Pepe Le Pew's Removed SPACE JAM: A NEW LEGACY Scene With Greice Santo Detailed
Controversial Looney Tune Pepe Le Pew reportedly had a scene with Greice Santo in Space Jam: A New Legacy; however, it did not make the rough cut for the movie -- but not because of the recent uproar.
Iconic Looney Tunes character Pepe Le Pew will not appear in Space Jam: A New Legacy, but his removal from the upcoming film apparently has nothing to do with the recent controversy surrounding the character's behavior. In the wake of New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow's article claiming that the cartoon character "normalized rape culture,"
Deadline has since reported that a scene with Pepe and Jane the Virgin actress Greice Santo was shot back in June 2019, but was left on the cutting room floor. The shot was filmed by the original Space Jam: A New Legacy director Terence Nance.
Under the direction of Lee, Pepe Le Pew was eliminated from the sequel a while ago and never animated for the live-action footage which was shot. According to sources who saw a rough cut three months ago, they didn’t see any kind of cameo by the skunk.
According to the source, the scene involved Pepe in a black-and-white Casablanca-like Rick’s Cafe sequence. The overzealous Pepe was playing a bartender and apparently starts hitting on the woman at the bar played by Santo. Pepe begins kissing her arm, but she rejects his advances, pulling back and then slamming him into the chair next to hers. She then pours a drink on his head and slaps him so hard that he starts spinning in a stool until LeBron James stops him.
James and Bugs Bunny ask about Lola, and Pepe knows where she is (probably with the Amazons). Pepe then reveals that Penelope -- the cat he constantly mistakes for a skunk -- has filed a restraining order against him, to which James responds that Pepe can't go and grab other Tunes without their consent.
Santo, who has been a victim of sexual harassment and has spoken out against it, was reportedly upset that the scene was cut. A spokesperson for Santo told Deadline:
“This was such a big deal for Greice to be in this movie. Even though Pepe is a cartoon character, if anyone was going to slap a sexual harasser like him, Greice wished it would be her. Now the scene is cut, and she doesn’t have that 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.”
It's unclear why Malcolm D. Lee chose not to keep the scene, especially since the director has been openly vocal about empowering women. For example, Lola Bunny has been reworked so that she reflects a strong and capable female character.
Warner Bros. has not yet responded to the controversy surrounding Pepe Le Pew, but previously the company has worked to modernize some of the more politically incorrect Looney Tunes. With Pepe Le Pew's behavior coming under criticism, this scene sounds like a reasonable way for Warner Bros. to address the character's unwanted advancements towards females.