So that's why he won't be part of Ariel's world. The reason Harry Styles turned down The Little Mermaid's Prince Eric role had a lot to do with not wanting to give up his voice — musically anyway. “It was discussed,” the singer revealed of being up for the part, in a new interview with The Face. “I want to put music out and focus on that for a while. But everyone involved in it was amazing, so I think it’s going to be great. I’ll enjoy watching it, I’m sure.”
Back in July, several outlets, including Variety and The Hollywood Reporter announced that Styles was “in early negotiations” to play the handsome prince opposite Halle Bailey's Ariel in the Disney live-action remake. Fans naturally went into a frenzy of excitement over the potential casting — only to have their hopes crushed months later. All things considered, it did seem like a done deal, given that both AMC Theatres and Regal Cinemas tweeted Styles accepted the role, on Aug. 13. (Both theater chains later deleted their tweets.)
The same day, however, The Wrap broke the disappointing news that Styles had "respectfully declined" the Prince Eric role, despite being a fan of the project. Variety later corroborated the news via unnamed sources that initial reports of Styles' casting were "premature" and that the former One Direction band member had, indeed, "made the decision to move on amicably."
At the time, the trade publication also disclosed that Disney had already begun its search for a new prince and that "a decision should come shortly." Weeks later, Little Mermaid stans still don't know who will play Ariel's one true love, though. Even so, that's not to say that there haven't been plenty of new casting rumors and wish lists. Among fans' Prince Eric casting suggestions on Twitter: Noah Centineo, Rome Flynn, Alex Landi, and Henry Cavill.
After the news broke, 13 Reasons Why's Christian Navarro tweeted Disney about his desire to throw his hat in the ring for the role, writing, in part, "So I heard Harry Styles passed on Prince Eric, well...I can sing. Black Ariel/Latino Prince..." Turns out, Disney got the message, and Navarro auditioned for the role. As the actor shared on Sept. 3, the studio gave his team a call to see what he could do. "Tapes sent. Fingers crossed. Let’s make some history," he tweeted.
Aside from Bailey's casting as Ariel, there are several other roles already filled for Rob Marshall's remake, which will feature some classic tunes from the 1989 animated Disney classic, as well as new songs from Alan Menken and Grammy-winner Lin-Manuel Miranda. With production slated to begin in 2020, The Little Mermaid's cast includes Jacob Tremblay (as Flounder) and Awkwafina (as Scuttle), per Variety. On June 28, the publication also reported that Melissa McCarthy will play Ursula, the villainous sea witch.
As for Styles, though, he'll have plenty to keep him busy in the meantime, and, yes, that includes a new album that he's currently putting the finishing touches on. “It’s all about having sex and feeling sad,” he explained in a recent Rolling Stone cover story of the upcoming project "full of the toughest, most soulful songs he’s written yet."
It sounds like a far cry from the G-rated Little Mermaid tunes like "Under the Sea" and "Part of Your World." Suffice it to say that Styles is going in a totally different direction — and now fans know why.