Jonah Hauer-King: 14 Facts About The Little Mermaid Star

There's a new leading man in town. In 2023, Jonah Hauer-King is set to become of Hollywood's most-talked-about names having just starred as Prince Eric in Disney's live-action remake of "The Little Mermaid." While Hauer-King was relatively unknown before landing the role, he's hardly new to the industry. He grew up in London before studying at Eton College and Cambridge University and since then, he's been working pretty steadily. The actor actually got his start while studying at university, first acting in plays before making the leap to British television and film. In fact, you may have already seen him in shows like "World on Fire," "The Flatshare," and BBC's "Little Women."

While Hauer-King may be a relatively new face, we're willing to bet we'll be seeing a lot more of him after his breakout role. Curious to learn a little more about the man taking on this iconic Disney role? Here are 14 facts about Jonah Hauer-King.

Jonah Hauer-King didn't believe he got the part of Eric in The Little Mermaid

Jonah Hauer-King was no stranger to acting when he auditioned for Disney's "The Little Mermaid." However, he never expected to actually get the part. After all, pop superstar Harry Styles was also up for the role. So, when Hauer-King got the call telling him the good news, he was convinced it was a prank. As Hauer-King told WWD, the film's director, Rob Marshall, called him from an unknown number: "He said that he was looking for Prince Eric and I said, 'That might be me, I don't know.' And he said, 'It's yours, well done.'"

As soon as Hauer-King hung up the phone, he began to second-guess what had happened. "I sort of thought that it hadn't happened. I thought it might have been a bit like a dream," he recalled. Hauer-King even texted Marshall to double-check that he hadn't imagined the phone call. "He said, 'Yes, you crazy person, it's definitely yours.'" We can hardly blame him — after all, a leading role in a Disney remake would be any actor's dream come true.

Jonah Hauer-King is half-American

If you've seen "The Little Mermaid" or you've heard Jonah Hauer-King speak in interviews, you'd be forgiven for thinking the actor is 100% British — however, it turns out, he's actually half American on his mother's side. His mother, Debra Hauer, is a theater producer who is originally from the States. Although Hauer-King grew up in London, he still feels connected to his mother's native country.

"I am American ... My mum grew up in San Francisco and she moved to London when she was about my age, about 23," the actor told PBS. "And I think maybe the American spirit is about throwing yourself into things, but living a full life and being, sort of, tenacious and enthusiastic and determined. And that's something that I've got from my mum." And that's not the only American thing he inherited from his mother — he also got an American passport! 

Jonah Hauer-King was a big Little Mermaid fan as a kid

In many ways, Jonah Hauer-King's role in "The Little Mermaid" felt like destiny. As the actor explained to W Magazine, it was actually one of his favorite movies as a kid — at least according to his mother. "She reminded me of when I used to sit on the sofa with my two older sisters, watching 'The Little Mermaid,'" he said. In fact, his mother claimed he and his siblings were completely engrossed by the film as kids: "It was one of the only time we'd all shut up."

In another interview with AP, Hauer-King explained that when it came to filming the live-action remake, he was very "familiar." "It was one of my favorites growing up," he said. "It came out... not much before I was born and so it's just been part of my life." Now, it's safe to say, it's a bigger part of his life than ever.

Jonah Hauer-King played Laurie in a lesser-known Little Women

When you think of "Little Women," chances are, your first thought will be of the 2019 Greta Gerwig version starring Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet. However, you may not have realized that there was another version of the Louisa May Alcott novel produced by the BBC in 2017. This version was split into three episodes and starred Maya Hawke as Jo and, you guessed it, Jonah Hauer-King as Laurie.

As Hauer-King told PBS of the role, it felt very close to home. "I think he's very open, and he wears his heart on his sleeve, and he's full of life," said the actor. "And I feel I connect to all of those things about him. He is most comfortable when he's with other people and connecting with other people, and that's something that I really feel and recognize in myself."

Another reason the role felt so comfortable? Hauer-King was very used to being around women. "I grew up in a household with a mum and two older sisters who treated me with a lot of kindness and cruelty in equal measure," he told TV Show Patrol. "So this felt like home."

