Pepe Le Pew has been cut from the upcoming sequel ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’ — but could completed footage of his scene with actress Greice Santo exist?
A representative for Santo believes it does and is offering a $100,000 reward to anyone that provides the footage of their hybrid animated/live-action exchange.
The scene in question involves the problematic animated skunk approaching the live-action character portrayed by Santo in a bar. She pushes Pepe away when he starts kissing her arm before she pours her drink on him. She eventually backhands the persistent skunk, which sends his barstool spinning before it is stopped by the film’s star, LeBron James.
Santo, who posted a playful Instagram shot of herself on set, told the LA Times that she was disappointed to learn that the scene had been cut from the film. She said its message was meaningful to her as someone who has spoken out against sexual harassment.
“For me, it was so important to have this scene in a movie to inspire the younger generations, and also the older generations, so we can correct that behaviour,” said Santo, who is best known for portraying the telenovela character Blanca in ‘Jane the Virgin’. “I felt that this scene was a way to show kids that this kind of behaviour is wrong.”
Although Santo says she understands that things like this happen over the course of a production, she hopes the footage can be released in one way or another. And if it can’t, she says she will not be deterred from continuing her work for the cause. She has previously recorded a single about standing up to sexual harassment and her charity, Glam with Greice, works to uplift women who have been victims of abuse or bullying through Hollywood makeovers.
According to Deadline, which first reported on the deleted scene, the sequence was cut before Pepe Le Pew came under renewed scrutiny, including a New York Times column that said the character “normalised rape culture.”
The skunk was reportedly removed from the ‘Space Jam’ sequel by director Malcom D. Lee, who took over after the film’s first director, Terence Nance, left the production. The report also says that Pepe was never animated for the live-action footage that had been shot.
Santo said she learned that the scene was removed from a source close to the production but was not sure who made the decision.
Warner Bros. declined to comment.