Styles was one of the names rumored to be taking on the role of the film's prince.
While it was long-rumored that the "As It Was" singer could be taking on the role of Ariel's prince, the part ultimately went to Jonah Hauer-King, and the film's director, Ron Marshall, is explaining why in a new interview with Entertainment Weekly.
While Marshall confirmed he spoke with Styles about playing Eric "once upon a time," he shared that the Don't Worry Darling star "really felt like he wanted to go off and do the movies that he ended up doing, which were sort of darker" than Disney's reimagining of one of its most beloved fairy tales.
As for Hauer-King, Marshall said the British actor, who previously appeared in PBS' 2017 Little Women miniseries, came with a "sweetness" and "deep passion" that he was looking for in the film's prince.
EW, who also spoke to Hauer-King and Ariel herself, Halle Bailey, noted that three other people were up for the part of Eric.
"I didn't take her being kind to me as any indication," Hauer-King recalled of his final audition round with Bailey. "I just assumed she was a lovely person and would've done that for anyone."
After returning to his trailer from the audition, Hauer-King told the outlet he heard a knock at his door. It was Bailey coming to wish him luck and share her hopes of seeing him again. Hauer-King said he began overthinking the exchange, a process that "traumatized" him as he was waiting to find out if he landed the part.
"I thought, 'What does it all mean? Is that an indication? Did she knock on everyone's door?'" he said. Bailey, as it turned out, did not. It really was a sign.
"We became very, very close friends — and still are," he added.
Bailey has spoken often about the groundbreaking role, and the reaction she's received following the release of the film's first trailer last year -- particularly from little Black girls who are seeing themselves portrayed as the beloved Disney character for the first time onscreen.
"It's been really crazy, really overwhelming. I've been so emotional when I see all the babies," she gushed back in October while attending the WACO Theater Center's Wearable Art Gala, a month after the first look was released at Disney's D23 Expo. "So, I'm just really honored and just pinching myself."
In addition to Hauer-King and Bailey, the film also stars Melissa McCarthy as Ursula, and Javier Bardem as King Triton, with Daveed Diggs as the voice of Sebastian the crab, Jacob Tremblay as Flounder, and Awkwafina as Scuttle.
The Little Mermaid is set to swim into theaters on May 26.