Jodi Benson, the Original Ariel, Says She Approves of Disney's Changes to 'The Little Mermaid'

And she's "thrilled" for Halle Bailey to take the spotlight.

<p>Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney</p>

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

This Friday, Disney's latest live-action remake, The Little Mermaid, flips its fins into theaters. One of its original cast members, Disney legend Jodi Benson who voiced Ariel, voiced her support of the new film and the changes that were made so the plot would be more in line with the values we now share in 2023. While the film already sparked controversy, with some questioning the casting of Black actress Halle Bailey as Ariel, more is sure to come as loyalists pick apart the slight changes to the plot and songs, which were all announced as Disney teased the film.

Benson noted that while the original film was being prepped back in the '80s when things were very different, she, for one, is glad to see the changes in the film and is embracing them wholeheartedly.

"We're talking about starting our [voiceover] sessions in '86 [for the original film]. It's 2023, so we have to grow, we have to learn, we have to be aware of our surroundings," Benson told Entertainment Weekly. The outlet notes that some changes include Ariel and Prince Eric being more like "kindred spirits" than falling in love at first sight and minor alterations to the lyrics in the Oscar-nominated song "Kiss the Girl."

<p>Don Arnold/WireImage</p>

Don Arnold/WireImage

Related:The Best Mermaidcore Looks from The Little Mermaid Press Tour

Benson went on to say that trying to keep the story of The Little Mermaid relevant is important to her and she's excited to see what audiences think of the "growth" within the new film that honors and pays homage to the original animated classic.

"We've got to be aware of our growth as humans and what's important now and what maybe isn't as important," Benson added. "Things change. We've got to roll with that. I think that Rob and John have done a beautiful job of doing that, and still paying tribute and honor to our original film. But you've got to have growth. It's very important to stay relevant with where we are, what's going on around us. We need to be aware. So the adjustments and the fine-tuning that they needed to do, it was a must, but it was done in a beautiful way, and I'm very, very thrilled with it."

Benson finished by sharing that she's so, so excited to have fans see what Bailey does with Ariel's character. She shared that she's been in contact with Bailey's family, and there's nothing but love for everyone involved. She said she's proud of Bailey and is "thrilled" for the world to see her interpretation of Ariel

"It's been great for me to be able to just love on her and support her and her family," she says. "And to know that she was in great hands with all of the staff, and especially with Rob and John. And to know just the beautiful way that she has been able to capture Ariel and all that is part of Ariel. And just how incredibly proud I am of her, just wanting her to know that I was there for her in whatever way I could be. She did it. She has told this beautiful story, and I'm just so thrilled for her."

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