The makeup artist who helped Melissa McCarthy transform into Ursula for The Little Mermaid live-action remake responded to the criticism that the job should have gone to a queer artist. Back in May, Walt Disney Studios posted a behind-the-scenes video of Peter King doing McCarthy’s makeup for the role on Twitter. Reactions were largely negative. “We said Ursula was inspired by a drag queen we didn’t mean one who had only been doing it for 3 months,” wrote drag queen Sierra La Puerta. Drag Race contestant Kerri Colby added, “[This is] absolutely why we should hire up-and-coming queer artists with a pulse on the present and a vision for the future more often.” In the original 1989 animated movie, Ursula’s design was inspired by drag queen Divine.
King responded to the backlash in an interview with Insider, calling it “ridiculous” and claiming that Ursula’s final look in the live-action film was not based on drag performances. Of the criticism that a queer person should have been hired in his place, King said, “I find that very offensive. Why can’t I do as good a job as a queer makeup artist?” He added, “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.” King concluded, “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.”