This post is in partnership with LD Entertainment and The Little Mermaid. All opinions are my own.
We grew up with the classic fairytale story of The Little Mermaid and now there’s a new twist on the beloved story. Opening this Friday in AMC Theaters, The Little Mermaid shares all of the magic from the original plot but with new twists. I had an opportunity to watch the film already and fell in love with the time setting and Southern roots they added.
The movie introduced me to new talent, along with a personal favorite of mine – Shirley MacLaine. Check out my interview with the stars of the Little Mermaid: Poppy Drayton, William Moseley and Armando Gutierrez, as well as the director Blake Harris and Producer Robert Molley. I learned about what it took to get the story on the big screen, some of the inspiration behind the new plot and behind-the-scenes information.
Cast Interview With The Stars Of The Little Mermaid
Q: Blake and Robert, how did you guys come in to come to this script and decide to make this film?
Blake: I had always wanted to do a mermaid movie.
Robert: They were talking about putting together this kind of family film they didn’t really know yet what topic they wanted to explore. And I guess you guys fell in love with it. Little Mermaid came to my attention …. I should read the script and you know it’s great. And I read it and then I just fell in love with it right. There’s a great story and it’s true to the book.
Blake: It kind of just took a life of its own after that. I always loved kind of telling these big aspirational stories where you know that the eve of the world the needs of the world just looking at it from a kid’s point of view what kind of adventure you could go on if you meet something that is you know something that you believe to not exist but yet it really does. And that was kind of the beginning point. I think that was the part that a lot of people kind of rallied around and you know the fact that there aren’t a lot of family films outside of Disney and outside of the big superhero movies like Will was talking about earlier. So it was kind of right time right place and things just kind of all came together.
Q: William and Poppy, tell everyone how you came onto this movie.
Poppy: I got an e-mail from my agent and I read the script and I immediately fell in love with it. I thought it was a beautiful story and there was so many really whimsical magical moments in it that captured my imagination and as soon as I finished it I called my agent and went “I’d love to be in it” and it was like instant and then we just flew out and I joined the team and that was it really and the rest went from there.
William: It was a very similar experience for me. I read the script and instantly I knew. I was fortunate enough that I started my career with the Chronicles of Narnia franchise and I felt that the story had a lot of similarity in the fact that it’s a little girl with her belief in this mermaid. There was these magical elements to it and you know I felt there were dynamics and there were story elements that were very similar that I had that I felt that I could play. I called my manager and I said I really want to do this. We want to be a part of the story. Rob and Blake then brought me onto the film and I think the script speaks for itself. We all fell in love with it and that was really Blake’s vision and on his story that has made this film what it is.
Q: William, you play a big brother and a caretaker in this film obviously and it’s such a touching relationship. Tell us about developing the relationship with Loreto Peralta who plays your Niece in the film.
William: You know I am the oldest of three. I have a younger brother and youngest sister. I always try to think about what it would be like if this is my sister or my brother. If this was a family member of mine and then you don’t really have to say much you know you’re just in it – you know you just feel like you’re with your own siblings. And that’s when those fortunate things with the story that you know connects with you. Your own life. That was what I thought about when I was working with the rest of it. And fortunately she was such a lovely actress and a lovely person and the family was so, so great. It was it was a very easy symbiotic relationship.
Q: Did you spend a lot of time with her when you weren’t shooting as well?
William: I did. It was really fun. You know we had a lot of fun on the film, we went off on adventures and we visited things and it was fun to open a children’s story – as opposed to like a horror film… I enjoyed our time and play.
Blake: Can I add something here? I just remember even the table read before before Poppy’s joining… And Poppy has a really interesting story about getting her visa…. But I remember the first kind of table read when we were all anticipating your arrival. And you and Loreto just read it, just connected and then you could just feel that that family dynamic between the two of them…. But for a for you guys it’s actually the niece and that it still had such, such a big brother/sister dynamic too because of the age differences and things like that and you could just feel that they were family from the second that they started to read. That family dynamic remains the same regardless – whether it was a sister, whether it was anything – they had that kind of bond where they were clearly close because as Will was saying, you know he was her caretaker.
Robert: He did take care of her. He was in charge of her. And Will did such a great job bringing that care to the life and you could just see kindness with her having that illness; the worry behind his eyes and just you know wanting to take care of and wanting to do anything possible to heal her… You know with meeting Poppy, being the mermaid and Elizabeth, and to go on this journey is magic for healing and discovering this is real.
Blake: It just brought such a dynamic to it all. With Will and Poppy and Loreto. All three of them were just so phenomenal. We couldn’t have been blessed with a better cast.
Q: Poppy, tell us the story about getting your visa.
Poppy: I think that we had some issues with my visa so I wasn’t I wasn’t able to make it out early and I think everyone said that it can’t go well and it might not have been as good of a story.
Blake: But on our side when we were all there eagerly awaiting her arrival and we had to actually rearrange scenes and push back because the visa had not been approved quick enough, there was a moment we were like really scared! Yeah, we were making a mermaid movie without a mermaid until she until she did show up. And then you know everything just seemed like it came it came to light.
Q: Poppy, How did you prepare for your role?
