After Disney cast Halle Bailey as Ariel in Disney's live-action remake of The Little Mermaid, all eyes were on who would portray Prince Eric. Rumors were swirling that music icon Harry Styles was in talks for the role, but director Rob Marshall has confirmed in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that Styles ultimately declined the offer.

“We met with him. He was lovely. What a wonderful guy,” Marshall said of Styles, 29. “But at the end of the day, he really felt like he wanted to go off and do the movies that he ended up doing, which were sort of darker.”

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Styles, who gained fame as a member of the boy band One Direction before launching a successful solo career, has been branching out into acting in recent years. In 2022, he starred in two movies: Don't Worry Darling with Florence Pugh and Chris Pine, and My Policeman with David Dawson and Emma Corrin.

Marshall explained that Styles was looking to challenge himself and not be solely associated with his musical background. “For a lot of young musical people like Harry, you're trying to carve your way and you don't wanna be seen as a singer, necessarily,” Marshall said. “That's why he was really looking to do something not in the musical genre, to really stretch himself.”

Jonah Hauer-King is Prince Eric

In the end, Marshall cast Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric, opposite Halle Bailey's Ariel. Hauer-King, 27, described how Bailey had knocked on his trailer door, wished him luck, and expressed hope of seeing him again after they auditioned together. Furthermore, the actor admitted he initially didn't take it as a sign, but the two became close friends during the filming process.

All parties involved in selecting King feel confident they ended up with the right prince. Regardless if Styles would have attracted more eyes to the film, fans should still be excited when they head to theaters on May 26, 2023, to watch this live-action remake.