Fans have expressed their disappointment after Harry Styles turned down the role of Prince Eric in the live action reimagining of The Little Mermaid.

It had been reported the former One Direction singer had signed on to star opposite Halle Bailey’s Ariel in the Disney film.

However, a source close to Styles confirmed that while he was a fan of the project, he decided against taking part.

While some fans reacted by providing alternatives for the role – with To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before star Noah Centineo and Canadian singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes popular choices – others were crestfallen by the news.

Many shared their reactions on Twitter.

Disney announced its live-action remake of the 1989 animated classic in 2016 and said Rob Marshall would be on directing duties.

Bailey was announced as starring as Ariel in July. The 19-year-old – who is in musical duo Chloe X Halle with her sister Chloe – was cast after an “extensive search”, Disney said.

The Little Mermaid is loosely based on the Danish fairytale by Hans Cristian Andersen and tells the story of mermaid princess Ariel, who dreams of becoming human after meeting and falling in love with Eric, a human prince.

Production on The Little Mermaid is expected to begin in early 2020.