Why The Little Mermaid Remake Made Ursula’s Makeup Imperfect On Purpose

Peter Swords King started by saying that he wanted his version of Ursula to skew away from the drag queen aesthetic that initially inspired the animated Ursula. He explained:

“Although inspired by drag queens, I didn’t want her to look like a drag queen. […] I wanted it to still be Melissa, and I think she liked the fact that it was still her, so we could see it was her.”

King also addressed some backlash to his designs that he encountered on social media. When the first previews and posters of Ursula were first released to the public, many fans noticed that her eyebrows were imperfect. This was unusual for Disney, whose productions are usually scrubbed squeaky clean and polished to be ultra-slick. King went on record saying that the asymmetry of Ursula’s eyebrows was an intentional design choice. After all, wouldn’t Ursula the Sea Witch be applying her own makeup? She’s a half-octopus outcast. She likely doesn’t have “a makeup guy.” In King’s words: 

“If you look at her eyebrows, they’re not perfectly identical. […] No one’s eyebrows are perfectly identical unless they’re plucked or threaded to an inch. I don’t like super-manicured eyebrows. It starts looking a bit forced. […] We thought it would be funny if her makeup was bad and that she’d done it herself. We tried to smudge the lips and it didn’t work because it was just too bad. So the only thing I did was raise her eyebrows slightly differently.”

The look gave Melissa McCarthy a “cocked eyebrow” look that added to the sassy nature of the character.

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