The Little Mermaid 2023 Remake Removed 1 Character from the Original — Here's Why

By Richard Nebens Posted:
The Little Mermaid Halley Bailey 2023

One key supporting character from 1989's The Little Mermaid didn't make Disney's live-action remake, and the new director explained why they were removed.

Director Rob Marshall and the cast and crew of The Little Mermaid delivered a grand-scale recreation of the classic 1989 animated movie, letting some of the biggest stars in Hollywood play on land and under the sea.

As is the case with most Disney remakes, the music from this film was a vital part of the story, with fans getting to jam to both remastered songs and the new ones specifically made for the 2023 version of Ariel and Eric's story.

Live-Action Little Mermaid Removes One Key Character

Chef Louis

In the latest issue of SFW Magazine, The Little Mermaid director Rob Marshall explained why Chef Louis and his musical number, "Les Poissons," from the original movie were removed from the live-action remake.

Marshall saw the scenes with Chef Louis, in which he chases Sebastian the Crab all over the kitchen, as something that didn't "work in a realistic way" when translated into a live-action setting:

"That’s when you realize we’re not an animated movie. The animated movie stays forever, and people can go and watch that. This needs to work in a realistic way. You have to be brave enough to make the tough choices."

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Marshall also dove into the challenges of making "Under the Sea" work in this new movie, revealing that he took an idea from Walt Disney himself, who worked with a ballet group while creating a piece from 1940's Fantasia:

"I took this idea from Walt Disney himself, because he worked with Ballet Russe when he was creating 'Fantasia’s' 'Nutcracker Suite.'"

For "Under the Sea," Marshall's biggest hurdle was finding fish and underwater animals that "had a natural sensibility towards dance" in order to make the scene work with only one real actor involved:

"We had to find photoreal creatures that we thought already looked like they were dancing. Like a ribbon eel, or a mimic octopus, or a starfish that looks like it’s doing cartwheels and spinning. We had to find fish that had a natural sensibility towards dance. Then we worked with the dancers to create this huge, massive number which has one live person in it. The rest is all CG."

Following filming, Marshall teamed up with artists who had worked on Disney's live-action The Lion King from 2019, who helped him bring so many underwater characters to life and made them sing and talk: 

"One thing that’s very helpful is that we meet all of these characters underwater. Above water, it’s a very real world. But underwater, that’s where you have merpeople, mermaids and people who sing and creatures that talk because it’s its own hidden world, and it’s a fantastical world."

Did Chef Louis' Absence Hurt The Little Mermaid Remake?

While removing Chef Louis was far from the only change made to The Little Mermaid to make it work better for the modern audience, it was one that added more of a sense of realism to this well-known animated adventure from Disney's Renaissance era.

His scenes from the original movie were some of the most cartoony parts of the story as he unleashed his fury in the kitchen while trying to capture Sebastian. Including this could have taken away some of the impact Marshall was looking for this time around.

While this change and others sparked some controversial feelings amongst fans, to put it simply, the world is a different place now than it was 34 years ago when the original movie debuted.

Having Chef Louis removed from the remake seemed to be done in service of the story as a whole, even considering his limited screen time, with Marshall admitting how tough of a choice it was to make such a drastic change.

The Little Mermaid is now playing in theaters worldwide.

- In This Article: The Little Mermaid
Release Date
May 26, 2023
Halle Bailey
- About The Author: Richard Nebens
Richard Nebens joined The Direct in March 2020, now serving as the site's Senior Writer and also working as an assistant editor and content creator. He started his journalism career as a hobby in 2019 and is passionate about sharing news and stories from the entertainment industry, especially comic book movies, comedy, and sci-fi. Richard looks to expand his knowledge about movies and TV every day, and he is eager to stay locked into the latest releases and breaking news at every opportunity.