The Little Mermaid is a big-budget epic, but that doesn’t mean the cast, under the direction of Rob Marshall, didn’t create a cozy filming experience.
“We worked on it like it was a small thing,” according to Daveed Diggs, who voices Sebastian. “It really felt like we were doing community theater. We were pushing boxes around to make sets… We got in this groove where it was, like, ‘That’s how you make art.'”
Melissa McCarthy, who plays Ursula, agrees. “Rob Marshall sets up this world that is like why I fell in love with plays. It feels so small and yet you know it’s this enormous thing, but it just feels like if we all do our best, maybe we can make a show.”
Actors who provided the voices in the film were not isolated to recording booths. “We were all together for quite some time in the studio in England,” says Jacob Tremblay, the voice of Flounder. “We just got to know each other so well.”
No stranger to voice work, Awkwafina who provides the voice of Scuttle, found her work on The Little Mermaid to be unique. “I’ve never read a scene with other actors.”
“I always feel that my job as a director is to protect the actors,” says Marshall. “Make them feel safe in a space where they can screw up and be terrible, and then get better.” That desire is what gives a huge epic like The Little Mermaid a feeling of family on the set. “It does feel small. It feels intimate. Because you’re creating. And you know what? Film is very intimate.”
The Little Mermaid swims into theaters on May 26, 2023.