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The Little Mermaid’s Melissa McCarthy ‘100 percent’ used drag as an influence

"There's a drag queen that lives in me," the Bridesmaids star said.

By Alastair James

Melissa McCarthy as Ursula in The Little Mermaid.
Melissa McCarthy as Ursula in The Little Mermaid. (Image: Disney)

Honestly, between The Little Mermaid and the Barbie movies, we’re being well fed cinematically this summer. And Melissa McCarthy is getting us more amped!

The former, starring Halle Bailey as the titular Mermaid, will also star Melissa McCarthy as the iconic villainess, Ursula.

Ahead of its debut in May, the cast of the live-action remake spoke to Entertainment Weekly (EW).

Discussing her Divine inspired character, McCarthy, 52, said she had “100 percent” used drag as an influence.

The Little Mermaid poster
The Little Mermaid poster (Image: Disney)

“There’s a drag queen that lives in me,” the Bridesmaids star said. “I’m always right on the verge of going full-time with her.”

In 2014 McCarthy revealed in an interview with Rolling Stone that she had started her comedy career performing in drag as Miss Y.

“No one’s ready for Melissa McCarthy”

McCarthy also touched on the updated backstory for her half-squid villain – she’s the estranged sister of King Triton.

“She’s the villain, but there’s such an edge to her. She’s been put in this lair. It’s like she’s had too many martinis alone. Her friends are eels. That is a woman who has seen it, been in it, dug her way back out. All my references are terrible, but I kept thinking, ‘Many a Pall Mall has this woman had.'”

McCarthy also added that she wanted to “keep the humor and the sadness and the edginess” of Ursula. This, she said, was everything she wants in a character.

“And frankly, everything I want in a drag queen.”

Melissa McCarthy as Ursula in The Little Mermaid.
Melissa McCarthy as Ursula in The Little Mermaid. (Image: Disney)

Lin-Manuel Miranda, who worked with Menken on the score, told EW: “No one’s ready for Melissa McCarthy.”

Of her turn with the iconic villain song ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’ Miranda said: “She brings all of the delicious camp from the original, but then also is just scary.”

Finally, he added: “If that’s your favorite song, you’re going to be happy.”

McCarthy recently came out in support of drag following a ban on drag acts in Tennessee. Similar bans have also been proposed by other US states.

Earlier in March she posted on Instagram an image with several well known figures who have done a form of drag. One of them is Robin Williams who gave an unforgettable performance as Mrs. Doubtfire.

McCarthy’s post read: “You’ve been entertained by drag your whole life. Don’t pretend it’s a problem now.”

The Little Mermaid is out on 26 May 2023.