Pepe Le Pew Was Cut Out of ‘Space Jam 2’
Space Jam: A New Legacy will bring back the Tune Squad for another epic animated basketball game this summer, but one of its members will not be with them. According to a new report, Looney Tunes member Pepe Le Pew will not appear in the film — after a sequence he was in was shot and then cut during early production.
The full details are over at Deadline. Pepe, the amorous skunk who relentlessly chases unwilling female mates who are repulsed by his odor, was “eliminated from the sequel a while ago” after A New Legacy’s original director, Terence Nance, left the project and was replaced by Malcolm D. Lee. Although the live-action portion of Pepe’s scene was shot, the animation was never completed for the sequence.
Here’s the description of what would have been his appearance:
Pepe was set to appear in a black-and-white Casablanca-like Rick’s Cafe sequence. Pepe, playing a bartender, starts hitting on a woman at the bar played by [Greice] Santo. He begins kissing her arm, which she pulls back, then slamming Pepe into the chair next to hers. She then pours her drink on Pepe, and slaps him hard, sending him spinning in a stool, which is then stopped by LeBron James’ hand. James and Bugs Bunny are looking for Lola, and Pepe knows her whereabouts. Pepe then tells the guys that Penelope cat has filed a restraining order against him. James makes a remark in the script that Pepe can’t grab other Tunes without their consent.
Pepe Le Pew first appeared onscreen in a 1945 Looney Tunes short called “Odor-able Kitty.” He remained a fixture among the characters for decades, but his mistreatment of the female animals in his life has made him a source of some controversy in recent years. (Just last week, a The New York Times column claimed he “normalized rape culture.”) Presumably, cutting the scene, even one that treated Pepe like a pariah, was done in the hopes of avoiding turning Space Jam: A New Legacy into a referendum on those issues.
But not everyone is relieved there won’t be a stink raised about a Pepe appearance. Greice Santo’s spokesperson told Deadline the actress is disappointed her moment was cut because now “she doesn’t have [the] power to influence the world through younger generations who’ll be watching Space Jam 2, to let younger girls and younger boys know that Pepe’s behavior is unacceptable.”
Space Jam: A New Legacy opens in theaters and premieres on HBO Max on July 16.
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