Harry Clayton-Wright interviews The Little Mermaid directors
A dream come true for one mermaid superfan
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Let me tell you a ridiculous story… When I appeared on Deal or No Deal a few years ago (see, I told you it was a ridiculous story), while talking to Noel Edmonds about what I'd do with the money if I won big, he asked me about my love of all things Ariel. "Well, she's a mermaid; and that's always a good thing," I said. During this conversation - my game was an hour long special on New Year's Day in 2010 - I also admitted that one of my biggest dreams in life is to meet The Little Mermaid and that, as a child, I'd pretended to be her in the bath.
Well, for some reason he, and the studio audience, found this quite hilarious. He asked me what I'd say to Ariel when I get the opportunity to be in her presence. "Little Mermaid, you've always been a hero of mine. Keep up the good work." I still think that's what I'd say. Short and sweet. I mean, what else can you say other than fangirling your tits off and crying like a preteen One Direction fan? I suppose I might ask her about haircare. Damn she's got great hair.
After I appeared on that popular television programme and from a place of not wanting to be remembered vaguely as an ex-game show contestant (not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you), I bought myself a computer with my winnings and decided to start making and uploading videos to YouTube. I wasn't sure of what I wanted to achieve, I just felt like being creative. My first upload? A video of me wearing a bed sheet and singing a Susan Boyle song against a dodgy green screen background of Paris. Natch!
One sunny day in April of that same year and a few videos later, I decided to film the act of me singing Part of Your World in the bath tub, just as I'd done as a little boy so many times before. Simple setup. Two cameras, me singing between them, I'm naked in the bath; lovely. Mum sighed her usual sigh and I uploaded the clip to YouTube. A few days later, and to my extremely pleasant surprise and amazement, Gay Times had picked the video up on this very blog!
Now, as an out and proud gay man and with GT being the first homosexual publication I'd ever purchased, to receive such prominent recognition from an organisation I love dearly meant the world to me. Still does. They even called me fit! Boom.
Fast forward a few years and some fabulous opportunities later - around 1.5 million views on YouTube, an appearance on an Australian breakfast television show, I've performed at Glastonbury and also had the chance to interview some amazing people for GT - I got the most exciting message I have ever received in my life. "Keep this to yourself but there is a very, very SLIGHT chance I MIGHT be able to send you to California to the studio where they made The Little Mermaid to look at the original designs and talk to the directors".
YEAH. SERIOUSLY. *breathes into a brown paper bag* What I learnt in the immediacy of receiving that message is that I'm actually able to stop myself from spontaneously combusting with excitement. A few weeks later, and unbelievably to me, I was on a plane headed to America on my way to interview the directors of The Little Mermaid for GT at Walt Disney Animation Studios. The whole thing is still an amazing and surreal blur. If I didn't have the video footage of me actually doing it, I'd probably think I was making this story up!
I got to talk with Ron Clements and John Musker, the film's directorial double act, about the origins of Ursula and the inspiration behind her character, aka Divine and Joan Collins. I got to talk to them about dressing up as Ariel. I got to talk to them about working with the legendary Howard Ashman - the film's lyricist and part of the songwriting team alongside Alan Menken. I got to talk to them about Part Of Your World nearly getting cut from the film. I got to talk to them about loads of cool stuff and you can read the full feature in the new issue of GT, on sale from Tuesday. Get it here.
Until then, you can watch this clip of the interview taking place and me trying not to explode with excitement from such an amazing, and once in a lifetime opportunity. I mean, when else can you sit down and have a chat with the men behind everyone's favourite sea witch!? Exactly. Enjoy!
The Little Mermaid: Diamond Edition is on sale from Monday, 2nd September.
Words by Harry Clayton-Wright (@HClaytonWright)