Halle Bailey Says She Filmed 'The Little Mermaid' in Water for 13 Hours Some Days: 'Pushed Myself'

Disney's live-action The Little Mermaid dives into theaters May 26

Halle Bailey as Ariel in Disney's live-action THE LITTLE MERMAID. Photo courtesy of Disney. © 2022 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Halle Bailey as Ariel in The Little Mermaid (2023). Photo: Disney

Halle Bailey got her fins wet as Ariel in Disney's upcoming live-action The Little Mermaid.

While speaking with Edition Modern Luxury for a feature interview published Monday, Bailey, 22, said she spent as many as 13 hours a day filming scenes in the water while on set in London for the upcoming family film.

"I pushed myself as far as I've ever pushed myself in life," Bailey told the outlet. "And I feel like the message from her was to know that you've always had it in you."

Bailey, who also revealed that she first watched Disney's 1989 original The Little Mermaid around age five, said she is "really excited for my version of the film" after the studio made changes to ensure the character's motivation to leave the ocean behind don't just involve falling in love.

"We've definitely changed that perspective of just her wanting to leave the ocean for a boy," she said. "It's way bigger than that. It's about herself, her purpose, her freedom, her life and what she wants.

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"As women we are amazing, we are independent, we are modern, we are everything and above," Bailey added to Edition Modern Luxury. "And I'm glad that Disney is updating some of those themes."

The actress recently teamed up with costar Melissa McCarthy, who plays Ursula in the upcoming film, to unveil the official The Little Mermaid trailer at the 95th Academy Awards on March 12. Back in Sept. 2022, Bailey told PEOPLE at the D23 Expo that the "whole experience of filming" the movie "in more ways than one, mirrored Ariel's journey of finding herself and her voice."

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"I remember at the end of filming, wrap day, I was just sobbing because I truly felt like I had come out of this cocoon with Ariel," Bailey, who was first cast as Ariel in 2019, said at the time.

"This story has done so much for me and the filming process has really kind of changed my life," she told PEOPLE. "I'd definitely say it mirrored what Ariel goes through in the film."

In addition to Bailey and McCarthy, the film also stars Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric, Javier Bardem as King Triton, Jacob Tremblay as Ariel's fish BFF Flounder, Daveed Diggs as the crab Sebastian, and Awkwafina as the seagull Scuttle. The live-action adaptation features music from Lin-Manuel Miranda and renowned composer Alan Menken, who wrote music for the original The Little Mermaid film alongside the late Howard Ashman.

The Little Mermaid dives into theaters on May 26, 2023.

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