Poppy: I mean, I thank my local pool. Every day for two months before I started because I wanted to get really, really proficient at something and I was okay beforehand and typically wasn’t great. But I then got really, really good. And I would go up and down for hours just like a mermaid would… So I would go to my local pool and bring money. And one day one of the lifeguards said that I wasn’t allowed to use it and I just kind of was like, “Is there anyone I can hire who can make this happen? Can I please practice because I’m going to be a mermaid in like two months!” And they were initially kind of hesitant and then I went to the manager and the manager was like “OK, don’t worry I understand. I got you.”
Blake: Once you get in the set by the water you take the weight of the tail. When you add water it’s very heavy because it’s a full prosthetic that is incredibly made by hand. They filled the tail with that silicone or something into a mold and then they hand painted them over that, right? And then it had been taken out. So they were a masterpiece – the tails – and would fill very heavy.
Poppy: There were two tails total.
William: I think it’s important to recall that we didn’t use CGI in this film.
Q: William, how did you prepare for the period role? Did you use any artistic license for your character because of the time period?
William: You know I I’m English anyway. I think this is sort of like a traditional thing that comes to the English people… What is interesting is people are people no matter what era you’re in, if you’re at an age of twelve or a hundred or whatever, human emotions are always human emotions and that’s what drives a story. Really I just focused on what my heart wanted and what my emotions my character felt for his niece and then I really enjoyed the process because Blake was such a great director. His vision was so clear he was so calm he was so helpful. And I felt like we saw eye to eye on everything that we that we did. And we really did. From day one. I didn’t feel I had to really work at anything like that. You know Poppy and I got to feel very safe in the environment in which Blake created. And the same with Rob you know you know they both had a great humility to approach to filmmaking. As Rob mentioned, they both gave us an environment where we could just be ourselves and be our characters and we felt very free and very open.
Q: What was the most difficult part about shooting the film?
Poppy: So if my tail was taken out of the water, the tail would put quite a lot of strain on my ankles. So it was sort of a slow-down and my ankle could be in quite a little pain. So we learned pretty early on that it was quite good to keep me in the water as much as possible provided that I didn’t get hypothermia and die.
I think a lot of the challenge was with an indie movie, just the amount of days that we had were insane start to finish and if we did not have the cast that we had that were they were such incredible troopers going out there and just riding with it all and you know on it a pretty picture you have so many rollercoaster moments of just trying to do you know trying to achieve the unachievable. And yes because of the weather a lot of the time you get a lot of thunderstorms. We were in Savannah, Georgia, and this summer and it means well it was much a much and so there was a lot of kind of tropical thunderstorm that stopped filming for a little while and I remember there was one time we were meant to be shooting and it was chucking down and I remember Blake I were just like trapped in this car as the rain was thrashing down.
Q: What are your favorite scenes?
Poppy: One of my favorite days was when we actually came down to Tampa and we filmed at Weeki Wachee, the mermaid theme park down here, and it was such a fun day. We just jumped in the water and the water was beautiful – it’s like a peaceful natural spring. And it is a beautiful ecosystem down there and real fish and turtles and manatees and in some of the shots I’ll just be swimming along and I look behind me and maybe a little turtle just following me and following my tail and just stuff like that which was really special to experience.
Q: Did you guys feel any added pressure being in a movie that has been done many times before?
Blake: Who doesn’t love Disney’s version of The Little Mermaid? I mean it’s such a beautiful film. And you know it has so much aspiration to it, so much magic, so much heart to it. The music — everything is so incredible. John Brunner. Amazing directors … I think everyone loves that movie so there is some degree of expectation with it, but I think ours was so different. I think the take of creating this kind of telling with other aspirational elements like a traveling circus and what magic might be there and things that you perceived as not real were real… we just kind of took it in such a different direction. You know one of the big inspirations for this is the little princess movie from the early to mid 90s. And so I think there was some expectation with it obviously but this one of a kind, a little bit more off of Hans Christian Andersen’s book and it kind of picks up where that book ends. We kind of pick up and reimagine a new beginning with it. I think it’s so different from Disney’s version and is kind of a continuum. You know that one’s kind of reimagining the actual material of Hans Christian Andersen whereas ours is kind of a continuation of that story. So they’re just they’re just very different.
Q: How much research did you guys have to prepare for your role? Where did you go to research?
Poppy: I did end up researching fish which is fascinating. And the movement of dolphins. I put a lot of research into that. I just kind of swamped myself in a lot of Blue Planet — don’t know if you guys watched Blue Planet but I was obsessed with that for a long time … And yeah I really tried it to investigate the fish world as much as possible which sounds really weird but I did. I got really into it.
It was just my own self-directed research that I did in my flat back in London and I did go to the pet shop one time and hung out with the fish; I did!
Q: Armando, why don’t you tell us what it was like to be an actor and a producer — a villain and a producer?
Armando: Too much work! I think Rob and Blake had enough of me by the end! It’s fun. I enjoyed the challenge. The movie was totally worth it. It’s one of those things that from day one we all want just to create. It’s just a fun journey. Every day was different. Challenging. And it’s just finding the answers.
The Little Mermaid Opens This Friday In AMC Theaters – Check Your Local Movie Show Times!
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