SPACE JAM: A NEW LEGACY Director On Why Pepé Le Pew Was Cut From The Film
A scene involving Pepé Le Pew and actress Greice Santo was apparently shot for Space Jam: A New Legacy back in 2019 by Terance Nance, but director Malcom D. Lee ultimately decided to remove it. Here's why.
Earlier this year, Looney Tunes lover Pepé Le Pew came under fire when New York Times columnist CHarles M. Blow argued that the character "normalized rape culture." The skunk's relentless pursuit of a female black cat — while once viewed as overly aggressive romantic behavior — is now viewed as problematic, especially in light of the recent #MeToo movement.
Shortly afterward, it was revealed that Pepé Le Pew's scene in Space Jam: A New Legacy was removed from the film; however, the cause of its removal apparently had nothing to do with the character's controversial behavior. Speaking to Yahoo Entertainment, director Malcom D. Lee explained why the scene was cut from the film.
"Well, you know, number one, the incident or the scene in question was something that was shot before my time on the movie and it didn't work for the movie. We tried to place Pepé on a couple of places. The jokes never really landed for us, for him. And so, you know, we had a limited time of, you know, the amount of Tunes we could work with. So, you know, Pepé was casualty."
When pressed on whether or not Pepé's controversial behavior was factored into Lee's decision to remove the character, the director replied: "That has nothing to do with what we did."
The scene that Lee is referring to was previously detailed by a source close to the project. It involved Pepé hitting on a woman in the bar played by Jane the Virgin actress Greice Santo, who was actually upset that the scene had been cut. As detailed by the source:
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.
The scene sounds like it had potential for a laugh — or to teach a valuable lesson at the least — but I can definitely also see how it was deemed unnecessary in the grand scheme of the film's story. It's unclear what other scenes of the movie Pepé was featured in and it's doubtful we'll ever get to see them.
Warner Bros. never actually responded to the controversy surrounding Pepé, but the company apparently has no plans to use the character in future projects.