Ursula Is Ariel’s Mom In The Little Mermaid Remake?

According to Halle Bailey, Ariel is looking for a maternal figure in Ursala in the new live-action The Little Mermaid.

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

little mermaid

When Disney first began making live-action versions of their most famous animated features, many fans had a simple question: why bother if you aren’t going to change anything? And it seems that Disney might have finally gotten the memo when it comes to their upcoming live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Ariel star Halle Bailey explained a surprising reason why her character might fall for a spell cast by the wicked Ursula: Ariel is “looking for a maternal figure.”

The context for this quote is that Bailey was praising the immense talents of Melissa McCarthy and how she is able to bring Ursula to life in such a vivid and powerful way. “She has this very kind of maternal trickiness to her when it comes to tricking Ariel in the film, so I got to be consumed in her world and falling into her spell,” Bailey explained. While this sounds like an interesting character moment for both actors, it does drastically change the dynamic that we saw in The Little Mermaid back in the ‘80s.

In The Little Mermaid animated film, Ursula simply craved power, and she conned Ariel out of her voice with a magical spell so she could try to cast a spell of a very different kind on the handsome Prince Eric, all while holding Ariel’s soul hostage so that she has leverage over the mighty King Triton. In that film, Ariel falling for Ursula’s lies was simply due to the fact that the youthful mermaid is naive and quite literally doesn’t know any better. It sounds like the live-action movie is leaning on the notion that Ariel might see Ursula as a mother figure, and while this dramatically changes the context of their relationship, it does build off some of the background lore of the original movie.

the little mermaid

In the animated The Little Mermaid, we do not see Ariel’s mother, nor do we learn anything about her (this wouldn’t change until the 2008 direct-to-video film The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning, which introduced us to Queen Athena in a weird “how I met your mother” moment for older fans), and her absence informs the motivations of other characters. For example, King Triton is too harsh with his daughter because he has no kind wife to counterbalance his anger, and Ariel is a bit too naive because she never had a mother to teach her the ways of the world while Triton was busy ruling his kingdom. In her late mother’s absence, it actually makes a lot of sense that Ariel would latch onto the first maternal figure she runs into, and it would make sense that Ariel fell for Ursula’s scheme if she was too busy working on her mommy issues to think straight.

With this revelation about Ariel seeing Ursula as a mother figure, we are most interested in whether this live-action (and more adult-oriented due to its PG rating) version of The Little Mermaid is going to take any cues from the various stage adaptations. In some versions of that musical, it is revealed that Ursula actually killed Ariel’s mother, which would add some serious pathos to Ariel needing a maternal figure in her life. We won’t know for sure until the film premieres on May 26, but based on the terrible CGI from that first trailer, we’re worried that things won’t actually be better down where it’s wetter with this latest Disney adaptation.