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Interesting Roger Rabbit Facts

Thanks to Brian Reynolds (SouthrnFox@aol.com) and Sunrise Tippeconnie (Sunrise.Tippeconnie-1@ou.edu) for help with these facts.

Q & A with Gary Wolf

From: moen@cyberspace.com (Bruce Moen)

(Slightly edited log file from the August 2, 1995 Question and Answer IRC meet with Gary Wolf.) Q: What will be the fate of Eddie Valiant in the next movie?

Eddie may or may not appear in the next movie. If it's a direct to video, you probably won't see him since it will be entirely animation set in Toontown. If it's a live action release (still a possiblity -- Roger II has been on Disney's A list since 1989 and virtually everything on the A list gets made as a feature), he may or may not appear. If they use my book, he'll be there. There's a small but vocal contingent who want to do the next movie as a prequel showing how Roger met Jessica. If that happens Eddie won't be in the film since he and Roger clearly didn't meet until the first movie.

Q: How does the film compare to your original idea of Rogert Rabbit.

The film and my original idea are perfectly mated. I participated all along in the production of the movie. That's very unusual in Hollywood, for a writer to be involved, but Roger Rabbit was a very unusual project. Everybody associated with it really wanted to make it the best movie it could possibly be. There were times when I sat in rooms with 50 of the most creative people in the film business kicking around jokes to include in the movie. Of course, the plot line and some of the toon conventions had to change because I wrote a book and this was a movie, but the changes were all within the context of my original premise I.e. a world where cartoons were real. I've got no complaints.

Q: Why have there been delays in a new movie?

The delays with movie two have all involved the creative process. We want to make Roger II unique. That's not easy. We've been very close many times, but someone has always come up with something that might be better, and the project direction changed. This is very typcial of the way movies, especially innovative movies, get made. The miracle is that Roger I ever saw the light of day.

Q: In today's politically correct environment, do you think a movie/short version of Roger Rabbit could remain as free-wheeling as he was in the original full-length movie?

Oh, sure. Cartoons have always existed in a realm of there own. Cartoons were invented to poke fun at political correctness. The in jokes and the subtle humor are Roger trademarks, and nobody has every suggested taking them out.

Q: Are any more Roger shorts planned?

No more Roger short planned for the near future, but that could change at any time. The plan now is to release the three current ones on video.

Q: Were you involved with the creation of Toontown?

I participated in the planning for all of Toontown and rode the car toon spin ride many, many months before it officially opened. I think it's the best dark ride I've ever been on. The illusions are superb. And it has a story line. It's the only ride at DL in which it's actually a pleasure to wait in line. Like so many other things about Roger, there are hidden things throughout. Look closely, and you'll be amused.

Q: How many shorts have there been?

There have been three Roger Rabbit shorts--Tummy Trouble which showed with Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Roller Coaster Rabbit which showed with Dick Tracy, and Trail Mix Up which showed with Amblin's A Far Off Place. Roller Coaster is one of the funniest cartoons I've ever seen this side of Tex Avery.

Q: Is the new movie going to feature as many third party cartoon characters as the old one, specifically the Warner Bros. more current characters?

Hard to tell if the new movie will have as many Warner Brothers characters. Remember, when we did Roger, nobody was doing this kind of film. There was really not much call for Bugs and Daffy in a major motion picture. Now everybody is doing it. Hard to say how that will impact our stars. I can say that Bugs has a tough agent. He and Mickey had to appear on screen for the exact same amount of time, they had to be in every scene together, and they had to have exactly the same number of words of dialog.

Q: It appeared that Mickey was on just a fraction longer.

If you rent the laser disk version of the film, the non-letter-boxed version, notice how the scene with Mickey and Bugs was cropped. Guess who did the cropping!

Q: Have there been talks with Disney re the third book?

The third book, Roger Rabbit's Gossipy Guide to Toontown, will be a a graphic novel. It will be illustrated with photos which Roger has taken himself. They will all be in black and white and will pasted into the book like in an old-style photo album. In the story, Roger takes Gary Cooper on a guided tour of Toontown. In the process, they uncover a murder. Coop and Roger combine to solve it. The only negotiations thus far with Disney involve the approval processes for the artwork. That's a done deal. As I say, the book will be published when movie II comes out.

