Harry Styles in talks to play Prince Eric in live-action The Little Mermaid

The ex-One Direction frontman is being touted to star opposite R&B singer Halle Bailey in Disneys new take on the animated romance

Harry Styles is in talks to take on the role of Prince Eric in Disneys live-action remake of The Little Mermaid.

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The former One Direction singer is said to be an early favourite and is currently in discussions with the studio. Styles would star alongside the R&B singer Halle Bailey who will play Ariel and Melissa McCarthy who is rumoured to take on the role of Ursula. The Crazy Rich Asians star Awkwafina and Room breakout Jacob Tremblay are also in talks to feature.

The film, the latest attempt by Disney to update a much-loved animated property, will be directed by Rob Marshall, who recently took on Mary Poppins Returns for the studio. Songs from the original will feature but the original composer, Alan Menken, will also create new numbers with help from Lin-Manuel Miranda.

In the original, the character of Eric, who falls in love with the mermaid Ariel, performed no songs but in the later Broadway musical, he was given two solo numbers.

Styles, who previously appeared in Christopher Nolans Dunkirk, was also on the reported shortlist to play Elvis Presley in Baz Luhrmanns biopic but yesterday saw the announcement that small-screen star Austin Butler would take on the role. Back in March, Prince Eric trended on Twitter after a user suggested that Styles would make the perfect choice for the character.

The Little Mermaid will follow in the footsteps of a long list of mostly successful Disney remakes. This year has seen Guy Ritchies Aladdin make $961m worldwide while Jon Favreaus The Lion King is predicted to take as much as $450m globally in its first weekend when it opens on Friday. But the studio has also faced a disappointing showing for Tim Burtons Dumbo which stumbled with a $352m worldwide tally earlier this year.

Later this year will see a sequel to Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie, while next year sees the release of Mulan.

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