‘Little Mermaid’ director Rob Marshall, star Halle Bailey praise original Ariel Jodi Benson’s cameo in new film: ‘Dream come true’

Posted May 29, 2023 by: Admin #News

The enchantment of Disney’s latest live-action rendition of The Little Mermaid extends beyond Halle Bailey’s captivating performance of “Part of Your World” and other beloved musical numbers like “Under the Sea” and “Poor Unfortunate Souls.” While audiences cheer for these dazzling moments, there is a cameo appearance that might escape the notice of some theatergoers. (The film, opening to an astonishing $118 million over the holiday weekend, has taken the world by storm.)


During Ariel (played by Bailey) and Eric’s (portrayed by Jonah Hauer-King) delightful journey through a bustling coastal market, a friendly merchant offers Ariel a peculiar item: a fork, known affectionately as a dinglehopper by her feathered friend Scuttle (played by Awkwafina). What makes this scene truly special is the identity of the merchant – none other than Jodi Benson, the beloved actress who lent her voice to Ariel in the original 1989 animated film.


When asked about the serendipitous cameo, director Rob Marshall shares, “Jodi is an old friend, and I’ve known her for a long time. We worked together in the theater years ago, during a production of Chess in Casa Mañana, Texas [in 1991]. So I’ve had the pleasure of knowing her for decades. Jodi is not only a talented artist, but also a warm and beautiful person. Producer John DeLuca and I felt it was only fitting to find a place for Jodi in this film. We wanted it to feel organic and not forced. The market scene seemed perfect. There are vendors and sellers, and it just made sense.”

“The script already had a scene where someone hands Ariel a fork, and that fork holds a special place in Ariel’s story,” Marshall continues. “So, we thought, ‘What if Jodi hands her the fork, the dinglehopper?’ It felt like a natural fit. We wanted to give Jodi something small yet significant. Her immediate embrace of this film and Halle’s casting was incredibly generous. That’s the kind of person she is – generous and spirited. Having her on set with us was truly extraordinary, especially for Halle.”


Bailey, beaming with joy, confirms the magic of their encounter. “It was a dream come true for me because Jodi Benson’s voice has been the soundtrack of our lives for so long,” she shares. “I felt a responsibility to make her proud and to honor the film’s devoted fans. Jodi said the kindest words to me, expressing how proud she is and that she believes I am here for a reason. I am immensely grateful for her support. Knowing that I have her backing makes me feel like I’ve made the original Ariel proud. That means the world to me.”

Hauer-King, sharing in the sentiment, adds, “It was incredibly special, even for me. Seeing the connection between Halle and Jodi was beautiful. This film is all about reimagining while respecting the original. Witnessing them together was truly magical because both of them embody Ariel in their own unique ways. It’s an experience that will stay with me forever.”


The reunion of Jodi Benson and the new cast of The Little Mermaid is a testament to the enduring legacy of this timeless tale. It showcases the seamless blend of old and new, creating an unforgettable cinematic experience filled with nostalgia and wonder. As audiences revel in the magic of this beloved story, they can rejoice in the harmonious bond between past and present, brought to life by the talented individuals who have captured our hearts both then and now.


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