I’m not sure how to feel about the news about actress Melissa McCarthy being in early talks to play Ursula in Disney’s live-action The Little Mermaid. I know there are many who wish an actress of color or a Drag Queen would play the iconic Sea Witch. But I’m not sure about those choices either.
Even though Disney’s The Little Mermaid has garnered some criticism about how it doesn’t represent a more pro-active Disney Princess, it is still one of my favorite animated movies. Ariel, as a very young teenager, did what she could to live her authentic life. I don’t blame her.
Coming to the casting choice, McCarthy being considered for the role of Ursula has already led to numerous fans voicing their opinions online. Some like it. Some are disappointed because they hoped for a WOC to be cast. I mean, I understand wanting Ursula to be played by someone of color, however, I’m not sold on that idea until I find out who Disney casts as Ariel.
While Queen Latifah and Octavia Spencer are awesome choices for Ursula, I don’t want to see a fictional character of color trying very hard to destroy the life a young girl, especially if Ariel is going to be white. That won’t sit well with me considering Hollywood’s history of villainizing characters of color (including queer-coded characters).
Perhaps McCarthy will do a good job in the role. Time will tell. For me, the most important casting will be of Ariel. I just hope casting McCarthy doesn’t mean the red-headed mermaid will be white, too. Whether Disney goes for Zendaya (the current fan favorite) or someone else, fingers crossed we get to see an Ariel of color in the live-action adaptation.
Other than the casting decisions, the director for the project has me concerned, too. Rob Marshall did nothing innovative for Mary Poppins Returns and kept it quite white-centric. I hope he doesn’t do the same for the upcoming live-adaptation of the 1989 animated classic.
The project will have new tunes from Alan Menken and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Miranda is also producing the film along with Marshall, Marc Platt, and John DeLuca. David Magee wrote the script.
Jessica Virtue and Allison Erlikhman are overseeing for the studio.
Who’s your casting choice for Ursula and Ariel? Let us know.
Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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