Disney continues to mine their library of animated classics and work is kicking into high gear on their live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid. Now one of their most iconic villains is getting one of the biggest stars in Hollywood to bring her to life, as Melissa McCarthy is in talks to portray the evil underwater witch Ursula in the new movie.
A new report from Variety indicates that the deal has not yet been finalized, and that these are early discussions for McCarthy to join the new movie from Mary Poppins Returns director Rob Marshall. The movie does not yet have a release date, but Walt Disney Studios has already earmarked a few dates over the coming years that it could easily slot into based on how swiftly production kicks off.
Ursula has maintained a status as a fan-favorite villain in the Disney films over the last few decades, and her song "Poor Unfortunate Souls" by original actress Pat Carroll remains a cult classic among the zealots.
Ursula was infamously modeled after the popular drag icon Divine who starred in the theatrical version of Hairspray, though the actor passed away before he could participate in the production of the 1989 film.
Marshall is excited to update the film for a new generation and the director previously spoke to ComicBook about adding new musical numbers to the classic soundtrack.
"There are things I've learned about how you have to work to integrate songs into story, and how it has to feel earned. It can't just be sort of put there, placed there, because you feel there should be a song," Marshall said.
"It has to be a song that's earned, that takes you there. And so as we're working on, in a way, fleshing out The Little Mermaid — Ariel has one song in the animated film — and so we're looking for maybe more material."
Of course Marshall will be joined by Disney fan-favorite songwriter Alan Menken, who also recently updated the soundtracks for the remakes of Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin. Menken will be joined by one of Marshall's latest collaborators, with Hamilton scribe and Mary Poppins Returns star Lin-Manuel Miranda continuing his partnership with Walt Disney Studios.
Other than McCarthy, Spider-Man: Far From Home star Zendaya has been rumored to be up for a role, possibly playing the titular character of Ariel in the reboot.
There's no word yet on when the film is expected to begin production, but those details should come soon as casting gets underway.