The Oscar-winning makeup artist on Disney’s new live-action The Little Mermaid has hit out at critics of his work transforming actress Melissa McCarthy into Ursula the sea witch.
British hair and makeup designer Peter King’s skills on The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King won him an Oscar in 2003.
But after Disney put out a teaser video of Melissa McCarthy in the makeup chair, his work on director Rob Marshall’s new film copped backlash, including from drag queens.
“We said Ursula was inspired by a drag queen we didn’t mean one who had only been doing it for 3 months,” Sierra La Puerta tweeted.
“Absolutely why we should hire up and coming queer artists with a pulse on the present and a vision for the future more often,” Kerri Colby tweeted.
Many said because it’s well-known that Divine inspired the original Ursula, Disney should’ve tapped a queer makeup artist for the gig.
Speaking to Insider, Peter King said his Ursula isn’t based on Divine – or any drag at all – and he very much disagrees with the criticism.
“I find that very offensive. Why can’t I do as good a job as a queer makeup artist?” he said.
“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.
“I personally don’t get it. Yes, I’m very old now, so that’s fine, I get that too.
“But you know, a makeup artist or makeup designer could design makeup. They don’t have to have an attachment to the nature of what they’re doing.”
— Walt Disney Studios (@DisneyStudios) May 16, 2023
— Sierra La Puerta (@_SierraLaPuerta) May 17, 2023
– absolutely why we should hire up and coming queer artists with a pulse on the present and a vision for the future more often. Yes I agree, this is that.
— Kerri Elyse Colby (@kerricolby) May 17, 2023
Melissa McCarthy talks Divine influence
Melissa McCarthy said she watched the 1989 Little Mermaid “every night” while working as a nanny earlier in her career.
“I always was like, I know for a fact — but I couldn’t prove it — that she had to be based on Divine,” Melissa told Deadline.
“She just had to be. I was like, ‘the makeup, the look, the attitude.’ And now we know that yes, she was of course based on Divine.
Melissa added, “I just hope to do every incredible drag queen proud and Divine proud. Just to give that same [attitude]… Give it your all, throw it out there, no apologies, do it your way.
“I wanted to give [Divine] everything she was due.”
— Deadline Hollywood (@DEADLINE) May 9, 2023
The Little Mermaid is in cinemas now.
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