Broadway superstar and Oscar-nominated songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda (Encanto) didn’t mince words when asked what he thought about people online who were upset that Black actress and singer Halle Bailey had been cast to play the title role in Disney’s upcoming live-action version of The Little Mermaid.
“I’m not interested in giving them any oxygen because I know the lives that are going to be changed,” Miranda told Variety during the L’Attitude conference this past weekend in San Diego. “Halle is perfect for the part. She is going to blow them away. If that’s the thing that makes you mad, then stay mad. But examine your choices.”
In the live-action remake, Miranda has teamed up with composer Alan Menken, who won two Academy Awards in 1990 for the original film’s score and for the song “Under the Sea.” He told Variety earlier this year that for the new movie, he and Menken “wrote three or four original tunes, replacing none of the ones you like. All of those are in.”
At the L’Attitude conference, Miranda also referenced the 1997 movie version of Cinderella starring Black singer Brandy when discussing Bailey in her The Little Mermaid role. “I’m old enough to remember [1997’s Cinderella] being a game changer for my generation,” Miranda said. “And Rob Marshall was the choreographer on that [movie] and is now the director of the [live-action remake]. I’m really thrilled by that symmetry.”
Along with writing new music for the upcoming film, there are rumors that Miranda might have a role in the movie, too. Nothing has been confirmed, but word is that he might be playing Chef Louie, the frustrated cook who tears apart his kitchen trying to catch an elusive Sebastian. Imagine Miranda singing “Les Poissons” and swinging a mallet over his head. If Bailey is an example of perfect casting, then Lin-Manuel Miranda as Chef Louie wouldn’t be far behind.
The Little Mermaid is scheduled to hit theaters on May 26, 2023.