Harry Styles is world-famous thanks to having been part of the ultra-successful boy band One Direction, and he has dabbled in acting, having played Alex in Christopher Nolan’s war movie ‘Dunkirk’. It would seem that a starring role as Prince Eric in Disney’s upcoming ‘Little Mermaid’ live-action adaptation would be right up his alley. It would play to his strength as a singer and cement him as an actor. After all ‘The Little Mermaid’ is pretty much a guaranteed hit, considering that this year alone, ‘Aladdin’ and ‘The Lion King’ have both made over $1 billion at the box office. From there, he would have his pick of film roles.
But that isn’t his focus and that’s why he turned the part down. Speaking to The Face, Styles stated:
“It was discussed. 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.”
Styles was 14 when he tried out for the British version of the competition ‘The X-Factor’. The show’s creator Simon Cowell matched him with four other young male competitors, forming the boy band One Direction. They were an immediate sensation and sold 50 million albums worldwide, with Harry being the breakout heartthrob of the group. However, after such monumental success in such a short period of time, One Direction went on indefinite hiatus in 2016.
Styles released his first solo album in 2017, and it debuted at #1 in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and Ireland. It sold over a million copies worldwide, and the first single “Sign of the Times” was a #1 hit in the UK and Australia. It hit #4 in the US but was not a radio hit. Two subsequent singles flopped in all markets.
So despite his success with One Direction, Styles hasn’t firmly established himself as an in-demand solo artist. So it makes sense for him to want to focus on that aspect of his career. But there is one role he lobbied hard for– Elvis. Styles backed out of starring in ‘The Little Mermaid’ after losing out on the role of the King in Baz Luhrman’s upcoming biopic. (Austin Butler won the part.)
“[Elvis] was such an icon for me growing up. There was something almost sacred about him, almost like I didn’t want to touch him. Then I ended up getting into [his life] a bit and I wasn’t disappointed. I feel like if I’m not the right person for the thing, then it’s best for both of us that I don’t do it, you know?”
So for now, Styles will focus on what he is best known for.
At this point, only one cast member of ‘The Little Mermaid’ is confirmed, with Halle Bailey set to play Ariel.
‘The Little Mermaid’ is set to begin production in April 2020.