Of the four films that represent the pillars of the 1989-1999 renaissance for Walt Disney Animation Studios, only the first one, 1989’s The Little Mermaid, has yet to be given the live-action remake treatment. That will change though, because the wheels are beginning to turn to make a live-action Ariel part of our world.
Late last week, we heard that actress Melissa McCarthy was in talks to join Disney’s The Little Mermaid as the villainous sea witch Ursula, voiced by Pat Carroll in the original film. While that deal is not yet final, the Can You Ever Forgive Me? actress may have some competition for the role if Lizzo has anything to say about it. The singer and rapper took to social media to let everybody know that she’s perfect for the live-action Ursula. Take a look:
I always like when actors throw their hat into the ring for a part or a property by publicly showing genuine interest in it. It’s even better when they actively campaign for a role as Lizzo did on Twitter. Lizzo is not messing around either; she let everybody know that she is Ursula and made sure to show people exactly why she’s perfect for the part of one of Disney’s most iconic villains.
The singer, who just released her third studio album Cuz I Love You in April, went above and beyond by singing Ursula’s “Poor Unfortunate Souls” in a full Ursula getup, makeup and all. She not only wore a wig and painted herself to look like Ursula, Lizzo even got Ursula’s earrings and the nautilus shell necklace in which the sea witch keeps Ariel’s voice. That’s some serious dedication to prove she’s right for the role.
Lizzo delivers on “Poor Unfortunate Souls” as well, showing off her unaccompanied singing chops and conveying Ursula’s deviousness with her performance. Although, while it may have been on brand to throw in “bitch” at the end of the video, I doubt that is the kind of improvisation that appeals to the family-friendly Mouse House.
Regardless, Lizzo’s singing ability is definitely an advantage she would have as Ursula. That’s not to say Melissa McCarthy can’t sing, it's just that Lizzo does that as a career. And the live-action The Little Mermaid will be a musical, with Alan Menken returning to handle the film’s music alongside Lin-Manuel Miranda. Lizzo has also recently begun taking steps into acting. She lent her voice to UglyDolls and will appear in September’s Hustlers.
Of course, Melissa McCarthy is the easy choice when it comes to acting ability, with two Oscar nominations to her name. Interestingly, Lizzo isn’t the only music star to have been in the Ursula conversation; it was rumored last year that Disney was interested in Lady Gaga for the role.
That brings up an interesting question for this live-action reimagining of The Little Mermaid: will the same actress play Ursula in her sea witch form as well as when she disguises herself as the human Vanessa to steal Eric? I tend to think it makes more sense for them to be different actresses, but we’ll see.