Jonah Hauer-King learned a lot from waiting tables

Before his career took off, Jonah Hauer-King was one of the many jobbing actors in London. When he wasn't working on a project, he made ends meet with a job at Brasserie Zédel, a French restaurant in the center of London. The restaurant, it turns out, is owned by Hauer-King's father, Jeremy King. Even though he probably didn't need to, Hauer-King decided to work there as a regular waiter. 

According to the actor, the hospitality job taught him a lot about people — things that he still uses in his acting work to this day. "It's great for people watching and performance, because you're reacting to a table: if they're up for a good night, you're helping them along on that energy, if they're in a foul mood you're trying to take the sting out of that," he told the Evening Standard.

Jonah Hauer-King got his start as a theater actor while in university

Although Jonah Hauer-King always loved acting, after graduating from high school, he decided not to go to drama school. Even though he already had an acting agent, after a year of no work, he decided to attend the University of Cambridge where he studied theology and religious studies. "I'm definitely grateful that I had the chance to go and study something completely different and unrelated to acting," he later told 1883 Magazine, adding, "It was great being surrounded by people who were doing different things and had such a diverse range of interests." 

Although Hauer-King didn't study acting, he did plenty of it. In fact, while still at university, he began landing professional theater roles, appearing in "Punk Rock" in Belfast at 21 and "The Entertainer" alongside Kenneth Branagh shortly after. "It's been tricky, but it's such a thrill to do both — it feels like a massive privilege," he told Broadway World.

Jonah Hauer-King has written music with Maya Hawke

It turns out, Jonah Hauer-King isn't just a talented actor — he's also a singer and songwriter, too. In the 2018 film, "Postcards from London," Hauer-King ended up performing a song on the soundtrack. "I was acting in the film and found out that Steve, the director, was being fairly open-minded about his musical approach," he explained to 1883 Magazine. "I kind of just muscled my way in there, brought my guitar on set one day and constantly dropped hints."

Hauer-King also did some songwriting on the set of "Little Women." His co-star in the film, Maya Hawke, is also known for her music. Apparently, during downtime on set, the pair worked on music together. "We spent every evening drawing and making music and painting with one another," he told PBS, adding, "We wrote a lot of music together, we wrote a lot of songs. She's a great guitarist; she's an amazing poet and song writer, and she writes incredible lyrics." In fact, because of all of the music in the show, he said that the set felt like their "own little mini-music studio." Let's just hope that one day we get to hear some of it!

Jonah Hauer-King did a few WWII period dramas

During the early years of his career, Jonah Hauer-King became known for one type of project: World War II period dramas. In 2018, he starred in the film, "Ashes in the Snow," which followed a young artist in Siberia during the war. The following year, he appeared in "The Song of Names," another WWII drama. That same year, he also starred in "World on Fire," a miniseries about Brits during the war.

For Hauer-King, appearing in WWII dramas took on extra meaning. As he told The Times, his mother's father was in the air force during the war. "He wanted to be a pilot, and would have been, but I think his eyesight wasn't great and, more important, when he did loop-the-loops, he felt sick and threw up," he said. "So I think he did air-traffic control. That would have been me as well."

Hauer-King went on to explain that his grandfather's story was always in his mind. "I've done two or three things now that have been connected to the Second World War," he said, adding. "It's about what it means to be uprooted, and how your Judaism affects your identity. It all felt close to the bone."

Jonah Hauer-King has a few career goals

Jonah Hauer-King may have starred in a Disney film, but there are still other plenty of things he hopes to do in the future. In a 2023 interview with Hey U Guys, the actor was asked who he'd like to work with. "Christopher Nolan — that would be fine... Chris if you're watching, I'm free," he joked.

But a Christopher Nolan film isn't his only career ambition. The young actor is also hoping to tackle new genres. "I'd like to do a biopic," he told 1883 Magazine. "I've always found it interesting how far actors push impersonations of the people they're playing, as opposed to just trying to capture some kind of 'essence' of them." He also noted that he'd love to do a musical — of course, now that he's been in "The Little Mermaid," that's one thing ticked off his career bucket list.

Jonah Hauer-King appeared in Equus at university

While Jonah Hauer-King has done his fair share of professional theater work, he has also appeared in a few amateur productions. While at university, for instance, he took on the challenging role of Alan in "Equus," which has also been played by the likes of Daniel Radcliffe and Peter Firth over the years. 