Q: Is Jessica Rabbit an ideal woman creation of yours, or is she based on any one or multiple women?

Jessica Rabbit is my idea of the perfect woman. But you must remember that I was an only child, no sisters, and grew up in a small mid-western town with no girls. The only women I knew were elderly school teachers and maiden aunts. So I invented Jessica to by. I based her on Tex Avery's Red Hot Riding Hood. In fact, if you watch that cartoon, you'll see RHRH doing a musical number which is a virtualy dupolicate of the one Jessica does in the Ink and Paint Club. Incidentally, because of my lack of understanding of women, I have been advised more than once to limit my writing to war stories and Turkish Prison movies.

Q: Which character does Gary Wolf feel he is most like or that he can most relate to?

Roger Rabbit is actually autobiographical. Roger is the essence of fun and good humor. Eddie is the soul of logic and by-the-book methodology. Together they make up one good person. I see them both as me. Incidentally, I named Roger after my only male cousin and Eddie after my father.

Q: Okay, then, what about the infamous nude scene?

:) What's the scoop with that?

The nude scene! I thought you'd never ask. The animators wanted to do an homage to Fleisher's Betty Boop. he had her topless in every movie, for six frames, invisible to the human eye. So they did the same with her in Roger Rabbit. When we decided to release the film on video, the producer went on Johnny Carson and spilled the beans. So we were forced to take it out. However, there are numerous other "spicy" numbers which remain. You'll have to find them yourself. But one of them involves Michael E's home phone number. And of course, the most famous shows Jessica sans underwear (not that she needs any, but hey it's the thought that counts)

Q: Do you know if, when RR II is released, there will be plush merchandise for the supporting characters? For example, Jessica?

For sure there will be plush merchandise on the main characters. It's hard to tell what kinds of merchandise will be available for Jessica. She's a tough one for Disney to merchandise. She's clearly more adult than Pocahantas (although they're shaped surprisingly similarly). Disney had The Jessica Store at Pleasure Island at WDW where they sold all kinds of Jessica merchandise. Including the best ever jessica watch. I've never seen a Jessica plush. Probably never will be. Too many guys might mistake it for a Jessica inflatable.

Q: Did you write instructions to leave a few frames uncolored so Jessica would be "nude/pantyless"? ;-) What part of Jessica did you think up first? :-)

The animators did the animation all on their own. Of course, everybody knew what they were doing and approved of it heartily. It was so in keeping with the premise. Jessica came to me full blown in a dream. A very good dream, if you must know.

Q: Did you have any say or input when they were looking for the voice actor for RR or the other characters?

When we were looking for a voice actor for Roger, Bob Z suggested a stand up comic he'd heard in L.A. That was Charlie Fleischer. I went to hear him with a number of the Disney Production staff. We all felt he was right. We called him in and he gave us a reading. He got the job immediately. He and I worked with the animators to perfect Roger's voice. Dick Williams felt that every truly great cartoon character had a speech impediment. We tried lisps, quacks, and a bunch of other stuff. Charlie came up with the stuttered P. After he did it a few times, we knew that was it. The other voices we tried to keep true to the originals. Mel Blanc did as many as he could, but was in very bad health and couldn't do Yosemite Sam. Roger turned out to be his last role.

Q: Did you approach Disney with the idea of Roger Rabbit, or did they come to you looking to do a new type animated feature?

Disney came to me. Somebody at my publishing house (I've tried to find out who so I could kiss him or her full on the lips) photocopied a copy of my book and surreptiously sent it to Disney. They read it and called my agent. He was as surprised as I was. I actually never thought anybody would invest the time, talent, and money in the project to do it right.

Q: Were the examples of the topless Betty Boop, and other nude things you were talking about planned?

No, the hidden stuff was not planned. Like so much of what happens extemporaneously in a great movie, they just sort of happend, and added to the ambience.

Q: Now that Disney is bringing back Mickey Mouse in a new cartoon ("Runaway Brain") -- do you think teaming up Mickey and Roger Rabbit has possilities, sort of like Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy?

Teaming up Mickey and Roger as Stan and Laurel certainly has possiblities. However, I think a better teaming is Roger and Bugs in a Lethal Weapon-type movie. Roger is the frantic one, Bugs is the brains. We've suggested it to Warner Brothers.

