Regardless of what some traditionalist critics might say, Disney is dead-set on continuing its trend of reinventing their classic Animated Canon of films into live-action remakes. And considering the large amount of movies that equates too, they have hit upon the brilliant idea of dividing the productions on two major platforms. There will be some films that will be given a theatrical release, while other adaptations will become exclusive content for the Disney+ streaming service. “The Little Mermaid” has the honor of being remade for cinemas, and this month a name was given who would portray the memorable antagonist Ursula.
Vanity Fair has it that Melissa McCarthy has now entered negotiations with Disney on playing the big bad for their live-action adaptation of “The Little Mermaid” sometime in the next decade. She would be the first name to be considered for the cast of the remake, where thus far the only announcements have been for the main production detail. It should be recalled that the earliest information released regarding Disney’s live-action treatment of “The Little Mermaid” way back in 2016 included the return of the animated original’s composer Alan Menken, who would be assisted in this iteration by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
In the Disney animated take on “The Little Mermaid” in 1989, the sea witch named Ursula was changed from the neutral character of Hans Christian Andersen’s original fairy tale into an active antagonist that sought to dethrone the father of the mermaid Ariel, who reigned as King of the Sea. She was voiced by actress Pat Carroll in her true form (large-built white haired woman with an octopus lower body) and by Ariel’s voice actress Jodi Benson in her human disguise. This might thus limit McCarthy’s role as portraying only the base sea witch form and not her alternate shape, if the remake does stick to the film’s original plotline.
Aside from Melissa McCarthy there has been a significant pool of interested celebrities in portraying the popular villainesses who sung of helping “Poor Unfortunate Souls” and then stealing Ariel’s voice. Other choices range from Bette Midler (a Disney veteran from 1993’s “Hocus Pocus”), Lady Gaga, and rap singer Lizzo who had actually campaigned to get the part starting by dressing as Ursula for Halloween last year. Her 2018 costumed jaunt managed to get interest on social media at the time.
No other news on possible casting has been made of “The Little Mermaid” which will be directed by Rob Marshall (2018’s “Mary Poppins Returns”). Barring any setbacks, production of the live-action movie could begin by 2020. Two live-action remakes have premiered this year, “Dumbo” in March and “Aladdin” in May. Melissa McCarthy starred in the critically-panned 2016 “Ghostbusters.”
Image courtesy of Hollywood Reporter