The next Disney live-action remake to arrive is The Little Mermaid, a reboot of the beloved 1989 animated classic based on the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale. Halle Bailey is set to play the titular underwater princess, with the singer joined in her acting debut by the likes of Javier Bardem as King Triton, Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric and the voices of Daveed Diggs, Jacob Tremblay and Awkwafina as Ariel’s friends, Sebastian, Flounder and Scuttle.
And, of course, a Disney princess is nothing without her villain and Ursula the Sea-Witch will be brought to life in the movie by Melissa McCarthy, in her first ever musical role. While speaking to USA Today, McCarthy called the experience of playing Ursula “glorious”, highlighting how much she enjoyed working with director Rob Marshall (Mary Poppins Returns) and the recording process, not to mention getting to grips with one of her “absolute favorite villains.”
,”The world of Disney and (director) Rob Marshall is a world that I wish everyone could experience because it’s so creative, kind and lovely. Going to singing class every day … I got to record with an orchestra, which is a mind-bender for someone who is not a singer … but it was such a fun process. It’s going to be incredible … To me, Ursula is everything. She’s one of my absolute favorite villains so to play her was delicious.”
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As McCarthy reminds us, The Little Mermaid will take after 2017’s Beauty and the Beast and 2019’s The Lion King in that it will retain the music of the original film, unlike other remakes such as 2020’s Mulan which ditched the fan favorite songs. Composer Alan Menken is returning for the reboot, pairing up with Lin-Manuel Miranda to pen some new songs, which will give solo numbers to Eric, Triton and Scuttle among others.
Every Disney fan knows how Ursula fits into Ariel’s story – when the young mermaid wishes to become human to meet her prince, Ursula magics her up some legs but also takes her voice, as part of her plan to seize the throne of Atlantica. Her role will largely be the same in the remake, except we know that her backstory and connection to the heroine will be elaborated on in this live-action retelling.
Unfortunately, The Little Mermaid still has a ways to go until it’s here. Rob Marshall’s remake swims into theaters on May 26, 2023.