Original The Little Mermaid Ariel actress Jodi Benson defends Halle Bailey casting

Halle Bailey and Jodi Benson.
Halle Bailey and Jodi Benson. Photo credit: Instagram / Halle Bailey / Getty.

The actress who voiced Ariel in the 1989 animated film The Little Mermaid has defended Disney's casting choice for their upcoming live-action remake.

The announcement earlier this month, that R&B singer Halle Bailey had been cast as Ariel for the upcoming film was met with a polarised reaction, with many noting Ariel had white skin in the animated classic in line with the story's Danish origins. 

However, according to Comicbook.com, the woman who voiced that version of the character has come to Bailey's defence saying that it doesn't matter what Ariel looks like, as long as the spirit of the character is retained. 

"The most important thing is to tell the story. And we have, as a family, we have raised our children, and for ourselves, that we don't see anything that's different on the outside," Jodi Benson told Florida Supercon on Saturday (local time).

"I think that the spirit of a character is what really matters. What you bring to the table in a character as far as their heart, and their spirit, is what really counts.

"And the outside package — cause let's face it, I'm really, really old — and so when I'm singing 'Part of Your World,' if you were to judge me on the way that I look on the outside, it might change the way that you interpret the song. But if you close your eyes, you can still hear the spirit of Ariel."

In a statement about the casting, the upcoming film's director Rob Marshall said Bailey had been a clear frontrunner. 

"It was abundantly clear that Halle possesses that rare combination of spirit, heart, youth, innocence, and substance - plus a glorious singing voice - all intrinsic qualities necessary to play this iconic role."


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