Ariel Love: Jodi Benson Literally Passes the Dinglehopper to Halle Bailey

in Disney, Entertainment

ariel smiles at a dinglehopper little mermaid jodi benson

Credit: Disney

There was a lot of controversy when Halle Bailey was first cast as Ariel, amongst which lurked a lot of complaints that she didn’t look exactly like the original Ariel – voice actor or hand-drawn.

Jodi Benson, however, would not hear of these complaints. She responded to the backlash back in 2019:

I think that the spirit of a character is what really matters. What you bring to the table in a character as far as their heart, and their spirit, is what really counts. And the outside package — cause let’s face it, I’m really, really old — and so when I’m singing ‘Part of Your World,’ if you were to judge me on the way that I look on the outside, it might change the way that you interpret the song. But if you close your eyes, you can still hear the spirit of Ariel.

Ariel in 'The Little Mermaid' singing "Part of Your World"
Credit: Disney

Related: ‘The Little Mermaid’ Could Break The Box Office

The star has kept up her support since then – she was there at the LA premiere of The Little Mermaid to exchange a touching moment with the new Ariel, and she also sang her praises on Instagram back in September when she first saw a cut of the film:

Halle, you were absolutely amazing! I’m SO proud of you & your beautiful performance as Ariel.

Little did we know, back then, Benson had already given a much larger stamp of approval to Halle Bailey.

Jodi Benson Has a Sweet Cameo With the New Ariel

Halle Bailey as Ariel in live-action The Little Mermaid
Credit: Disney

Related: Halle Bailey’s Little Mermaid Officially Takes Over at Disney Parks

Those who were thinking that the new Little Mermaid wouldn’t pay homage to the old Ariel at all were probably being silly – not least of which because director Rob Marshall has been good friends with Jodi Benson for over 30 years; she starred in his Broadway directorial debut in 1990.

It was just a huge thrill for me when Robbie reached out. I’m like, ‘Of course I’m gonna come! I don’t care what I’m doing. I just can’t wait to get around the set and watch all of you work. It was just pure joy for me.

It was also probably a joy because her role involved mixing a pot of beans and rice on an outdoor set, and the heater at her feat meant everybody loved to gather around her pot between takes. There’s nothing like literally providing warmth with your presence, and Benson clearly does it in more ways than one.

The cameo itself takes place in the kingdom’s marketplace, where Ariel is being exposed to all manner of human things for the first time. One of those things is street food – but when Jodi Benson hands Halle Bailey’s Ariel a plate of food and a fork to eat it with, Ariel uses it to start brushing her hair, much to everybody’s confusion.

That’s right: Jodi Benson literally passes the dinglehopper to Halle Bailey.

ariel smiles at a dinglehopper little mermaid
Credit: Disney

Related: ‘The Little Mermaid’: Ariel’s Decision To Give Up Her Voice Was Never About Eric

The scene in the movie originally happens at Eric’s dinner table, but Marshall felt that this isn’t something a dinner guest would do before a meal, even if she did think her fork was a hairbrush.

This scene allowed a moment for the sweet cameo to breathe, and, he said, made more sense for the version of Ariel they were working with.

Aside from Halle Bailey, who went as far as to ask Benson to sing “Part of Your World” on the set, Marshall was probably the happiest to have Benson there. Getting her there to film during the heart of the COVID-19 lockdowns wasn’t easy and required a lot of extra precaution, but he was dedicated to the symbolic meaning behind it.

The beauty of Jodi is that she’s so open-hearted and excited about this Ariel living alongside her Ariel. They’re both there forever now. 

You can see both the old and new Ariel on screen side by side now: The Little Mermaid is in theaters everywhere today.
What do you think of Jodi Benson’s cameo in the live-action Little Mermaid? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments.

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