Who Suffered More? ‘Avatar’ and ‘Little Mermaid’ Stars Discuss Underwater Challenges

kate winslet and halle bailey

The new little mermaid Ariel has undergone quite the ordeal while filming the new live-action adaptation of the 1989 movie The Little Mermaid!

Halle Bailey, the singer and actress who is playing Ariel, recently spoke about some of the challenges that came with the role (without even including the amount of backlash that followed after her casting announcement).

According to Halle Bailey, filming her water scenes as the mermaid Ariel could involve being in the water for as long as 13 hours straight!

It’s no secret that life on a movie set can involve workdays with long hours (sometimes going as long as 18 hours in one day), but being in the water for so long can certainly cause a lot of particularly unique discomforts.


“I had a ton of water scenes,” Bailey previously explained to Us Weekly as well. “Like, for the shipwrecks, they’d turn on the wave machines and turn on the rain and thunder and you literally felt like you were in the middle of the ocean”.

Bailey did call these intense “water scenes” very “exhilarating“, but she also admitted that they could be frightening. In addition, Bailey “was in intense physical training for three months”.

“Every single day I’d either be up in the air on wires, in a harness, or I’d be in the water all day,” she added. “It’s the most in shape I’ve ever been in my life. But that was the toughest part I think, having to be that strong.”

kate winslet ronal avatar way of water

Kate Winslet as Ronal, a leader of the N’avi in Avatar: The Way of Water. Zoe Saldana is returning as Neytiri, while Sam Worthington is returning as Jake Sully and Sigourney Weaver is back in a new role. Credit: Empire Magazine

Another A-list actress who has just achieved some pretty impressive physical feats is one of the newest members of the Avatar film franchise, and figuring out which movie cast faced the more daunting challenges is an intriguing dilemma!

English actress and Academy Award recipient Kate Winslet, who plays the character Ronal in Avatar: The Way of Water, has also spoken about the difficulties she faced while filming extensive underwater scenes for the James Cameron movie. Winslet had to learn how to hold her breath for several minutes, and how to walk on the ‘ocean’ floor (which is very difficult).

kate winslet filming a motion capture underwater scene as ronal in avatar way of water

Kate Winslet in her motion capture gear, preparing for an underwater scene as Ronal in ‘Avatar: Way of Water’. Zoe Saldana is returning as Neytiri, while Sam Worthington is returning as Jake Sully and Sigourney Weaver is back in a new role. Credit: Disney

When it came down to Winslet’s ability to hold her breath underwater, the actress actually apparently broke the record held by Tom Cruise for his role in Mission: Impossible! The actress can hold her breath for seven minutes, beating Tom Cruise by thirty seconds.

“I had to learn how to free-dive to play that role in Avatar, and that was just incredible,” Winslet told the Hollywood Reporter. “My longest breath hold was seven minutes and 14 seconds, like crazy, crazy stuff.”


Halle Bailey as Ariel in the new Little Mermaid movie from Disney and Rob Marshall. Credit: Disney

Learning to free dive and hold your breath for seven minutes certainly seems difficult; however, wire work is notoriously uncomfortable and physically taxing, and 13 hours in the water (while most likely wearing an unwieldy mermaid costume) also seems challenging!

Which physical challenge would you rather face?

About Sharon

Sharon is a writer and animal lover from New England. Sharon's two main focuses in her work are Disney's correlations with pop culture and the significance of Disney princesses (which was the basis for her college thesis). When she's not writing about Disney, Sharon spends her time singing, dancing, and cavorting with woodland creatures!

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