Melissa McCarthy says drag queens inspired her role as Ursula in ‘The Little Mermaid’

Melissa McCarthy has revealed the inspiration behind her role as Ursula in The Little Mermaid live-action remake.

When it was first announced that the 52-year-old would be portraying the iconic Disney villain, it seems as though everyone collectively agreed that the casting director couldn’t have picked a better actress, and since we got a glimpse at McCarthy in action via teasers, it was well and truly confirmed.

Now, in a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, the star revealed that drag queens were the inspiration behind her role.

“I’m a huge, huge fan of drag shows and the whole art of it and the entertainment of it,” she told the outlet. “I’ve been going to shows since I was not supposed to be going to shows. There’s a drag queen that lives in me. I’m always right on the verge of going full-time with her.”

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Melissa McCarthy stars as Ursula in The Little Mermaid (2023). Credit: Sipa US / Alamy

She also admitted to tapping into her inner drag queen Miss Y, a persona that she used to perform under in the New York club scene.

“There’s a drag queen that lives in me. I’m always right on the verge of going full-time with her,” she told the show’s director Rob Marshall. “To keep the humor and the sadness and the edginess to Ursula is everything I want in a character – and frankly, everything I want in a drag queen.”

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Melissa McCarthy in The Little Mermaid (2023). Credit: Album / Alamy

Elsewhere in the interview, McCarthy also spoke out about what we can expect to see from Ursula, as well as her love for the character as a whole.

“She’s been put in this lair. It’s like she’s had too many martinis alone. Her friends are eels,” she described. “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.'”

When speaking about how she secured the role, the Gilmore Girls alum stated that she had to give it her best shot or she would “regret it forever.”

“I literally was like, ‘Please, please, please! I’ll bring craft services. I make a great chicken salad, hummus. I can bring snacks,'” McCarthy recalled. “I don’t know what lunacy went through my head, because I’m not known as a singer, but I just have always been so strangely in love with Ursula that I thought I can try and lose, but if I don’t at least try for it, I’ll regret it forever.”

Speaking of McCarthy, Marshall also added: “I have to say, when you see her in this, you will not believe it because it’s unlike anything she’s ever done. It’s really astonishing. Of course she’s funny and wild, but there’s such depth to what she’s doing as an actor.”

McCarthy stars alongside Halle Bailey as Ariel and Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric in Disney’s The Little Mermaid live-action remake.

The Little Mermaid is set to hit the big screens on May 26.

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