The road to the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid was as long as the seven seas, but on May 26, 2023, the wave finally crested and audiences around the world welcomed Ariel into their world.
In keeping with Disney’s push to remake virtually every animated movie in its catalog of classics, The Little Mermaid was officially greenlit back in 2016, right around the same time films like Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King were being released. While those have come and gone, The Little Mermaid remains the latest in the Mouse House’s live-action installment, even if it contributed to a less-than-stellar year for the company, financially speaking.
Unlike Beauty and the Beast or The Lion King, The Little Mermaid didn’t quite manage to cross the billion-dollar threshold as Disney no doubt hoped. It earned $560 billion at the global box office, but its domestic sales and the money it cost to make the film found it lumped together with three other Disney films that wound up costing the company $1 billion in 2023. (Yikes).
But when you take money out of the equation, The Little Mermaid was actually quite lovely, and the chemistry between Prince Eric and Ariel was every bit as palpable as fans of the original movie could have hoped for. Even more so, some might argue.
In a film that relies on the romance between its main leads, the casting choice is paramount. Thankfully, The Little Mermaid knocked it out of the park, not just with Halle Bailey as Ariel but also with the hunk of a beautiful specimen that was the actor behind Prince Eric.
Who plays Prince Eric in The Little Mermaid?
You can’t have The Little Mermaid without Ariel, and similarly, you can’t have Ariel’s storyline without Prince Eric. Originally played by Christopher Daniel Barnes in the 1989 animated movie, the two-legged character defines the very backbone of the movie’s storyline, and as such requires a delicate casting process to ensure the perfect fit.
The decision was not made lightly, and for a while, it seemed as though heartthrob singer-actor Harry Styles would nab the part. However, in 2019 it was finally announced that the role would go to rising English actor Jonah Hauer-King.
Where else have we seen Jonah Hauer-King?
Jonah Hauer-King has appeared in a smattering of movies and TV shows dating back to 2016. However, The Little Mermaid is by far his biggest role to date and one that will mark a new era in his career by putting him on the radar for all of Hollywood to take note of.
Hauer-King, 28, has experienced an upward trajectory in terms of his acting roles. His cinematic debut came in 2016 when his performance in John Osborne’s modern classic play The Entertainer received a cinematic release.
The following year in 2017, Hauer-King starred opposite actor Danny Huston in the family drama The Last Photograph. Then, his first major TV appearance came by way of the British-American mini-series Howard’s End, followed by BBC’s Little Women, in which he played the character Laurie Laurence opposite Stranger Things actress Maya Hawke.
Hauer-King’s biggest movie role to date came in 2019 when he starred as the main character Lucas in the wholesome drama A Dog’s Way Home. Since then he’s successfully continued playing prominent roles in shows like BBC’s World on Fire and Paramount Plus’ The Flatshare.
The Little Mermaid marks his first major movie since 2019, and undoubtedly the first of many more to come. The Little Mermaid is currently available to stream on Disney Plus.