Once Upon a Time Casts Alias Alum Merrin Dungey as Ursula

Alias alumna Merrin Dungey is returning to ABC by way of Once Upon a Time, in the recurring role of the delectably dreadful Ursula.

As reported by EW.com, the sorceress of the sea will act in cahoots with Kristin Bauer van Straten’s returning Maleficent and the recently cast Victoria Smurfit’s Cruella de Vil.

As Once coceators Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis shared for TVLine’s Fall Finale Preview, the stage soon shall be set for “an embarrassment of witches” during Season 4B, as “things gets classically evil” in The Enchanted Forest.

Ursula, in a sense, previously appeared on Once Upon a Time during Season 3’s Neverland arc, when in flashbacks Regina impersonated the voluptuous villainess, to dupe that little mermaid Ariel (played by JoAnna Garcia Swisher). At one point in that same arc, Community‘s Yvette Nicole Brown voiced the actual Ursula; Brown now is a series regular on the midseason CBS comedy The Odd Couple.

Dungey’s recent TV credits include episodes of CSI (airing this Sunday), Chasing Life, Rizzoli & Isles and Trophy Wife.

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  1. Cory says:

    What is OUAT doing? Emma versus Disney’s House of Villains? LOL! I can’t wait to see this though, Ursula is one of my favorite villains!

  2. Lizo says:

    Considering Ursula is one of the few icons us fat ladies have, I would have liked them to cast a fat woman in the role. Why can’t Brown play her? But I guess it’s something that they cast a woman of colour.

    • Jack E. says:

      YNB is currently taking care of her ailing father and probably wouldn’t want to commit to something that shoots in Vancouver, even if it was just for a small arc.

    • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

      Also, YNB is a series regular on the midseason CBS comedy The Odd Couple (now added to story): http://tvline.com/2014/10/04/yvette-nicole-brown-the-odd-couple-series-regular-cbs/

    • thisismenow says:

      I would have preferred someone with more meat on their bones playing the role also. I’m not a big person, but I would prefer to see more real sized woman on television to inspire young women to be proud of who they are.

      • But... says:

        Look, obviously media should reflect the diversity of body sizes that women are in the real world.

        But “real sized woman” is just a poor way to comment on this. Thin women ARE real women too. I don’t want to start a longwinded debate on this on a OUAT story, but not casting someone just because they are “thin” is just as bad as not casting someone because they are considered “big.”

        Let’s just see how her acting is and give it a chance.

        • Lizo says:

          I agree with you that saying ‘real women’ is problematic. All women are real women and we need to embrace the diversity of bodies we have. That said, I strongly disagree with your statement that it’s the same to not cast a thin person as it is to not cast a large person. Thats just not true. Fat people are systemically NOT cast on television (save for a handful who’ve made it through). Thin people are the default.

          • IFiguredItOut says:

            Yes, they aren’t casted as much but you’re saying it’s okay to discriminate in a different way. That’s just as bad as the initial discrimination. I know it’s not going to be an easy road but we JUST need to learn to take people for what they are and stop separating everything by who’s what, who likes who, and who has color or doesn’t.

          • SLS says:

            Yes – well said!

        • G. says:

          “Look, obviously media should reflect …” BUT ….

          The ‘but’ makes everything before it meaningless.

        • “… but not casting someone just because they are ‘thin’ is just as bad as not casting someone because they are considered ‘big.'”

          “I HATE THIN ACTRESSES!” … said NO casting director EVER.
          Thin women are not discriminated against by any media outlet, any clothing designer, any casting or talent agent, any people walking down the street, and the list goes on and on. You getting the point?

          • Demper says:

            Body shaming goes both ways. Every heard “you need to put some meat on your bones” or “you need a sandwich” or “she looks anorexic!”? Probably not, because you’re too busy with that 20 pound tub of ice cream you cry into every night.

        • Kate says:

          Yeah…but they cast more “thin” women than “big” women

      • Demper says:

        when people say “real size women” they mean to say obese.

        • I’m pretty sure ‘real size’ is something more in the 6 or 8 thru 14 or 16 category. Everyone has different ideas … a lot of those women aren’t obese.

          Size 0 and 00 are not real human sizes that normal, healthy human beings have. They just aren’t.

    • Gigi says:

      I can think of a couple of better icons if you feel the need for an “fat” icon, such as The Fairy Godmother or Merryweather. As a larger woman myself, I never thought I needed an icon in a storybook character. I tend not to label people by their size, color or any outward appearance, It is their heart, intelligence and soul that I care about. Thank you for allowing to voice my opinion.

