Why was Jessica Rabbit Drawn that Way?
“I am not bad, I'm just drawn that way,” Jessica Rabbit seductively says. Ironically, she wasn’t always supposed to have her famous figure; instead, she looked more like your average princess. The change to her appearance came when Jessica’s voice actress, Kathleen Turner, saw the design and realized the character was “pretty, not sexy.” She started to tease the animators about adding her long legs to the character and said, “wouldn’t it be funny to have big you-know-what’s on her?”
Upon seeing the design, Kathleen Turner was a little disappointed and decided to tease her mostly male colleagues about the idea of her being over-the-top sexy. Until, one day, it stuck as a solution for animators. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? was a huge project creatively and a lot of young creators worked on the project as its oddball nature didn’t lure that many artists in. The creatives were young and problem solved often with the issues of cartoon characters appearing in the real world and vice versa, but a vast majority didn’t understand the artistic design process of “squish and stretch.” This principle is used largely in the movement for high-energy characters and posed a problem when animating Roger Rabbit. It’s also used in animation to make things bounce. A creative solution was then born to make Jessica Rabbit curvy for the sake of practice. Once an artist could successfully draw Jessica moving, they could begin to work on Roger.
The original design remains in the movie, which is in the newspaper article that Roger Rabbit reads about her “cheating” on him by playing patty cake with Marvin Acme. Animators didn’t realize it remained in the film till its debut and just hoped no one would notice.
All in all, the making of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? was chaotic and full of on-the-spot thinking. Jessica Rabbit’s figure was one of many creative solutions to create what is now a cult classic. For more behind the scenes magic of this film check out Prop Culture on Disney plus.
Writer: Alyssa Giaccone
Artist: Heather Peart