The Little Mermaid’s Jacob Tremblay Responds to Flounder Memes, Design Backlash

Jacob Tremblay says there’s nothing fishy about Flounder’s realistic redesign in Disney’s live-action The Little Mermaid. The CGI fish’s voice actor defended his character’s look after posters for the re-imagining surfaced online, showing off mermaid Ariel’s (Halle Bailey) friends from under the sea: best friend Flounder, diving bird Scuttle (Awkwafina), and the crabby Sebastian (Daveed Diggs). Fans took to social media to compare the “live-action” Flounder to actor Steve Buscemi, criticizing the CG-animated character’s “skinny” design and less colorful scales when compared to the 1989 original animated version.

“I actually was shown the design when I went in for my audition. [Director Rob Marshall] had shown me. I just had complete faith in Rob,” Tremblay told Variety at The Little Mermaid premiere. “I thought it looked great, because that’s kind of like the puppet they had on set. And then when I went and saw the film — I watched it last night — I think it all just worked so well. I couldn’t imagine it looking different. I think they were geniuses, and they made it work so well.”

Asked about the Flounder memes by PEOPLE, Tremblay said that the character’s more realistic design “works out perfectly” for the live-action movie. “I think it matches everything,” he added. “So if it was different, I don’t think it would really work.”

The first Little Mermaid reactions from Monday’s Hollywood premiere have been mostly positive, with first audiences praising Bailey’s Ariel and calling the remake one of the better live-action re-imaginings.

The Little Mermaid is the beloved story of Ariel, a beautiful and spirited young mermaid with a thirst for adventure. The youngest of King Triton’s (Javier Bardem) daughters and the most defiant, Ariel longs to find out more about the world beyond the sea and, while visiting the surface, falls for the dashing Prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King). While mermaids are forbidden to interact with humans, Ariel must follow her heart. She makes a deal with the evil sea witch, Ursula (Melissa McCarthy), which gives her a chance to experience life on land but ultimately places her life – and her father’s crown – in jeopardy.

Disney’s The Little Mermaid opens only in theaters May 26th.