‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’: Jessica Rabbit’s Voice Actor Suggested a Surprising Change to the Character
Disney hesitates to plaster their name across Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg’s Who Frames Roger Rabbit. While available on Disney+, violence, alcoholism, and the intentionally oversexualized Jessica Rabbit does not fit Disney’s usual style. Kathleen Turner, Jessica Rabbit’s voice actor, admits responsibility for some of Jessica Rabbit’s more controversial attributes.
A sexist depiction or feminist satire
Who Framed Roger Rabbit broke new ground in the world of animation. Combining live-action actors like Bob Hoskins and Christopher Lloyd with animated Toon in a way that looked real astounded audiences.
The acting methods of filming a scene with one real actor and an invisible one were brand new. Nowadays, with CGI, acting alongside invisible characters is almost routine.
Zemeckis’ film owes much of its identity to the 1940s film noir films. The hard-boiled, heavy-drinking detective, twisting murder plots, and Femme Fatales.
The animated/live-action hybrid serves as both a love letter to the style and a satire.
Eddie Valiant’s drinking is addressed as a character flaw instead of using it to make him appear as a ‘tough guy.’ Likewise, Jessica Rabbit is meant to be dialed to 11, as if she was a Toon drawn by a misogynistic artist.
After all, she’s not bad, she’s just drawn that way.
Surprisingly, in the Disney+ show Prop Culture, Jessica Rabbit’s voice actor Turner said she suggested giving Jessica Rabbit even more curves than Zemeckis and her male castmates designed.
Kathleen Turner wanted Jessica Rabbit more exaggerated
Turner discussed considering the physicality of the Toon, how she moved when breathed, or spoke with her big lips.
“Oh, it was such fun,” Turner reminisced in the Prop Culture episode. “We’d say ‘let’s make her a little breathier!’ Alright, why not!”
Discussing the design of the character further, namely the changes Jessica underwent from draft to model to final frame, Turner admitted her role beyond voicing the character.
“Honestly, some of that is my doing. I suggested that her legs be longer because, frankly, I was rather known for that myself. And the bustier business came about because I kept saying ‘Wouldn’t it be funny, Bob, if we get some really big [gasps] in there, we can bounce ‘em!’”
As Jessica Rabbit’s voice actor reembodied the character in the interview, demonstrating the breathiness as she described it.
Turner loved being Jessica Rabbit’s voice actor
Even years later, Turner reasserted how much fun she had as Jessica Rabbit’s voice actor. She looked at an animation cell of Jessica and talked about her love for the character again.
In a day and age where there is a push for body positivity of all shapes and sizes, Turner reiterates what Jessica said throughout the film.
“It’s really not her fault,” Turner said. “She’s so misunderstood.”
The overexaggerated Toon holds a special place in Turner’s heart, likely because she had a hand in all aspects of her character. Turner asserts Who Framed Roger Rabbit as a legitimate work of art, and agrees with it as a classic movie in filmmaking.