For the role, Hauer-King had to be fully nude on stage. "It's just one of those things that you have to do," the actor told The Cambridge Student at the time. "I've had the time to get my head round it and mull it over, but also because I've got to know the play and the character better." Naturally, Hauer-King was nervous at first. "I will feel exposed," he admitted, but added, "I'm very lucky to have this amazing role."

In fact, Hauer-King was eager not to focus too much on the play's nudity. As he wrote for Varsity, he believed that the infamous Daniel Radcliffe version was to blame. "He was not only making his first appearance on a London stage, but he was getting undressed in the process," the actor reflected. "I think regrettably too much was made of this." It's clear that this was an important role for the young Hauer-King — and we're not surprised that he took this student production just as seriously as all of his professional roles.

Jonah Hauer-King is an Arsenal fan

Outside of his work, Jonah Hauer-King has a diverse range of interests — and one of his biggest passions is football. The actor, it turns out, is a huge fan of London's Arsenal football club. In fact, in one interview in 2019, he refused to speak about the club because he was so upset by the team's recent performance. In another interview with 1883 Magazine, he revealed that one of his biggest fears is actually his team losing — but admitted that he never gives up hope. "I... promised myself I wouldn't get false hope about Arsenal this year," he said. "That hasn't worked."

In a 2023 interview with Glass Magazine (per Instagram), the actor was more willing to talk — after all, Arsenal had been doing much better. "I would be proud of them no matter what they do," he said. By the sounds of things, the famous "Ted Lasso" line "football is life" really is true for Hauer-King.

Jonah Hauer-King almost drowned on the set of The Little Mermaid

Prince Eric in "The Little Mermaid" may have been a dream come true for Jonah Hauer-King, but apparently, not every day on set was easy. In fact, as the actor told Seventeen Magazine, he struggled with the swimming scenes. "I nearly died! I just can't get the floating aspect," he said as his co-star Halle Bailey, who plays Ariel, laughed next to him. "Some people seem to do that really easily, like that just comes naturally to them. I just sink to the bottom."

Luckily, this made his drowning scene very easy to film. "I would just fall into the water and drown and didn't have to act very much," he said with a grin. What made matters worse, was that Hauer-King was wearing heavy boots that were, as he put it, "weighing me down." Luckily, Bailey was an excellent swimmer, so by the sounds of things, they were both well-suited to their roles.

Jonah Hauer-King underwent a lot of training to play Prince Eric

By any standards, "The Little Mermaid" is a big film. Not only does it have a huge budget, tons of CGI, and sweeping musical sequences, but it also asks a lot of its actors. So, when Jonah Hauer-King was cast in the role of Prince Eric, he was swiftly placed under an intensive training regime to prepare.

In just three months, he had to learn how to drive a horse-drawn carriage, scuba dive, and row a boat. That last one, he told WWD was "quite nice and I feel like that's quite a romantic little thing to be able to do." But that's not all. Hauer-King also had to be ready to sing and perform stunts on set. "There was a lot of training to play the characters," he said in a behind-the-scenes video (per YouTube). "There was stunt training, boat training, voice training, dog training, gym training. I just feel so trained." By the sounds of things, this role was not an easy one to get ready for. At least Hauer-King has a couple of new skills to add to his CV.

Jonah Hauer-King will appear in The Tattooist of Auschwitz

As of 2023, Jonah Hauer-King already has his next project lined up. In March, it was announced that he would be appearing in "The Tattooist of Auschwitz," a drama about Lale, a Jewish concentration camp prisoner during World War II who is tasked with tattooing numbers on other prisoners' arms. Hauer-King will star alongside  Anna Próchniak, Melanie Lynskey, and Jonas Nay. At the time, Hauer-King wrote on Instagram, "It is truly an honour to be telling Lale's story. Thank you Heather [Morris, the author of the novel] for trusting me with it."

Hauer-King also spoke to W Magazine about the upcoming project which could not be more different from "The Little Mermaid." "It was a surreal experience, having your head shaved every day and putting on that prison uniform and going to an Auschwitz set," he said. He noted that because of his grandfather's experience as a Jewish man during the war, he felt a strong personal link to Lale's story — which sometimes made the job even harder. "Because of my own personal connections to that time, it just felt impossible for it not to be hugely impactful and draining," he said. We can't wait to see what else this versatile young actor does next.