Q: How has WB received the Roger/Bugs idea?

They're still considering it. They've been looking for a starring vehicle for Bugs ever since RR came out. Like I said earlier, nothing in the movie business gets done at anything faster than slow glacier speed.

Q: When did you first get the idea for RR?

I had written three well-reviewed science fiction novels. They sold well as science fiction goes. They were all nominated for major awards. I figured since I wasn't making any money at writing anyway, I might as well write I got the idea for Roger something I really enjoy based on my two favorite subjects, film noir mysteries and cartoons/comic books/comic strips. When I was searching for a premise on which to hang the story, I was watching Saturday Morning cartoon strips. Purely research, mind you. I saw the Trix rabbit, Captain Crunch, Snap Crack and Pop, cartoon characters talking to real kids, and nobody seemed to think that was strange. That was it. I thought, what would a world be like if cartoon characters were real. I worked on the first Roger novel from 1971 until 1980. When I sent it to my published, Doubleday, they rejected it. Their reason?

They said nobody would understand it. I had never had a reject in my life. I started sending it to other publishers. It got rejected 110 times by actual count until St. Martins took a flyer on it. At last count, it was in its 14th printing, more than 1 billion people have seen it in the theaters, and there hasn't been one complaint from anybody that they couldn't understand it. A real tribute to the stupidity of the publishing industry and the intelligence of the average reader/movie goer.

Q: When writing the first novel, did you envision it to be a movie or just a novel...IE putting in special nuances that are designed for a film environment?

I never thought the first novel would be anything but a novel. And that's the way I wrote it. If you write things in one mileau with the intention of having them appear in another mileau, you're asking for a weak book. I always write books as books and movies as movies. That's why I've been so reluctant to translate one of my own books into a movie. I'm too close to it.

Q: What bits were left out of Who Framed Roger Rabbit and the shorts that you felt should have gone in?

In other words, what got edited out?

Nothing got edited out of the shorts. They appeared exactly as intended. The pig scene got cut from the movie. We really didn't know wether this would be an adult movie or a kids movie. A kids movie has to run around 90 minutes, so we had to cut it to somewhere close to that. By cutting the pig scene, we eliminate some of the mystery surrounding Jessica. it also causes a bit of a problem when Eddie comes out of his bathroom soaking wet wearing his underwear for no apparent reason. This scene was re-inserted when the film showed on TV.

Q: How much do you think Disneyland's "toontown" is a result of RR?

Do you feel any credit to you is due?

I think toontown is a direct result of RR. Naturally, I feel a sense of pride and accomplishment whenever I walk through it. It's like taking a trip through my own imagination. Like I said earlier, I'm a happy guy. I don't a bitch in the world with Disney. I'm probably the only writer in the world who's been treated fairly and whose ideas have been translated accurately to film.

Q: So these RR books are still out there?

Who Censored is still available in paperback. Ballantyne. Who Plugged only came out in hardcover. For some unknown reason, the publisher (Villard) never sold the paperback rights. It's long out of print. Now goes for fifty bucks if you can find one. An oridinal hardcover Who Censored (which features me on the cover as Eddie Valiant) goes for many hundres of simoleons if you can find one.

Q: Pig scene?

Pig scene--The weasels capture Eddie. They take him into Toontown where Doom and Jessica interrogate him. You get the feeling they're in it together. The Weasels take him back out to L.A. and dump him. He has a big animated pig's head on him. He says I've been pigged. It's actually in the previews, though not in the film. He goes back to his apartment and washes it off in the shower.

Q: Doesn't Eddie always shower in his underwear so he doesn't have to use the laundromat?

;-) Probably. I know I do.

Q: Has Disney approached you about any Florida projects based on Roger Rabbit?

Toontown was originally scheduled to become a WDW attraction, but as you probably know it's now scheduled for Tokyo first instead. Scheduled to open there April 19, 1996. Still right on target.

Q: What other cartoons are lurking in your imagination that we haven't seen yet?

I've just finished my sixth novel called Typical Day. It takes me back to my days of science fiction. Should be out next year. I just finished a new science fiction movie which may be out in two years. I don't get involved in the shorts, at least not in the story lines.

copyright © 1996 JimDavies: jimmyd@lanl.gov,