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Live-action Little Mermaid: Javier Bardem in talks to play King Triton

Javier Bardem might become part of Disney's world. 

According to a recent report by Deadline, Bardem is in talks to play King Triton in the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid, directed by Into the Woods and Mary Poppins Returns filmmaker Rob Marshall. 

The Oscar-winning actor hasn't yet signed a deal with the House of Mouse for The Little Mermaid re-imagining, but if the moment does come where Bardem is inking his signature on a fat stack of contract papers, he'll be agreeing to star opposite Halle Bailey as the curious water-fairy Ariel, King Triton's 16-year-old daughter who wants more than anything to walk on land and mingle with humans. Bardem may also share the screen with Melissa McCarthy, who's up for the role of the sinister sea witch Ursula, and Harry Styles, the singer-turned-actor reportedly in consideration to portray Eric, the human prince Ariel falls in love with. 

In the original Little Mermaid from 1989, King Triton isn't the greatest dude. Sure, he's the ruler of Atlantica and the protector of an entire kingdom of mer-people, so he has leadership skills going for him, but he also has what doctors would refer to as "a little bit of an anger problem." Though King Triton clearly loves Ariel — as well as his older daughters Aquata, Andrina, Arista, Attina, Adella, and Alana — he's overprotective, strict, stubborn, and even misanthropic when he speaks poorly of Eric and other humans. The trident-wielding royal eventually softens and evolves, and later entries into the Little Mermaid film series, including the direct-to-video sequel The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, have shown more of King Triton's tender side. Still, it will take someone with the ability to be rough and gruff to truly capture King Triton's spirit in the Little Mermaid remake — and given Bardem's history of playing characters born on the wrong side of the tracks, he seems a natural fit for the character. 

Response to Bardem potentially joining The Little Mermaid has largely been wonderful, with fans writing on social media that he's a "perfect choice" for the part. Some are particularly pleased that Bardem could portray King Triton in the flick because it means that the live-action Ariel will be mixed-race. Lead actress Bailey is black, while Bardem is Hispanic, suggesting that the actress who would play Ariel's mother Queen Athena (who died before the events of The Little Mermaid) would be black as well. 

On the flip side, some are upset that Ariel wouldn't be fully black if Bardem is cast as King Triton, as it would take away the impact of such an important casting choice in Bailey. 

It seems everyone is getting ahead of themselves, though, as nothing official has come from Disney on the "Bardem is playing King Triton" front. We'll have to wait for an announcement from the Mouse House to see if Bardem will actually wear the crown in The Little Mermaid, or if another actor will dive down and take the underwater throne. 

The live-action Little Mermaid is without a release date at this time.