Who plays Ursula in the new Little Mermaid?

As the official film trailer is released, fans are wondering who will be playing the villainous sea witch

Disney Liltte Mermaid movie promo image
(Image credit: Disney)

Disney is bringing one of its much-loved children's movies back to life in a new live-action remake as fans ask who plays Ursula in the new Little Mermaid?

Whether your family is a fan of movie classics like Disney Pixar's Toy Story (opens in new tab), Frozen (opens in new tab) or DreamWorks Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (opens in new tab), or perhaps you just want some more ideas for Disney-inspired baby names (opens in new tab), then this new release is for you.

It follows the beloved story of Ariel, one of the most popular Disney princesses (opens in new tab), a beautiful and spirited young mermaid with a thirst for adventure. The youngest of King Triton’s daughters and the most defiant, Ariel longs to find out more about the world beyond the sea and, while visiting the surface, falls for the dashing Prince Eric. While mermaids are forbidden to interact with humans, Ariel must follow her heart. She makes a deal with the evil sea witch, Ursula, which gives her a chance to experience life on land but ultimately places her life – and her father’s crown – in jeopardy.

As we look at who plays the baddie in the remake...

Who plays Ursula in the new Little Mermaid?

Melissa McCarthy plays Ursula in the new Little Mermaid movie. Fans were given the first-look of the actress in action as the villain when the trailer for the live-action Disney movie remake was aired during the Oscars (opens in new tab). For anyone who is not familiar with Melissa McCarthy, she is an American actress who has many strings to her career bow including comedian, producer, writer and fashion designer. You might recognise her from starring in 2015 movie Spy or 2011's chick flick Bridesmaids and she also had a leading role in 2013 film Identity thief.

Who is the new Little Mermaid?

The new Little Mermaid is Halle Bailey who is playing Ariel. The American singer, songwriter and actress is best-known for being one half of the musical duo Chloe x Halle with Chloe being her sister. Together they have received five Grammy Award nominations since 2018. Halle was first unveiled as playing the lead character when the first official poster of The Little Mermaid was released.

Honoured to be part of such a huge film, Halle said, "Words can’t describe how immensely honoured I feel to play the mermaid of my dreams, Ariel in Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Come under the sea with me, in theatres May 26, 2023."

And fans were delighted with the casting. One fan wrote at the time, "It's so incredibly beautiful that you are bringing Ariel to life! I'm in my thirties and definitely still want to be a mermaid when I grow up, cannot wait to see this!"

Another fan put, "I've always dreamed of it, a black mermaid. Now I can imagine myself in the movie The Little Mermaid, Thank you very much Halle Bailey."

And a third supported added, "I just watched the new trailer and I CANNOT wait to see this. You look so good. I love all it so far."

Joining Halle is Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric, Bridgerton (opens in new tab)'s Simone Ashley as Indira, Jacob Tremblay as Flounder, Daveed Diggs as Sebastian, Lin-Manuel Miranda as Le Chef Louis, Javier Bardem as King Triton, to name but a few.

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Is the Little Mermaid coming out in 2023?

Yes, the Little Mermaid is due to be released in US theatres and UK cinemas on 26th May 2023 and will be available on Disney+ later in the year. Disney shared, "Watch and you’ll see, Some day I’ll be, Part of your world Watch the new trailer for The Little Mermaid and see the movie in cinemas May 26!"

After filming wrapped, Halle told her Instagram followers, "I feel so grateful to have experienced this film in all of its glory ... it has been the toughest experience being away from everything and everyone I've ever known, to feeling self doubt/ loneliness, but also feeling such freedom and perseverance as I've reached the end. This experience has made me so much stronger than I ever thought I could be."

She also expressed her feelings around representation in the movie, telling PEOPLE, "The fact that now it's getting to be played by me, a person who looks like me, woman of colour, I'm just like, wow, I'm so grateful what it will do for all the other little Black and brown boys and girls who will see themselves in me. Because I know if I had seen myself when I was younger, I think my whole perspective would've changed."

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Selina Maycock
Senior Entertainment Writer

Selina is a Senior Entertainment Writer with more than 15 years of experience in newspapers and magazines. She currently looks after all things Entertainment for Goodto.com, Woman&Home, and My Imperfect Life. Before joining Future Publishing, Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism. She is fully NCTJ and NCE qualified and has 100wpm shorthand. When she's not interviewing celebrities you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories.