Despite appearing in the original Space Jam film, Looney Tunes character Pepe Le Pew won't be appearing in the new reboot.
A scene mixing live and animation featuring the French cartoon skunk was filmed under the movie's first director Terence Nance, however, it has now been cut after Malcolm D. Lee took over production, Deadline reports.
The publication states the character was dropped a while ago and had never been animated for the scene, which is said to have been a black-and-white sequence set in a bar.
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Pepe, the bartender, makes advances to Greice Santo's character by kissing her arm with her responding by physically rejecting him with a slap.
He then tells the film's human lead LeBron James and Bugs Bunny that Penelope Pussycat has filed a restraining order against him, with James remarking in the script that he can't grab other Tunes without their consent.
Deadline states Santo was upset with the removal of the scene, according to her spokesperson.
“This was such a big deal for Greice to be in this movie. Even though Pepe is a cartoon character, if anyone was going to slap a sexual harasser like him, Greice wished it would be her.
Watch: Pepe Le Pew removed from Space Jam sequel
"Now the scene is cut, and she doesn’t have that power to influence the world through younger generations who’ll be watching Space Jam 2, to let younger girls and younger boys know that Pepe’s behavior is unacceptable,” the statement read.
Although thought not to be linked, it comes as the overly amorous character was lambasted by New York Times columnist Charles M Blow in a piece that commented on the removal of several Dr. Seuss books by the author's estate over racist imagery.
Blow said Pepe "normalised rape culture" and followed-up the comments in a tweet where he posted a clip of the skunk from a sketch where he forcibly restrains and kisses Penelope.
RW blogs are mad bc I said Pepe Le Pew added to rape culture. Let’s see.
1. He grabs/kisses a girl/stranger, repeatedly, w/o consent and against her will.
2. She struggles mightily to get away from him, but he won’t release her
3. He locks a door to prevent her from escaping. pic.twitter.com/CbLCldLwvR
— Charles M. Blow (@CharlesMBlow) March 6, 2021
The writer also criticised Speedy Gonzales, a Looney Tunes character who speaks with a Mexican accent and wears a sombrero, and his friend Slowpoke Rodriguez.
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Blow wrote: “Speedy Gonzales, whose friends helped popularise the corrosive stereotype of the drunk and lethargic Mexicans”.
I am the voice of Speedy Gonzales in the new Space Jam. Does this mean they are gonna try to cancel Fluffy too? U can’t catch me cancel culture. I’m the fastest mouse in all of Mexico 💨 pic.twitter.com/Ov4wjO00kM
— G a b r i e l - I g l e s i a s (@fluffyguy) March 7, 2021
However, the voice actor behind Speedy, Gabriel Iglesias, defended the character in a tweet.
The comedian wrote: "I am the voice of Speedy Gonzales in the new Space Jam. Does this mean they are gonna try to cancel Fluffy too? U can’t catch me cancel culture. I’m the fastest mouse in all of Mexico.”