Halle Bailey spent most of her time up in the air instead of under the sea while filming “The Little Mermaid.” In a recent Q&A video posted to her YouTube channel, in which she answered fan questions, the singer and actor explained that preparing for her role as Princess Ariel involved months of “intense physical training” and behind-the-scenes acrobatics.
“I was in intense physical training for three months and then every single day I’d either be up on wires and a harness or I’d be in the water all day,” Bailey said in response to a question asking what the hardest part of playing Ariel was. “It was super exciting but my body was like — that was probably the hardest [part], and the most in shape I’ve ever been in my life. That was the toughest part, I think – having to be that strong.”
“Filming underwater was so much fun, but it was kind of brief, honestly, because most of the time I was on wires and in the air.”
In the trailer for the upcoming live-action Disney film, Bailey can be seen navigating the ocean waters with a brilliant, iridescent tail, performing elaborate twirls and gracefully swimming through her secret grotto. Take away the CGI and green screen effects, and countless wires are involved to bring the magical, undersea moments to life — plus some major ab strength. To soar through the air with the grace of a mermaid — and no sea water to offer any buoyancy — takes a lot of strength, and we have no doubt that months of filming as a half-human, half-fish would be a serious workout.
While training was strenuous, Bailey had fun during filming and even got to take a dip in some actual water for a few scenes — although less often than you might think. “Filming underwater was so much fun, but it was kind of brief, honestly, because most of the time I was on wires and in the air, and in kind of what they call a tuning fork, where I would swim in the air,” she said. “It kind of simulated being in Ariel’s grotto so that’s kind of where I spent most of my time, but for the times I would be underwater, it was crazy. I was in this huge water tank and they had this wave machine that would go. I can’t wait until you guys actually see it so you know what I’m talking about, but it felt like I was in the middle of the ocean.”
Watch the full video above to hear Bailey discuss what it was like to film as Ariel, how she coped with being away from her sister, Chlöe, for nine months while shooting, and her plans to release a solo album.