Melissa McCarthy Reportedly in Talks to Play Ursula in 'Little Mermaid' Live-Action Remake

Melissa McCarthy is reportedly in talks to play the villain Ursula in Disney's live-action remake of The Little Mermaid. The film will be directed by Rob Marshall and will feature new songs co-written by Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.

While there is still no actress attached to play the beloved tale's lead Ariel, Variety notes McCarthy is the only one in talks for the project. Sources told the outlet that McCarthy's deal is not complete yet. The new film will be directed by Marshall, an Oscar-nominee for directing 2002's Chicago. He also helmed Into the Woods, Mary Poppins Returns and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides for Disney.

Miranda, who starred in Mary Poppins Returns, will co-write new songs with composer Alan Menken, who wrote the 1989 animated film's songs with the late lyricist Howard Ashman. Miranda is also producing with Marshall, Marc Platt and John DeLuca. Jessica Virtue and Allison Erlikham will oversee the production for Disney.

David Magee, who earned Oscar nominations for his adapted screenplays Finding Neverland and Life of Pi, wrote the script. Magee also worked on Mary Poppins Returns and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day.

The 1989 Little Mermaid was loosely based on the Hans Christian Andersen story of a young mermaid who wishes to become human after falling in love with a prince. In the film, the mermaid Ariel made a deal with the devil, Ursula, to trade her voice for a pair of legs.

Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, The Little Mermaid launched the Disney Renaissance after years of decline from the studio's animation department. The film won Oscars for the song "Under the Sea" and for Menken's original score. "Kiss the Girl" was also nominated for an Oscar.

Other songs in the film include "Part of Your World" and "Poor Unfortunate Souls," a song that will give McCarthy a chance to show off her vocal talents.

McCarthy is an Oscar nominee for her roles in Bridesmaids and Can You Ever Forgive Me?. She has stayed away from live-action children's films though, choosing instead to star in adult comedies like Spy, The Heat and Identity Thief.

Disney's strategy of turning its beloved animated hits into live-action movies has been going non-stop since Alice in Wonderland was an international hit in 2010. The strategy has mostly worked, although Dumbo stalled at just $351.4 million worldwide earlier this year. On the other hand, Aladdin, which was released in May, which just passed $821.1 million.

Disney's next big release is Jon Favreau's remake of The Lion King, which uses photo-realistic CGI to bring talking animals to life. The film hits theaters on July 19.


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