Melissa McCarthy Is One of Nine People Who Play Ursula in ‘The Little Mermaid’

in Disney, Entertainment

Melissa Mccarthy and her tentacles as Ursula in 'The Little Mermaid' live-action

Credit: Inside the Magic

Melissa McCarthy is being praised left and right for her outstanding portrayal of Ursula in the live-action version of The Little Mermaid.

A new promo for the film was released yesterday in anticipation of its release next week, and it features not only Melissa McCarthy’s stupendous acting as Ursula but some of her amazing bars of the classic song “Poor Unfortunate Souls” as well.

Related: Melissa McCarthy Teases Sympathetic Villain in ‘The Little Mermaid’: “There’s A Little Ursula In All Of Us”

However, as amazing as Melissa McCarthy is, she doesn’t deserve all the credit for bringing Ursula to life – and we’re not talking about Jessica Alexander, who plays her alter ego, Vanessa.

The truth is eight other people were integral to the creation of the live-action Ursula: Eight dancers, specifically.

As Director Rob Marshall explained to Deadline:

We brought in eight dancers to work with her, playing each of her tentacles. They literally puppeteered her tentacles as if we were doing War Horse on stage. They would be in the rehearsal space with her, starting on the ground in this massive clamshell so Melissa could get a sense of her space. Then we put them all into the air…we could choreograph the tentacles.

Ursula smiling with her tentacles writhing about
Credit: Disney

Related: Drag Queen Icon Nina West And Melissa McCarthy Have a Moment at “The Little Mermaid” Premiere

Picture it: Melissa McCarthy acting and singing, surrounded by eight dancers who each have to act like one long, squirmy leg. Marshall explained that “there was a moment where a tentacle goes around Ariel, and one takes her face and turns it,” which means that one dancer on a rig had to wrap themselves around Halle Bailey. The other had to turn her head (while six other dancers were off in the distance doing their own leg-related thing.)

Marshall explained that every single shot had to be intensely choreographed, and because of how dynamic some of the movements were, they often had to change the flying rig the dancers were on after each new line.

Melissa McCarthy cast as Ursula in 'The Little Mermaid' (2023) live-action
Credit: Disney

Related: ‘The Little Mermaid’ Star Pitches Ursula Spinoff: “It Writes Itself, Disney!”

So how did Melissa McCarthy feel about having all these extra legs hanging around all the time? Well, to hear Marshall tell it, she wanted to keep them:

Melissa was so hilarious; she kept saying, “I’m gonna take them on the road. We’re gonna play Vegas, me and my tentacles.”

Absent the announcement of a Vegas show, you can see the end result of what Melissa McCarthy and her tentacles created together when The Little Mermaid gets its legs and strolls into theaters on May 26.

What do you think of Rob Marshall’s method for creating the tentacles? Let us know in the comments.

View Comments (3)