Harry Styles Turned Down ‘The Little Mermaid’ to Pursue ‘Darker’ Roles, Says Director Rob Marshall

"He was really looking to do something not in the musical genre, to really stretch himself," director Marshall said.
Harry Styles at the 2023 BRIT Awards
Harry Styles at the 2023 BRIT Awards

Harry Styles didn’t want to be part of “The Little Mermaid” world as his film movie career sprung legs.

The “Don’t Worry Darling” actor was originally in talks to be cast as Prince Eric in the live-action retelling of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.” However, the Grammy winner eventually turned down the role.

“We met with him. He was lovely. What a wonderful guy,” Marshall told Entertainment Weekly. “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.”

Styles starred in psychological thriller “Don’t Worry Darling” and queer romance “My Policeman,” which both debuted in 2022.

“For a lot of young musical people like Harry, you’re trying to carve your way and you don’t want to be seen as a singer, necessarily,” Marshall added. “That’s why he was really looking to do something not in the musical genre, to really stretch himself. It was really a fun idea to play with, but in the end, I always think things happen for a reason. I’m so happy to have two young, new people in the film.”

British actor Jonah Hauer-King, who appeared in the BBC limited series “The Little Women,” landed the role of Prince Eric opposite Grammy-nominated singer Halle Bailey as Ariel.

In addition to Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” Styles was in the running to play Elvis Presley for Baz Luhrmann’s Oscar-nominated epic “Elvis.” Director Luhrmann revealed that while Styles and “Top Gun: Maverick” star Miles Teller were both considered to play Presley, he was hesitant to cast such a global icon like Styles.

“Harry is a really talented actor. I would work on something with him [but] the real issue with Harry is, he’s Harry Styles,” Luhrmann said. “He’s already an icon.”

The “Moulin Rouge” director continued, “Harry and I came to a place, genuinely I mean, he was just desperate to put the suit on and explore. He’s such a great spirit and I have nothing but great things to say about Harry Styles.”

Styles was additionally linked to Robert Eggers’ upcoming “Nosferatu” remake before he dropped out due to tour scheduling conflicts. Styles wasn’t going to be a vampire but instead approached to play Hutter, the main protagonist. Nicholas Hoult is instead believed to be taking over the part, with Bill Skarsgård as Dracula and Lily-Rose Depp as the woman he haunts. Willem Dafoe and Aaron Taylor-Johnson round out the cast.

Styles has since said that he is not seeking out more film roles, telling Rolling Stone, “I don’t imagine I’d do a movie for a while. A large part of acting is the doing nothing, waiting thing. Which if that’s the worst part, then it’s a pretty good job. But I don’t find that section of it to be that fulfilling. I like doing it in the moment, but I don’t think I’ll do it a lot.”

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