An epic battle is being waged under the sea. Melissa McCarthy and rap/pop sensation Lizzo are vying for the coveted role of tentacled sea witch Ursula in the live action remake of The Little Mermaid.
Lizzo made her interest in the role known by Tweeting out the crying emoji when news broke that McCarthy was in talks for the part. She then covered herself in purple body paint, rocked a massive, white beehive wig and did a rendition of “Poor Unfortunate Souls” from the animated film. Talk about committing to an audition.
McCarthy’s name was floated for the villainous role last week. The live action adaptation will be directed by Rob (Chicago, Mary Poppins Returns) Marshall and will feature music from the Oscar-winning original soundtrack by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken. The reboot will feature some new music by Menken and Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Lizzo recently broke through with mainstream audiences with the hit single, “Juice,” even though she’s been in the game for years.
The Little Mermaid was released to critical acclaim in 1989 and was a worldwide box office smash. The movie was nominated for three Oscars, winning two (Best Original Score, Best Original Song for “Under the Sea”) and is credited with kickstarting the Disney animated film renaissance.
The concept design of the Ursula character was based on John Waters frequent collaborator and muse, the corpulent drag queen Divine. Pat Carroll voiced the role in the animated film, but she wasn’t the filmmakers’ first choice. It was Bea Arthur. She turned down the part. Roseanne, Nancy Wilson and Charlotte Rae were considered, but Elaine Stritch was hired, then fired after frequent clashes with Ashman.
McCarthy moved away from her mainstream comedy roles last year and was rewarded with great critical acclaim and a well-deserved Oscar nomination for Can You Ever Forgive Me? She appears next in the crime comedy drama The Kitchen alongside Tiffany Haddish and Elizabeth Moss.
If neither McCarthy or Lizzo gets the role of Ursula, we’d like to suggest Rebel Wilson, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” queen Eureka O’Hara and Tituss Burgess, who also does a fab rendition of “Poor Unfortunate Souls.” See below.