In 1988, the groundbreaking comedy Who Framed Roger Rabbit hit the big screen, and animation has never been the same. The movie was about an alternate 1940s where humans and cartoons live alongside each other, and a detective is hired to find out who framed the cartoon Roger Rabbit for murder (as the title subtly implies). However, it was really about bringing together some of the most popular cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny into a live-action world. The special effects were amazing, and the characters became icons, but none more so than Jessica Rabbit.
With her ample assets, smoky voice and sultry attitude, Jessica Rabbit has become one of the most iconic cartoon symbols of sensuality in real life and animation. She was intentionally drawn with one of the most unrealistically desirable bodies in the world, so much so that when a woman has an exaggerated hourglass figure, she’s often compared to Jessica. With the 30th anniversary of Roger Rabbit, CBR thought it was time to take a closer look at the lady in red’s (in)famous look, how she was created, and what it took to get her on screen!
15. LADY IN RED
When Who Framed Roger Rabbit first hit theaters, Jessica Rabbit became a sensation but the home video release caused her some small amount of controversy. When the movie was released on home video, some viewers started slowing down the scene where Jessica Rabbit went flying off of Benny the Cab, because let’s be real here, people are weird. Then again, we’re doing this list, so who are we to judge!
At one point, Mrs. Rabbit spins around and her dress flies open, and a few frames could be seen showing nothing on beneath her classic garnet garment. It seems some bored animators might have drawn the scene, assuming no one would ever see it. Even though it wasn’t as detailed as certain fans would have liked, the moment was cut and repainted for future releases, so don’t bother looking for it, weirdos!
14. JESSICA GOT BIGGER
If there’s one feature that defines Jessica Rabbit, it’s her body, especially her upper half. It’s clearly massive, way bigger than most human women’s chests could be, which only makes it more cartoony, especially as a stereotypical idea of physical perfection. The creation of Jessica’s torso went through a lot of development and it definitely focused on… growth.
The idea for Jessica Rabbit was to create what was described as the ultimate male fantasy, and there’s no doubt that her attributes are valued by a certain demographic. In fact, director Steven Spielberg commented that as the character went through development, each version of the concept art made her grow more and more chesty. By the time she hit the big screen, her body truly defied gravity.
13. JESSICA’S INSPIRATION
While she seems to be a persistent part of pop culture, where did the idea for Jessica Rabbit come from? Obviously out of the fevered male imagination, but there’s a more complicated route. Jessica Rabbit is one of the characters who appeared in the novel that inspired the movie, Who Censored Roger Rabbit. The book’s author Gary Wolf says he was inspired by Tex Avery’s classic bombshell Red from Red Hot Riding Hood.
When it came time to make the movie version, animators said they gave her the voluptuous body of Red, the face of Rita Hayworth; the hair of Veronica Lake, and the overall look of Lauren Bacall. The combination was intended to be the ultimate male fantasy brought to life as a cartoon, and they did the job almost too well.
12. JESSICA’S BATH
Jessica Rabbit was a firestorm of raw libido in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but her role was well within PG rating, especially when you consider the cigar-smoking Baby Herman. Except for a game of patty-cake, she stayed pretty modest… but it turns out one scene would have crossed the line if it hadn’t been changed.
In one moment, Eddie Valiant went back to his office after a bath to find Jessica Rabbit waiting for him. In the original screenplay, it was Jessica who would have been taking the bath when Valiant walked in on her, and she would have been only partially covered with a towel. That might have made some audience members happy but not Disney, so the scene was rewritten to what we saw on the screen.
11. JESSICA’S BEAR TRAP
Jessica Rabbit is first and foremost a woman, but she’s also a cartoon. The latter is usually overshadowed by the former because she wasn’t very cartoon-like. Her face and expressions stayed pretty realistic except for the moment when she screamed about Doom’s dip. However, she did have one more cartoonish attribute: her cleavage.
When one of the Toon Patrol weasels tried reaching into Jessica’s décolletage, his hand came out with a bear trap. Since the bear trap was way too big to fit in there, it seems her chest is what’s known among fans as a “hammerspace,” a storage area that’s an alternate dimension to explain how cartoon characters can pull out large objects from nowhere. Bugs Bunny used a hammerspace a lot when he seemed to have disguises and weapons always ready.
10. JESSICA MOVED IN REVERSE
Jessica Rabbit’s chest was designed from the very beginning to get a lot of attention, and it succeeded. To do that and make her seem more unreal, there were moments when the animators cheated the rules of physics. When she would walk, her body bounced up and down, which should have made her chest move in reverse.
Instead, there are moments when she moved down and her chest moved down as well, and the same thing happened if she moved up. That gave her a more ethereal and unrealistic quality, as if her assets had the power to defy gravity. You may have seen the movie a thousand times but were too distracted to notice it. Next time you watch the movie, look closely and you’ll see it.
9. THE ORIGINAL JESSICA RABBIT
You may know that Who Framed Roger Rabbit was based on a novel called Who Censored Roger Rabbit by Gary Wolf, published in 1981. You may also know that the movie made some pretty big changes to the story from the novel, but you probably don’t know how big.
Let’s take Jessica Rabbit. She was a very beautiful humanoid in the original novel, and was married to Roger Rabbit. Yet, unlike the movie, Jessica Rabbit didn’t love Roger. In fact, she hated him and was one of the prime suspects in the murders of the story. She was also a model (not a singer) who used to do X-rated comics, and offered her body to anyone who would boost her career. That included Valiant. In other words, the book-Jessica is everything the movie-Jessica isn’t.
