As audiences sit down to enjoy Disney’s latest live-action reimagining with The Little Mermaid in a matter of days, British hospital soap fans will be in for a particular treat.
The new movie stars Grammy nominee Halle Bailey in the titular role alongside Little Women star Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric and Hollywood heavyweights Javier Bardem and Melissa McCarthy as King Triton and Ursula, respectively.
Ariel’s sidekicks are all present and correct too in Sebastian (Daveed Diggs), Flounder (Jacob Trembay) and Scuttle (Awkwafina).
However, the cast also features expanded roles for smaller characters from the original 1989 animation, and new parts altogether.
Art Malik appears in the reimagined role of Grimsby – now prime minister – Martina Laird plays new character Lashana, who works in Eric’s castle, and Noma Dumezweni takes on Eric’s mother, who didn’t appear in the original Disney film either.
With Malik and Laird onscreen together as members of Eric’s household it also provides a fun Holby City Hospital reunion for soap fans.
Laird was paramedic Comfort Jones on Casualty from 2001 until 2006, while Malik appeared as consultant anaesthetist Zubin Khan on Casualty spin-off Holby City from 2003 to 2005.
Both soaps share the same setting, the fictional Holby City Hospital, and each character appeared in memorable storylines – Zubin embarked on a secret relationship with his best friend’s daughter, while the popular Comfort was a devout Catholic who got divorced from her husband.
While it might have seemed a fun reunion on set for the two former soap stars, Malik confirmed that their paths had never actually crossed until The Little Mermaid, despite the two soaps’ fondness for crossover episodes during their time with [email protected] City.
‘Never! We didn’t even work [together] on that! I think I left it, well, nearly 20 years ago,’ he said, speaking exclusively to Metro.co.uk at the film’s UK premiere.
Discussing Grimsby’s more important standing in The Little Mermaid, he added: ‘I mean, what can you say when they make you Prime Minister? You go, “Thank you very much. What do I have to do? Oh, look after the prince. No worries”.’
There was also a pull for the 70-year-old actor thanks to the film, which filmed on location in Sardinia, shooting its interiors at Pinewood Studios
‘That’s where I did my first film nearly 40 years ago and it was lovely to suddenly see something huge and big and wonderful – oh, it’s great! I just wish I’d been able to see more of the crew’s faces because we filmed it in lockdown, so everyone was masked up,’ he shared.
As to feeling the magic on set, the Borgia and Homeland actor certainly did, picking ‘every day’ as his favourite on set.
‘I always feel blessed any time anybody wants me to work between the words action and cut.’
The Little Mermaid splashes into cinemas on Friday, May 26.
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