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Rob's Got Whosits & Whatsits Galore

by Jason Adams

I'm still traumatized (yes I know that's a strong word, but I need a strong word to get across the scope of the trauma) by the fact that we won't be getting Sofia Coppola's version of The Little Mermaid, so perhaps I'm not the best person to report this news, but here we are. Rob Marshall, the man who inflicted Nine upon the world, has according to Deadline been offered the gig of updating the Beloved Disney Classic to live-action. They say he will make up his mind over the holidays...

So let's pretend the comments are like our Letters To Santa, only they're Letters to Rob for him to read before he makes up his mind.

• What do you want him to consider over the holidays?
• Should he do it?
• Who should he cast? (Good luck finding an Ursula, dude.)
• And could any human man ever be as dreamy as Prince Eric? (The answer to that last one is obviously nope.)

Let it rip, folks...

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Reader Comments (49)

What matters Jason--who's the plus size actress they'll hire to play Ursula? I veto McCarthy and Spencer. We just deserve better than them. Latifah has done a version of the character for a photo spread. Monique is the ideal choice. And Kathy Bates was Marshall's initial choice for Matron Mama Morton in Chicago.

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful


Goog morning. It's been a long time that I didn't wright you. How are the things in North Polar? Do you all still have ice?

Came to my ears that Rob Marshall could direct Little Mermaid for Disney. He did Mary Poppins Returns for the mouse too. And Into the Woods. He is the director of Chicago and Memoirs of a Geisha. Is he the best choice for the jobby?

Why not give the direting chair to a girl like... Greta Gerwig? She understands teenagehood and Saoirse Ronan dream is making a musical, and they work together on Lady Bird. Math 2 + 2.

Could you rejuvenate Jessica Chastain for playing Ariel if Saoirse shedulle is full?

Could Henry Cavill be Eric?

Could Octavia Spencer, Mo'Nique or Taraji P. Henson be Ursula?

Could someone give Julie Andrews more movies to make? We miss her.



December 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJon

Audra McDonald once said she would like to play Ursula, and I am so into it that idea. I wouldn't even mind Rob Marshall as director if they made this casting happen.

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterV.

McDonald's not plus size. I want someone with rolls for the part.

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

Now he can just ask Streep to play Ursula

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

Whoopi isn't plus-sized but let's get her back on the big screen, shall we? She'd be a fun Ursula.

Mo'Nique. Duh.

Melissa McCarthy would be an obvious choice just because she's a plus-sized megastar, but I don't think she's right for it at all.

Rebel Wilson played Ursula when they did a concert in LA and I would NOT like to rehash that...

Actually, fuck it, I want Oprah. There. I've made up my mind.

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

Whoopi Goldberg hasn't been good since How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998). I don't trust her in a meaty role that would have defaulted to her in the 90s.

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

Loretta Devine.

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

Did Rob Marshall make a deal with the devil making him the only one in the film industry allowed to direct movie musicals? Are no other filmmakers interested in helming them? Do any of the decision makers in Hollywood ever approach other directors to offer them an opportunity? I remain befuddled by Marshall's stronghold on the genre.

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

Well, first I'd ask him not to do it and give another person a shot. Does Hollywood think he's the only white gay available to direct musicals? He's not even good at it. Chicago has proven to be more the exception to the rule.

As for the cast, immediately thought of Cavill for Eric. But he'd be a little bit old, right? And he also /looks/ older. He comes across closer to 40 than 30, and Ariel is supposed to be 16.

Saoirse Ronan seems the obvious choice right now for Ariel. But I think we can go more fun, unknown and inspired than that.

Ursula will be the challenge. Someone suggested Adele (the bubbly personality, the laugh, but the voice is too pretty) which I kind of loved for how off beat a suggestion it was.

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSteve_Man

Toni Colette as Ursula please. Thanks.

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDave in Hollywood

I know he screwed the pooch on Peter Pan, but I wouldn't mind Joe Wright doing this. In fact, I'd just love him to tackle musicals in general.

As for casting... what's the age they're going for Ariel/Eric? Matt Bomer came immediately to mind, but is he too old (40)? PROBABLY.

For reference, the actors playing Aladdin and Jasmine are 26 and 24 respectively.

