The Little Mermaid's Daveed Diggs: Melissa McCarthy as Ursula 'terrified' friend's daughter

The daughter of Daveed Diggs' (left) friend was scared of Melissa McCarthy's Ursula.
PHOTO: Instagram/The Little Mermaid

Think back to the children's movies you watched when you were young — was there a villain that struck fear into your little heart?

Some chilling characters include The Other Mother from Coraline and Oogie Boogie from The Nightmare Before Christmas, but a classic has to be Ursula from The Little Mermaid.

In this year's live-action adaptation of the 1989 Disney animated movie, actress Melissa McCarthy is bringing the fear of the sea witch to a whole new generation of children — one of them being the daughter of co-star Daveed Diggs' friend.

In a May 9 press conference, Daveed — who voices Sebastian the crab — said: "A really good friend of mine told me the day I got cast, 'I'm bringing my daughter to the premiere, whenever that will be.'

"So he brought his daughter to the premiere last night [in Los Angeles], and that was such a special experience."

He recalled seeing the animated version of the movie on "opening night in Oakland" when it was first released. It became a fundamental part of his childhood, and he wanted his friend's daughter to have the same experience.

"[But] she was so terrified of Ursula that I had to introduce her to Melissa afterwards so that she wouldn't have nightmares," the 41-year-old added.


"Yeah, I don't think I made it any better," Melissa, 52, quipped. "I kept trying. I tried to get really low. She was so tiny and so cute, and I was like, 'Hi, what's your name?'

"And she was like, mm-hmm," Melissa continued, imitating the hesitant young girl. "She was like, 'I see you, and I'm not buying it'. I felt so bad."

Daveed responded: "No, it was good. When we were walking out, we were like, 'She's only mean in the movie.'"

Javier Bardem, the Spanish actor who plays King Triton, added that he wanted to bring his children to watch the live-action movie soon, when it's released in Madrid. 

'The adults learn from the kids'

Javier, 54, elaborated on his role and how the live-action version of The Little Mermaid differed from the original animated version.

"It's about a man who is deeply in love, as a father, with his daughter, and he confuses his fear and insecurity with that love," he said about King Triton. "He's blocking her from being free."

The Little Mermaid (2023) also adds a new character to the mix, Queen Selina (played by Noma Dumezweni), who is the adoptive mother to Prince Eric.

"One of the beautiful themes in the story is that the mother and the father — the adults — learn from their kids," Javier continued.

"It's a very important lesson in what love means. They thought they knew, but no, they didn't have a glimpse of what real love was until they saw their own kids departing."

He added that love is about "respecting other people's journeys", which is what King Triton and Queen Selina learnt from their respective children — Arielle (Halle Bailey) and Eric (Jonah Hauer-King).

'My first reaction was just sobbing, honestly'

Halle was announced to star in The Little Mermaid back in July 2019.

Despite the filming and release being delayed because of Covid-19, the 23-year-old recalled her reaction to the news that she was going to play Ariel.

"Oh my gosh, my first reaction was just sobbing, honestly," she said. "I was just crying. I think we had celebrated my sister's (singer Chloe Bailey) birthday the day before. We rented an Airbnb, we were coming home, unloading everything and going into work mode. And then I got this call from Rob [Marshall, director]."

Not being one to answer "unknown numbers", Halle's initial thought was to not pick up the phone, but she said that her brother came running to her, telling her to answer it.

"So I answered it, and Rob was like, 'Hello, I'm looking for Ariel.'"

Apparently Halle spent the rest of the day crying in joy after receiving the news.


The Little Mermaid opens in Singapore on May 25.

ALSO READ: Halle Bailey found it 'frightening' acting without her voice in The Little Mermaid

No part of this article can be reproduced without permission from AsiaOne. 

This website is best viewed using the latest versions of web browsers.