‘The Little Mermaid’ Live Action: Daveed Diggs Is ‘Uncomfortable’ Playing Sebastian

Daveed Diggs is set to play Sebastian in the upcoming live action remake of Disney’s The Little Mermaid. During an interview, he revealed he has some reservations about the part. Here’s a look into what he’s done to play the crab just right.

Daveed Diggs near a wall
Daveed Diggs | Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

Why Daveed Diggs isn’t sure he’s a ‘smart choice’ to play Sebastian in the live action version of ‘The Little Mermaid’

It’s not clear what country the original version of The Little Mermaid takes place in, however, Sebastian seems to have a Caribbean accent. He also sings the songs “Kiss the Girl” and “Under the Sea,” which were clearly inspired by calypso music. While Sebastian is not explicitly from the Caribbean, he’s clearly a character inspired by Caribbean culture. This is the reason why Diggs has some pause about playing the crab.

“I worked harder on Sebastian probably than I have for any role in my life,” he told Collider. “I tend to say yes to things when I feel like I can do it, but I’m actually not sure I’m the smart choice or the person naturally who should be doing it. That’s true of Sebastian, for a lot of ways that are uncomfortable. 

“Under the Sea”

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“I’m not of Caribbean descent, doing that kind of work and trying to immerse myself,” he added. “I’ve spent a lot of time in Trinidad and I went to Jamaica to research, and I did a lot of voice work with Chris Walker and with the late Tony Hall, to try to get the voice right. But more than the voice, the thing about a dialect is that everybody’s voice is actually very different, so consistency is really more important than accuracy. Your speech pattern is based on culture, and that was the thing I didn’t wanna let down.”

Has Daveed Diggs enjoyed his role in ‘The Little Mermaid’ remake at all?

Despite any reservations Diggs has about the part, he still managed to enjoy himself. During an interview on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, he said he had plenty of fun with the role and enjoyed singing great songs for the movie. He noted the people around him encouraged him to take the role in his own direction. He also revealed he worked with Alan Menken, the musician behind the songs from the original Little Mermaid and other Disney films including Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, and Hercules.

Daveed Diggs on playing Sebastian in The Little Merimaid

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What other actors played Sebastian?

Notably, Diggs is not the first actor to play the part. Samuel E. Wright, a Black American actor, portrayed Sebastian in the original version of The Little Mermaid. Subsequently, Jamaican reggae singer Shaggy was Sebastian in The Little Mermaid Live!, a television special. The public doesn’t know how Diggs’ performance will compare to the performances of those who came before, however, we do know Diggs wants to portray Caribbean culture accurately through his performance.

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