Disney's Live-Action 'Little Mermaid' Wants Melissa McCarthy as Sea Witch Ursula

Melissa McCarthy might be getting ready to go under the sea, because Disney wants the Can You Ever Forgive Me actress to play the villainous Ursula in their live-action The Little Mermaid remake. The sea witch character in the Disney original offers mermaid Ariel a Faustian bargain to grow legs and live on the land to seduce a handsome prince. Of course, since she’s a villain, she has more nefarious plans in store. Rob Marshall is set to helm the live-action Mermaid, which is good or bad news depending on where you stand on Rob Marshall. On the plus side, Lin-Manuel Miranda is on board to write new songs.

Variety broke the story that Melissa McCarthy is in early talks to join the live-action Little Mermaid remake as Ursula. Disney has had a live-action Mermaid on their minds for a few years now, and it looks like they’re finally ready to dive-in and make a splash. The project was first announced back in 2016, and it was revealed then that original composer Alan Menken would return to handle the music, and write new songs with Hamilton superstar Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Word of Rob Marshall’s involvement surfaced in 2017, and by 2018, it was official – the Mary Poppins Returns director was on the hook to direct The Little Mermaid. Jane Goldman, writer of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, penned an early version of the script, but Variety says the draft currently being used is from Marshall’s Mary Poppins Returns screenwriter David Magee.

The original Little Mermaid, released in 1989, remains one of Disney’s very best animated films. It was also the start of the so-called Disney Renaissance, the decade when Disney recovered from a series of bombs and setbacks to create several critically acclaimed box office smashes – many of which remain iconic to this day.

In The Little Mermaid, “rebellious 16-year-old mermaid Ariel is fascinated with life on land. On one of her visits to the surface, which are forbidden by her controlling father, King Triton, she falls for a human prince. Determined to be with her new love, Ariel makes a dangerous deal with the sea witch Ursula to become human for three days. But when plans go awry for the star-crossed lovers, the king must make the ultimate sacrifice for his daughter.”

Not to pour cold water over this whole endeavor, but I really don’t know how to feel about this. While the live-action Disney remakes continue to break the bank at the box office, they’re often kind of boring and uninspired. Melissa McCarthy is great, and she would no doubt make a great Ursula. But the original Little Mermaid is so magical in its animated form that it’s hard to picture a live-action version, which will no doubt be riddled with lifeless CGI. But who knows – it might turn out to be a pleasant surprise. For now, why not enjoy Ursula’s big number from the original film.

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