  3. I am glad that Ursula will be play by a real actress and not someone that Regina was hiding behind. I can’t wait to see what kind of trouble that she will cause.

  4. Jennifer says:

    Lovin’ the focus on female characters. Now if only they could all make it out of season four alive…

  5. Simon says:

    For me she’ll always be remembered as Kelly Palmer on King of Queens. God i miss that show.

  6. Zach says:

    Aww I was hoping they would get YNB to actually play her. She seems to love Once so that would’ve been cool.

  7. Arie says:

    LOVE Merrin! I just hope she won’t be replaced by Audra McDonald again…

    • RobAndCo says:

      I laughed so hard at your comment, thank you random internet stranger. Though Audra is fantastic and would make one hell of an Ursula.

  8. sofia says:

    We’ve already got the Evil Queen, and Maleficent is coming back. And now there’s also Cruella and Ursula. The writers better recreate the image of the Disney villainesses having a poker night this season. LOOOL
    (It wouldn’t even be the weirdest thing they’ve done on the show so far.)

  9. abz says:

    All these classic villains together. I’m so damn excited. I can’t even imagine what they are planning to do with all of them. I wanna hear their evil laughs and see them all plotting together or doing something evil. With the Snow Queen, I understand a lot of the gray area with her character, but with these classic Disney villains, I would kind of love to just see them be pure evil. It’ll be so much fun to watch.
    I do wish they had someone who could have actually resembled Ursula a bit more. Someone with a little more meat on their bones.
    Also, I’m guessing there might be a chance we’ll be seeing Joanna Garcia again as Ariel since Ursula’s back.
    It’s gonna suck waiting two and half months after the winter finale till it returns in March.

  10. Kristy says:

    This is fantastic- Loved her on Alias. Can’t wait to see evil Francie’s spin on Ursula!

  11. D. says:

    Seriously? Why does everybody need to be skinny and beautiful on american tv? I’m sure there are lots of talented “chubby” actresses. Not cool, OUAT producers.

  12. Andy J says:

    The problem I have with Cruella de Vil on “OUAT” is that Cruella, while evil, is not a witch but a normal woman. And since “101 Dalmations” was set in contemporary London there is nothing to tie Cruella to the Enchanted Forest.

    • abz says:

      I don’t think it’s a huge deal really. I mean who would’ve though Bo Peep would be magical in any way, but turns out she had a magical staff that controlled people or located them. Can’t remember exactly what it did, but it was magical. Can’t wait to see what twist they put on Cruella.

  13. Moment says:

    If Kathy Bates were a little younger, she would have made a great Ursula.

  14. Emme says:

    Not liking this casting.

  15. Joey says:

    Really would’ve preferred they held off on Ursula until YNB was available.

  16. Dennis says:

    Umm…Ursula was an obese octopus…pretty sure it doesn’t matter if the actress is thick or thin!!!

  17. kd83954 says:

    All of my favorite Disney villains in cahoots with one another? I can’t wait! This season has been superb!!

  18. Letti says:

    I’m interested, but I hope they’ll finally show the backstory of Aurora and Maleficent.

  19. Ram510 says:

    I literally just shouted “YES!” at work. Then realized its not Yvette playing Ursula and whimpered “no” now all my coworkers are looking at me strange haha. I’m happy we get an Ursula this season. Hopefully they can write character well enough they we can see Ursula for more than just half a season

  20. bytemebill says:

    I am so looking forward to Kristin Bauer Van Straten coming back as Maleficent. This batch of witches causing trouble should be interesting! While I have read comments from plenty of naysayers, I have thoroughly been enjoying this season. And I want to know what is the storyline for Will Scarlett.

    • Tom says:

      I hope it includes adding Anastasia and (what I really hope is her backstory) her mother Lady Tremaine and sister Druzilla so we can get more Cinderella.

  21. firelight09 says:

    Soo . . . Maleficent, Cruella De Ville, and Ursula walk into a forest . . .

  22. Morgona says:

    For those who are saying OUAT should cast a ‘chubby’ actress. OUAT already did showed us a ‘thin’ Ursula ( CGI and voiced by YNB ). I guess OUAT is going to give us more detail about (Once version of) her.

  23. Liz says:

    That sounds great! Let’s just hope that they don’t recast her as Audra McDonald. I think I would have liked Private Practice so much more if Merrin Dungey had stayed. I’m also eager to hear more about Ariel and Eric, hopefully? They kind of just dropped that question last spring.

  24. Ahmed says:

    Queen Latifah would be a great Ursula :/