The Marvel actress is set to voice the iconic Looney Tunes character in the new movie, though her physical appearance – namely that she is less sexualised than in the 1996 original – recently stirred an odd dialogue online.
Responding to the debate, Zendaya has admitted to Entertainment Weekly that she did not anticipate what came after the first look at her character was unveiled.
"I didn't know that was going to happen either!" she said. "I definitely know we love her, but I didn't know it was going to be as much of a focus as it was. [Laughs] But I understand, because she's a lovable character. She's very important, so I get it."
She added: "She's special to a lot of people and their childhoods and they've been able to grow up with her, so I get that sense of protection.
"I was like, listen, just as long as I did what the director and the producers and everybody wanted me to do, I'm just here to offer my services. [Laughs] No, but I felt really grateful just to have the opportunity."
Speaking further about signing on for this version of Lola, Zendaya added: "When [producer Ryan Coogler] told me about this, I was like, 'Whoa, this is a big deal.'
"They had already started that reimagining of what she was, and I guess there's some spiritual connection between who Lola is in this film and maybe who Zendaya is, and maybe my voice would make sense for that new version of who she is.
"So I felt very lucky that they wanted to do that with me. And it was a nice small part, so there's pressure for sure, but it could be worse – it could be all me. So there wasn't too much weight on my shoulders.
"But it was a really special experience, and I just leaned on our incredible director Malcolm [D Lee] to take the lead and tell me what he wanted. And I really enjoyed myself."
Ahead of A New Legacy's release, Warner Bros and ESPN have released a spoof documentary, which includes a first clip of Zendaya's voice in character.
Space Jam: A New Legacy is set for release on July 16 in the US, and July 23 in the UK.
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