Harry Styles has undergone quite the transformation these past few years. After getting his start on the X Factor and the boy band One Direction (which left more than one kind of cultural mark, as its fanbase will likely go down as one of the most rabid in history), the heartthrob turned to a more mature, sobering solo sound and even graced the silver screen in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. Now, Styles is in early negotiations to play Prince Eric in Disney’s live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid, opposite Halle Bailey’s Ariel. Actors Melissa McCarthy, Jacob Tremblay, and Awkwafina are also in talks to join the cast under the sea.
Director Rob Marshall’s casting choices have already come under fire for one thing or another. Some believe the role of Ursula should have gone to singer Lizzo instead of McCarthy. Others take umbrage with the fact that Ariel, a redhead in the original animation, will be played by a black woman. Some of the complaints are valid, and some are just plain racist. The Little Mermaid adaptation also stands out in its renewed emphasis on musical performance. Although Styles is a musician himself, Prince Eric does not have any of his own songs—except in the Broadway musical that ran over ten years after the 1989 movie.
Styles recently lost out the role of Elvis in an upcoming Baz Luhrmann film to Austin Butler, but a prince isn’t a bad second place to the King. If Styles lands this part, expect a whole new wave of fanfiction.