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The Little Mermaid Makeup Artist Defends Melissa McCarthy's Ursula Look

The Little Mermaid Makeup Artist Defends Melissa McCarthy's Ursula Look


The Little Mermaid Makeup Artist Defends Melissa McCarthy's Ursula Look
Screengrab via Twitter (Disney Studios)

He said he found it "offensive" to suggest that he can't do as good of a job as a queer makeup artist when it comes to the drag-inspired character's iconic face.

Despite a pretty stellar performance as Ursula, actress Melissa McCarthy's makeup look came under fire after a viral video of her transformation left fans more than a little underwhelmed.

In response, McCarthy’s makeup artist, Peter Smith King, who’s known for his work in The Lord of the Rings and the Mary Poppins remake, responded to the backlash. From telling Insider that he and McCarthy “discussed everything” to noting that he “didn’t draw on any” inspiration outside of his own ideas with her, King left out a pivotal role from the original Ursula’s inspiration: drag icon Divine.

The film’s original animator, Rob Minkoff, told Vogue that he sought inspiration from Divine for Ursula, stating, “Divine seemed like such a great, larger-than-life character, and it just seemed like a funny and quirky idea to take [Ursula] and treat her more like a drag queen.”

McCarthy herself even acknowledged the inspiration, telling Deadline, “I’ve watched The Little Mermaid more times than any other movie… I was always like, I know for a fact — but I couldn’t prove it — that she had to be based on Divine. She just had to be.”

King, however, doubled down on the criticism that, not only should the Ursula character have been played by an actual drag queen, but that the makeup wasn’t on par with what it should be, saying, “I find that very offensive. Why can’t I do as good a job as a queer makeup artist?”

He continued: “That’s ridiculous. That’s trying to claim it and that’s fine, if that’s what they wanna do, but don’t put people down because they’re not what they want it to be.”

In regard to who he chose as his inspiration for that character, King said it wasn’t “based on Divine,” but instead on someone he met in London, which just goes to further prove the importance of knowing your audience.

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Andrew J. Stillman