have been very helpful so far."
The Little Mermaid is currently undated, but there is currently a release date slot for an untitled Disney live-action movie on November 19, 2021. Expect more updates as production moves along in Puerto Rico and South Africa.