Prince Eric Receives a Personality in Disney’s ‘The Little Mermaid’ Live Action

During an interview with Entertainment Weekly on the Walt Disney Studios’ upcoming The Little Mermaid (2023), director Rob Marshall, revealed new information about the creative enhancements coming to the live-action version of love interest Prince Eric. Most notably, he addressed concerns over Prince Eric’s former lack of a “personality.”

Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid tells the tragic story of a young siren who gives up her life for painful legs in order to try and win the love of a human prince, who will never love her back. In the 1989 Disney adaptation, the story follows Ariel, the youngest daughter of the sea king Triton, whose fascination with the human world and collecting human objects gets her into trouble. After Ariel rescues a young prince from drowning, the evil sea witch Ursula manipulates her into a magical deal in order to steal her father’s throne.

The Little Mermaid' Teaser Trailer: Disney's Live-Action Riff On The Animated Classic Arrives May 2023 [D23 Expo]

Credit: The Playlist

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With music from legendary composer Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, the original became an instant classic and reinvented the Disney film, and the Disney princess, as we know it. However, while fans fell in love with Jodie Benson’s bubbly and headstrong Ariel, her flute-playing prince, Eric, left a lot to be desired.

Now, Disney will reimagine the animated favorite in live-action form, starring Halle Bailey as the mermaid princess opposite Jonah Hauer-King (not Harry Styles) as her prince. In fact, Marshall said of Eric: “I’m sure the original creators would agree with this — it’s a wooden, classic prince character with not a lot going on.”

Little Mermaid live-action movie casts Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric |

Credit: Entertainment Weekly

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In contrast, Marshall’s leading love interest has a “fleshed out” backstory, similar to those of his princely counterparts before him. For example, Maleficent (2014) reworks Prince Phillip’s storyline, taking away his knight in shining armor fight scenes and true love’s kiss in favor of forcing him to get to know Aurora first before deciding that he loves her. Plus, the second film created all-new lore for his fantasy kingdom, including a warmonger mother with whom Aurora and Maleficent do not get along.

Moreover, Cinderella (2015) took a similar approach with Ella’s Prince Kit, with whom she becomes acquainted prior to the ball under false pretenses, bonding through a mutual understanding of what it’s like to loss one’s parents and not have control over one’s life. Indeed, Marshall notes the addition of Eric’s queen mother, and a “similar trajectory” to Ariel in that “he doesn’t feel like [his world] is where he fits in.”

Watch The Little Mermaid | Full Movie | Disney+

Credit: Disney Plus

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As a result, Prince Eric seems more open to challenging the dangerous stereotypes he’s been taught about the ocean’s mermaids, seeing Ariel as a “kindred spirit.” Furtheremore, Marshall adds the film will help “the world about prejudice and about breaking down barriers and walls between these two worlds” when it premieres May of next year.

Additionally, the film includes music from Lin Manuel Miranda and familiar characters like Sebastian (Daveed Diggs), Flounder (Jacob Tremblay), Scuttle (Awkwafina), King Triton (Javier Bardem), and Ursula (Melissa McCarthy). Will you be making Disney’s The Little Mermaid part of your world?

About Spencer Beck

Spencer is a lifelong lover of theme parks, princesses, and Disney history that recently relocated to Northern California. She completed her undergraduate studies at UCLA, where she was the founder and first president of the campus Disney Club. A former Cast Member still mourning the loss of the Disney Store, she now haunts the halls of the Walt Disney Family Museum, and shares her opinions with anyone who will listen @pinknpurble everywhere.