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

Am I the only person who thinks it's important that Ursula and Ariel (especially Ariel) be good at singing?

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCash

Cash - Ariel, yes. Ursula? I think acting is most important on her part. The voice actress of Ursula in the original movie didn't really SING, she just really knew how to act with her voice.

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

Steve -- ooh, the Adele suggestion is actually pretty inspired and fun, def risky. I love it

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

I don't understand the age-inappropriate suggestions offered so far for the two leads (Chastain and Cavill -- WTF), but they're casting doesn't worry me nearly as much as Ursula's, which I can see going wrong on almost every level. I've always held firm to the notion that she should be a robust black woman, but Hollywood being Hollywood, I sincerely doubt that my hope becomes reality. Either way, I'm sure most people hired won't be able to carry a tune in a bucket if history holds.

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

For Eric, maybe someone like Diego Boneta

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterShane

@Troy H

Rob Marshall cast Latifah as Morton. He won't be apprehensive to the idea of a black woman in the role. McCarthy has the on paper edge. Wilson and Adele are terrible ideas. And Spencer bugging her eyes out is not my thing.

The black women I suggested including my lone white favorite Kathy Bates are fine choices for him to seriously consider and they could work.

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

Can Ocativa do a complete u turn on her persona and bring the crazy to this role.

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterUKmg

How about Daisy Ridley for Ariel? She's already in the Disney family and she can sing.

For Eric, just a few names... Logan Lerman, Derek Klena, Douglas Booth, Jack Lowden.

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

Ha ha, I remember trying to watch NINE on Netflix and literally unable to make it through the whole thing: I FFwd a lot. What a terrible film. The worst part was, the musical numbers and dance sequences were esp. bad. What is it about musicals these days where you don't even get to see more than a few seconds of uninterrupted dancing before the director/editor cuts away.

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRob

/3rtful -- omg. Loretta DeVine would be a genius move. Sadly it will never happen in a million years (and race has nothing to do with it so i dont want people to misinterpet this) because they have this strange belief that people need bankable stars in movies that are alreayd bankable even if you cast complete unknowns in them.

I have given up hoping for anything specific with the casting of musicals beyond "PLEASE BE ABLE TO SING!" i'm easy now. That's all i ask because getting that is miracle enough

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

son of a bitch

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterkris

/3rtful -- omg. Loretta DeVine would be a genius move. Sadly it will never happen in a million years (and race has nothing to do with it so i dont want people to misinterpet this) because they have this strange belief that people need bankable stars in movies that are alreayd bankable even if you cast complete unknowns in them.

I have given up hoping for anything specific with the casting of musicals beyond "PLEASE BE ABLE TO SING!" i'm easy now. That's all i ask because getting that is miracle enough

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Titus Burgess as Ursula.

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

Doug Jones for Ariel?

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBJT

/3rtful, yeah, but Mama Morton is a relatively small role in the movie and not nearly as iconic, and though I don't believe that Marshall would have a problem casting a woman of color, I could see the powers that be pressuring him otherwise for a number of reasons. I'm not saying a black actress definitely won't happen (if so, I'm sure it will be one of the usual, uninspired suspects); I simply won't hold my breath.

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

Loretta Devine is genius. Can we start a campaign for that? The campaign for Haddish to happen this awards season was successful so we can make that one too.

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSteve_Man

First, THE HARDEST OF EYEROLLS. Marshall isn't a bad director, he's just an uninspiring choice. Second, Tom Holland as Eric or bust. He doesn't have to sing, just stand there and look dreamy.

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCal

Mo'Nique would be PERFECT...if only she can sing.

Kathy Bates seems like a natural choice, plus she already has done a (TV) movie musical with Marshall: Annie. But, ageism in Hollywood as it is, I don't see it happening at this point.

Adele, if/when she ever decides to do a film, could find possibly no vehicle better suited to her and her talents than the Little Mermaid. I bet the producers and the studio already have been lobbying hard to enlist her. What a coup it would be.

I'm just glad Chloë Grace Slick of Monaco Moretz is no longer attached to play Ariel. Hooray!

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

Why not give this project to Patty Jenkins? She needs to do a musical after the lovely flair she showed with Wonder Woman.

