Here are some fun facts you may not know about the groundbreaking hybrid of live action and traditional cel animation that is Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988). Won’t you read it, p-p-p-p-please?!
Where’s the question mark?
Many people – or at the very least every single editor ever – has wondered where the question mark went from the movie’s title, especially as it was based on a book called Who Censored Roger Rabbit?. It’s thought that director Robert Zemeckis believes that there’s an old superstition in regards to movies whereby titles with question marks are doomed to tank at the box office. The makers of everything from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? right through to Dude, Where’s My Car? apparently don’t share this belief.
She’s not bad…
The impossibly, erm, buoyant Jessica Rabbit was an amalgam of four famous femme fatales – one of them drawn, and three of them human. The main inspiration came from the character of Red in Tex Avery’s Red Hot Riding Hood (above), while liberal dashes of Rita Hayworth, Veronica Lake and Lauren Bacall were mixed in.
Who’s your bunny?
Because actors had to act to nothing (the live action was filmed before animation began), aids were used to get eyelines and reactions right. These ranged from the simple – a tennis ball on a string – to the elaborate, whereby the voice of Roger, Charles Fleischer, would dress up in a Roger Rabbit costume to deliver lines for Bob Hoskins to play off. This was his idea, and he did it every day of shooting. Not surprisingly, many found it kind of weird.
What about Bob?
Director Robert Zemeckis and executive producer Steven Spielberg bandied many names about in their search for the perfect Eddie Valiant. These included Robin Williams, Wallace ‘inconceivable’ Shawn, Bryan Cranston, Ed O’Neill, John Ritter, John Travolta, Chevy Chase, Charles Grodin and Seinfeld’s Michael Richards. Eddie Murphy is said to have turned it down (and later regretted it), while Spielberg’s first choice Harrison Ford would have cost too much and Bill Murray apparently screamed (in public, no less) when he heard later that they really wanted him for the part but were unable to contact him. Meanwhile, a name familiar to many Australians, Don Lane, also apparently auditioned for the part. Few would argue that Bob Hoskins wasn’t a mighty fine choice in the end.
The possibles list of Doom
The list of names considered to play the villainous Dr Doom was even more expansive than that for Eddie Valiant. Sting, Roddy McDowall, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman, Vincent Price, Jim Carrey, John Lithgow, Willem Dafoe, John Malkovich, George Hearn, Gabriel Byrne, Tim Robbins, Michael Keaton, Alec Baldwin, Richard Gere, Jon Pertwee, Dudley Moore, Ron Perlman, Tommy Lee Jones, Ray Liotta, Thomas F Wilson and Jeff Goldblum were all apparently considered. Meanwhile, horror legend Christopher Lee actually turned the role down, despite being keen for the role John Cleese was considered too silly to be taken seriously as a sadistic baddie, and Tim Curry’s audition apparently absolutely terrified everybody involved with the production. Eventually, Christopher Lloyd totally owned the role.
Forget it, Jake…
Many have noticed that Who Framed Roger Rabbit shares several parallels with the 1974 noir-dripping crime thriller classic Chinatown, which starred Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway. Our story of a private dick and his bunny buddy basically tells the tale that was planned for a third Chinatown movie, one of corruption, roads and public transport that would have been named Cloverleaf.
Getting all their ducks in a row
Famous (and even not-so-famous) Disney and Warner Brothers characters sharing the one screen was unheard of before Who Framed Roger Rabbit came along. It was like if Mario and Sonic share… oops, bad analogy. Anyway, needless to say the pairing of the two animation giants’ creations was fraught with politics, so the likes of Warner Bros’ duck and rabbit had to have equal screen time with any Disney properties. As such, they always appeared in pairs, such as in the magnificent Donald/Daffy piano battle (above).
You spin me round (like a record)
Who Framed Roger Rabbit was the most expensive movie of the 1980s – with an estimated production budget of US$70 million. With nearly 400 animators working on it, the movie also boasted the longest onscreen credit roll ever.