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Disney's Live-Action Little Mermaid Has Reportedly Found Its Sebastian

A breakout Broadway star may be making his way from the stage to the sea.

According to Variety, Daveed Diggs — who won a Tony Award for Best Supporting Actor for his dual role as Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in the musical Hamilton – is reportedly in talks to join Disney's upcoming live-action remake of The Little Mermaid. Diggs is said to be up for the voice role of Sebastian the singing crab.

Helmed by Rob Marshall — who has directed several critically acclaimed musical films and adaptations including Chicago, Mary Poppins Returns, and Into the Woods – this live-action remake of The Little Mermaid has been making waves for months, with Halle Bailey leading the cast as Ariel herself.

If Diggs does officially join this project, he'll reunite with his most high-profile Hamilton colleague. Lin Manuel-Miranda, who won several Tonys for writing the book and music for the juggernaut musical, is writing new songs for The Little Mermaid remake alongside original songwriter Alan Menken. 

As well as Bailey (whose casting stirred up some unfortunate controversy upon its announcement), Diggs will join Academy Award nominees Melissa McCarthy and Javier Bardem as the cunning sea-witch Ursula and Ariel's father King Triton, respectively, if he boards The Little Mermaid. Also in talks for the new Little Mermaid movie are Awkwafina as a gender-swapped version of Scuttle the seagull and Jacob Tremblay as Ariel's fish friend Flounder. 

Since he left Hamilton in 2016 shortly after he won the Tony, Diggs has kept busy in television and film. On the small screen, he has appeared on shows like black-ish, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Netflix's The Get Down. In 2020, Diggs will lead a television adaptation of Chris Evans' 2013 dystopian film Snowpiercer. He also earned critical acclaim for his 2018 film Blindspotting, which he wrote, produced, and starred in as one of the two leads.

A diverse new cast for a Disney classic

Capitalizing on nostalgia has proven pretty successful for Disney over the years. Ever since Jon Favreau kicked off the craze with The Jungle Book in 2016, live-action Disney remakes like Beauty and The Beast and The Lion King have served the studio incredibly well at the box office, allowing longtime fans and new generations alike to experience fresh takes on classic stories. 

Should Diggs officially board The Little Mermaid, the live-action remake will prove to be different in a remarkable way: its cast is incredibly diverse. Currently, the majority of the cast is made up of actors of color, and Diggs would continue that groundbreaking streak. 

In an extremely unfortunate turn, The Little Mermaid's casting decisions have ruffled some feathers over the past couple of months. As we mentioned, Bailey, a black singer and actress, assuming the role of Ariel caused a stir amongst fans who insisted that Ariel must remain pale with red hair. The furor grew so loud that original Ariel voice actress Jodi Benson even spoke out to support Bailey. Ultimately, though, Bailey handled the criticism with aplomb and grace, earning praise from fellow live-action remake stars like The Lion King's Donald Glover.

If Diggs does join the remake's cast, he'll certainly be in good company. Fans of Hamilton and The Little Mermaid alike will likely love his take on Sebastian, but it remains to be seen if the rapper-turned-actor will actually take on this iconic role.

The Little Mermaid is scheduled to start production sometime in 2020.