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I shall be boycotting this film unless the actress playing Ariel has an amazing set of pipes. I will not listen to an Emma Watson calibre voice sing Part of Your World. Just no. Any live action version will never come close to the magic of the original.

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterChrisD

I think Loretta Devine is a fantastic choice.


Can Gabby Sidibe sing? Or Chrisy Metz?

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterFernando Moss

Rupaul for Ursula!

On paper the part calls for "charismatic heavyset woman." You could cast it that way, but miss every bit of subtext the character demands. Ru might not be a physical match for Ursula but she's the queen with the most gravitas (name recognition) and ability to interpret the hell out of "Poor Unfortunate Souls."

Ursula is supposed to stick out like a sore thumb. The minute you go for Queen Latifah (or someone you *expect*) you've sanitized the character's subversive nature.

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterHayden

French actor Jean Sorel looked like Prince Eric come to life in the 60s.

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTyler

Not gonna see it. Rob Marshall sucks.

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

Anybody but QWallis...

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTOM

Sofia Coppola wanted Kidman for her Universal adaptation. No kidding.

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterWhat could have been

Dove Cameron for Ariel.
Ginger Minj for Urusla.
T. Chalamat for Eric? Maybe Isaac Powell? This one is hard.

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBushwick

Not sure if she can sing, but what about Leslie Jones for Ursula? She's not the strongest actor either, but hot damn she's got the attitude in spades. The right director (aka not Rob Marshall) could really get her to deliver

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJS

URSULA has to be cast in DRAG! I like the idea of TITUS!!!

December 7, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterchris concert

Speaking of musicals...... I thought the The Greatest Showman was supposed to make a big splash this awards season?

December 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

3rtful - I'm being pernickety by a year, but would like to point out that Whoopi was better than great in Girl Interrupted a year later.

That said, if/when she commits to a serious acting return, I'd like her to sharpen her craft in small-budget dramas first - broad characters like Ursula really need someone who understands (and remembers) both big and small forms of acting.

Whoopi can do it, I just fear that after two decades of caricatures, she's forgotten how.

Anyway, Loretta Devine is the absolute perfect choice and (who knows, she was regarded as the stand-out in Scream Queens) stranger things have happened...

...who am I kidding - if McCarthy/Spencer/Latifah/Winfrey/Wilson express any interest she'll be cast aside in a second...

December 8, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterkermit_the_frog


I think you’re confusing Loretta Devine with Niecy Nash, who I agree was the stand out of Scream Queens

December 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJS

Why do we need this movie?

December 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

Outside of casting and the possible director, my big worry is how are they going to film the underwater sequences.

December 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

The pros & cons of casting this great role:
Kathy Bates - Seems a bit over the age range. I'm afraid that she might veer into the Annie Wilkes route.

Loretta Devine - I think that I'd almost prefer Jennifer Holliday. She deserves her time - seeing how she got kicked to the background during the whole 'let's herald Jennifer Hudson only' campaign during the 'Dreamgirls' release. Holliday certainly has the voice. It would be great if they could give Ursula her own 'mistoken'/Wicked type of showstopper.

Adele - This certainly is intriguing and would be want every 'soccer mom' driving their kids to the multiplex would want. (Wasn't she considering an 'Oliver' reboot?) I could go be interested. I 'd love to see her as a 'monster,' I just wouldn't want her Ursula to be saddled with some drippy 'broken-hearted, sobby love ballad...' (unless Adele writes it herself for another 'Best Original Song' win!

Mo'nique - She completely has the rage needed seeing how she got blackballed from the industry. Does she have a singing voice? My only reservation is when she transforms into a human after taking Ariel's voice. Who will be her human composite (Vanessa) - Gabby 'Precious' Sidibe?

Audra McDonald - Somewhat unknown.

Melissa McCarthy - Seems suitable, but she always seems to turn her plus-size characters into overweight buffoons. Show Ursula some respect!

Rebel Wilson - She does seem ideal. She has an octopus look about her and I can envision her swallowing a barrel of fish. Her voice is there from the 'Pitch Perfect' series.


December 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTOM

JS - I am an idiot - I think I pictured Loretta from her roving policewoman role in Urban Legend (?) and got mixed up...

December 9, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterkermit_the_frog

Why does Ursula have to be overweight?

December 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEvaG

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