ET spoke with 'The Little Mermaid' stars Melissa McCarthy and Javier Bardem about their iconic characters and their leading star.
Disney's live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid boasts a star-studded cast that loves one thing even more than working together -- talking about their time working together!
Speaking with ET's Nischelle Turner ahead of the film's May 26 release, Melissa McCarthy and Javier Bardem, who portray Ursula and King Triton, respectively, couldn't help but gush about their leading lady, Halle Bailey.
When asked about their favorite song from the new film, Bardem can't help but praise Bailey's rendition of Princess Ariel's iconic tune, "Part of Your World."
"What she does with her voice in that song, it's very special. And also, it's the first song in the movie," he notes. McCarthy echoes the sentiment, adding that she is "so proud" of her co-star for "the young woman that she is and the strength she played that with."
"I'm telling you, it's like I almost get choked up. When she finishes that song, I literally burst out crying, I was clapping, I was breathing weirdly and I literally wanted to stand up and be like, 'It's not just 'cause you are an amazing actress. It's not because your voice is from another planet, it [is you],'" she recalls. "It was how she chose to portray that strong, yet vulnerable woman. And I think it's a game changer and I think kids are going to look up to her and be like, 'That is me. I can do anything. I can choose the course of my destiny.' I think she just played it with such incredible strength and vulnerability at the same time, that was perfect."
After the first trailer for the upcoming film was released, videos began circulating on social media that showed numerous Black girls "blind reacting" to the live-action trailer, which included a seconds-long glimpse at the new Ariel swimming under the sea and singing the song "Part of Your World."
Bardem said that Bailey has more than Ariel's spirit, she has an energy that's impossible to miss. "She has this thing where you cannot take your eyes off her. She has this aura. She has this beautiful glimpse all over her that you are born with it or you're not. And she has it," he shares.
"Being around [Bailey], it is an experience and privilege, I think, to be in her glow," McCarthy adds. "Because she leads with kindness, she leads with integrity and I think we can't shine the light on that more. Like, we need it."
Meanwhile, ET spoke with the new Disney princess herself, who shared her emotional response to seeing little girls seeing themselves in her rendition of the beloved character.
"It's been such a beautiful moment for me to be able to see the reactions of the babies -- it makes me just emotionally overwhelmed honestly, and I cry as soon as I watch them," Bailey admits. "I think of the little girl that's still in me, honestly, and it heals that girl inside of me to watch them feel like they have representation and someone to look to, to know that they deserve to be in those places too. [It's] so important. It just makes me cry anytime I see any of those videos."
Bailey shared that director Rob Marshall went beyond simply casting her for representation -- he gave her the reins to stay true to herself while portraying Ariel. From pushing for Ariel to have locks as her signature red mane to Bailey changing keys or notes in the music to fit her voice.
"I think naturally, I just really tried my best to stay true to myself with every choice that I would make in acting, especially in the songs," Bailey says. "I was really grateful to Rob Marshall that he gave me the freedom to just be me and sing how Halle would sing. And some of those inflections and riffs I was allowed to do -- that was fun to be able to play because the original music that we have is so beautiful and such a staple in all of our childhoods; the fact that I got to tweak and edit it a little bit was like so much fun and a joy to have that creative freedom."
The singer explained that she "jumped an octave higher" when singing her rendition of "Part of Your World," and to make it more of her own song, as well as adding lines to the Sebastian-led song, "Under the Sea."
"Moments like those are really fun when you get to sing with your favorite songs," she notes.
The Little Mermaid swims into theaters on May 26.