The Little Mermaid's Daveed Diggs Was Uneasy About Voicing Sebastian in Disney’s Live-Action Remake

Daveed Diggs wasn't quick to go under the sea on Disney's live-action remake of The Little Mermaid, where Diggs voices the CG-animated crab Sebastian. Unlike the character's first voice actor Samuel E. Wright, who speaks with a Trinidadian accent in the 1989 animated original, Diggs will speak in a Caribbean accent for the re-imagining from Chicago and Mary Poppins Returns director Rob Marshall. The Hamilton and Soul star went on research trips and took dialect lessons for the role, which Diggs says comes with "a lot of responsibility."

"I was never gunning to be in these Disney remakes and, if I'm being honest, Sebastian comes with a lot of responsibility. For a lot of folks my age who are from the Caribbean, Sebastian was the first time they'd really seen themselves in American film, and I'm not Caribbean, so," Diggs told The Hollywood Reporter, adding: "We'll see if people crucify me for it."

Diggs also told THR he ultimately agreed to The Little Mermaid because Disney decided to cast actress and singer Halle Bailey as its lead, saying he's "worked harder on this voice gig for an animated crab than almost any other role."

Disney The Little Mermaid Live-Action cast
(Photo: Disney)

Joining Bailey and Diggs are Jacob Tremblay (Good Boys) as Flounder, Ariel's fish friend; Awkwafina (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings) as eccentric seagull Scuttle; Jonah Hauer-King (TV's Little Women) as Prince Eric, Ariel's romantic interest; Melissa McCarthy (Superintelligence) as Ursula, the villainous sea witch; and Javier Bardem (Dune) as King Triton, Ariel's strict father.

Diggs previously revealed the re-imagining will give "some more power back to Ariel," the underwater princess who longs to be part of the world above.

"Some of the updates they’ve done to the story are really important in terms of giving some more power back to Ariel," the Snowpiercer actor recently told Variety. "It's fun to work on something that's so intentional in the idea of 'If we're going to make this now, we're not going to leave this alone as a time capsule.' Let's make it for now."

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Disney has not announced a release date for its live-action Little Mermaid, which the studio will release into theaters. Other live-action adaptations of Disney's animated films include the Emma Stone-starring Cruella (May 28), Peter Pan & Wendy for streaming on Disney+, and Pinocchio, also a straight-to-streaming release reuniting Forrest Gump director Robert Zemeckis with star Tom Hanks in the role of Geppetto.

Header photo credit: Rebecca Cabage/Invision/AP