8. KATHLEEN TURNER’S VOICE
At the time of Who Framed Roger Rabbit’s release, the identity of Jessica Rabbit’s voice was supposed to be uncredited, but no one was fooled. Everyone recognized Kathleen Turner’s voice because she was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood at the time, as were her dulcet tones. Starting in 1981, Turner had a string of hits from Body Heat to Romancing the Stone, all making her husky voice much in demand.
She took the role of Jessica as a favor to director Robert Zemeckis, and because she was nine months pregnant at the time, so she didn’t have much on-screen work she could do. The reason why it was uncredited has been the subject of speculation, but we know the credits ran 10 minutes even without her. The role turned out to have staying power and she says she autographs more photos of Jessica Rabbit than of herself
7. JESSICA’S DELETED SCENE
In the movie, there are many suspects in the murder of Marvin Acme and one of the biggest is (of course) Roger Rabbit. Another suspect in the movie was Jessica Rabbit. Of course, Judge Doom was the biggest baddie in the movie, so it wasn’t much of a surprise when (spoiler alert) he turned out to be the killer. Yet a deleted scene would have cast more suspicion on Jessica.
In the scene, Valiant broke into Jessica’s dressing room where he was knocked out. When he woke up, he found Jessica Rabbit sitting in front of him, along with Judge Doom and the weaselly Toon Patrol. Seeing Jessica hanging out with Doom sure made her look guilty, although it turned out she was innocent and was just working with Doom to try to protect Roger.
6. JESSICA’S DRESS
Jessica’s dress is one of the most iconic in film, and certainly in animation. With its simple lines, plunging neckline and thigh slit, it reveals as much as it hides, and is always the biggest part of any Jessica Rabbit cosplay. Like all toons, she never wore anything else so it’s become as much a part of her body as any other.
In the original concept, the dress would have made an even bigger impression because it was supposed to sparkle throughout the entire movie, but that proved too difficult. The decision was made to have her dress sparkle only on her first appearance at the Ink and Paint Club (which could be explained by the stage lights) and stay a solid red for the rest of the movie.
5. WHY JESSICA RABBIT WAS MADE
“I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.” It’s the most famous line of Jessica Rabbit and one of the most famous lines in all of movie history. Yet for all its allure, there’s something you might not have noticed. She said she was drawn, which means she was created as a cartoon by someone. The question is why? Why would someone make such an attractive cartoon? And who?
The answer may lie in an unproduced sequel called Roger Rabbit II: Toon Platoon. Set during World War II, the prequel would have shown Jessica before marrying Roger as a radio personality-turned-Nazi spy. With her charms and physical attributes, she would have been forced to record propaganda to American soldiers with her sultry voice. You couldn’t make a better seductress than Jessica if you tried. Maybe the Nazis did!
4. FIVE WOMEN VOICED HER
Who is the voice of Jessica Rabbit? If you said Kathleen Turner, you’re only one-fifth correct. In fact, five women had a hand in giving her a voice on the screen. The first voice was Russi Taylor, who performed as Jessica Rabbit during screen tests. Taylor is a voice actress who went on to perform as the current Minnie Mouse, as well as Huey, Dewey and Louie.
Turner did perform as Jessica on the speaking portion of the movie’s final cut, but her song in the Ink and Paint Club “Why Don’t You Do Right” was performed by Amy Irving, director Steven Spielberg’s wife. Then there’s Rebeca Rambal, who performed as Jessica in the Spanish translation and Miyuki Ichijo who performed the Japanese version. It takes a village!
3. SHE SHOCKED BOB HOSKINS
Jessica Rabbit made a big splash when she first appeared in Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but as shocking as she was to audiences, it turns out her amazing body surprised the cast members as well. For instance, during filming, much of the artwork was still being developed and that included the final design of Jessica Rabbit. Since she hadn’t been locked down, Bob Hoskins didn’t know what she would look like in the final cut.
During shooting, he was just told by the director Robert Zemeckis to imagine his ideal fantasy, the most beautiful woman he could conceptualize. He did, but Hoskins later said his wildest fantasies weren’t as overtly sexual as the final version turned out to be. Yes, Jessica Rabbit was better than Hoskins’ wildest imagination which has to be an achievement on its own.
2. JESSICA RABBIT ON THE SET
Who Framed Roger Rabbit was a huge technical achievement. It was the first time animated characters and live-action actors appeared on screen together in such a realistic and believable way. One of the biggest challenges of Who Framed Roger Rabbit was making sure the actors could perform without being able to see their cartoon co-stars on set. To help with their imagination, Charles Fleischer gave his lines on set while wearing a rabbit costume. As for Jessica Rabbit, the actors had to make do with a metal pole.
Once the filming was done, the task of drawing Jessica into the shots could begin. To help with the animation of her chest, the crew recorded video of Kathleen Turner breathing during her lines so the animators could draw the rise and fall of her cleavage properly. No expense was spared.
1. JESSICA’S FAMILY
The movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit never got into Jessica Rabbit’s family so let’s go over a little bit. Some people (including Eddie Valiant) were surprised to find out Jessica Rabbit wasn’t a rabbit since most toons have a last name that matches their species. In the proposed prequel for the movie Roger Rabbit II: The Toon Patrol, we would have found out her original name.
The story involved Roger getting drafted into World War II, and meeting Jessica. In her appearance, we would have found out her last name was “Krupnick” instead of “Rabbit.” You also may not have noticed at one point that Roger said “Uncle Thumper,” referring to the rabbit from Bambi. That means Thumper is Jessica’s uncle-in-law. Hollywood is a small town. Seems like all the rabbits know each other.
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