Little Mermaid star Halle Bailey raves about Melissa McCarthy as Ursula: ‘I can’t wait for people to see’

Melissa McCarthy (L) and animated Ursula (R).

As excitement swells for the imminent arrival of Halle Bailey’s The Little Mermaid, the star has teased an image of Melissa McCarthy as the villainous Ursula.

The live-action remake of the classic Disney film sparked online discourse after bigots complained about the casting of a black woman in the role of a fictional mermaid. However, among the hate, there has been a huge support for the cast, which also includes Jacob Tremblay and Art Malik, as well as rumours of a spot for Lin-Manuel Miranda, who named his son after the film’s crab, Sebastian.

As Disney dropped the first trailer, featuring a snippet of Bailey singing “Part of Your World”, we were also treated to Ursula’s cackle – leaving fans gagging for more.

Ursula has long been a camp legend among the gay community, and Melissa McCarthy’s portrayal of the sea-witch who tricks Ariel into giving up her voice is highly anticipated. And it seems, fans are not the only ones hooked by the comedian’s screen presence.

At the Kids’ Choice Awards, Bailey told ET: “People are gonna be so amazed at her job [playing] Ursula. First of all, she’s a beautiful human being, so talented, and the way she just consumes Ursula is so beautiful. I’m so proud of her and I can’t wait for people to see it.”

As for how McCarthy makes the role her own, Bailey added: “She has this kind of maternal trickiness when it comes to tricking Ariel in the film, so I got to be consumed in her world and [fall under] her spell. It wasn’t so much like mean, mean. It was like [Ariel] looking for a maternal figure.”

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Melissa McCarthy has been coy about her experience filming the role but has offer the occasional snippet of what’s to come.

“It’s been an absolute blast,” she told Ellen in 2020. “Stepping into the world of Rob Marshall [the director] is like a fever dream.”

And on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, she said: “I’m just doing it as if I am a vaudevillian nightclub act that lives in my heart.”

It sounds as if her rendition of Ursula’s hit number, “Poor Unfortunate Souls”, is going to be an experience. On The Kelly Clarkson Show, she admitted to being “scared to death” recording her big solo. “When we finally recorded it and they were like ‘that’s it, you’ve got your song’, I burst out crying’,” she added.

The Little Mermaid is due to open in the UK on 26 May.