Terry Gilliam was initially offered the job of directing this movie, but turned it down because he considered it "conceptually inauthentic to use the Looney Tunes genre/character stable as a springboard for a variation on the Howard the Duck (1986) story".
Benny the Cab drives across a bridge while being pursued by the Weasels. The bridge is the "Hyperion Bridge," which crosses a freeway near the OLD Disney Studio down in Hollywood; the one they had before they built the one in Burbank (around 1939).
Bob Hoskins watched his young daughter to learn how to act with imaginary characters. He later had problems with hallucinations. Hoskins' son was reportedly furious that his father hadn't brought any of his cartoon co-stars home to meet him.
Some scenes of Eddie Valiant in the taxi are actually drawings of Eddie Valiant instead of pictures of Bob Hoskins.
Another scene that came about by accident was when Roger and Eddie Valiant arrive at Maroon Studios to interrogate Mr. Maroon. As Bob Hoskins delivered his lines, he looked straight ahead, instead of down at a three-foot rabbit. The animators decided to have Roger stand on tiptoe against the wall to cover up the gaffe.
Jessica Rabbit's speaking voice was performed by Kathleen Turner, and her singing voice was performed by Amy Irving. Turner was uncredited.
During filming, Charles Fleischer delivered Roger Rabbit's lines off camera in full Roger costume including rabbit ears, yellow gloves and orange cover-alls. During breaks when he was in costume, other staff at the studios would see him and make comments about the poor caliber of the effects in the "rabbit movie".
Exteriors of the Maroon Cartoon studios were shot at Ren-Mar Studios in Hollywood, California.
Judge Doom picks up a record and reads its label: "The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down". Then he says, "quite a loony selection for a bunch of drunken reprobates." The song "The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down" is the familiar theme song for the Looney Tunes cartoons.
Visual effects supervisor Ken Ralston donned the Judge Doom costume for the scene where Eddie Valiant shoots cartoon bullets at Doom in Toontown, as Doom runs away from Valiant.
The song "Smile, Darn Ya, Smile", which the Toons sing when Eddie Valiant first arrives in Toon Town and also at the end of the picture, is featured in an eponymous 1931 Warner Brothers Merrie Melodie Smile, Darn Ya, Smile! (1931).
Some versions include an extra sequence (called the "Pig Head Sequence"): Eddie Valiant had gone into Toontown, ambushed by the weasels and had a pig's head "tooned" onto his. He went home and took a shower during which Jessica walks into his apartment. This scene was cut from the original release, but did appear in theatrical trailers and a television broadcast. A scene cut from the theatrical version where Jessica rolls up her dress to reveal her stockings as she sits cross-legged is included in this sequence.
Eddie enters a Toontown men's room which has the graffiti "For a Good Time, call Allyson Wonderland" in the background. In the original theatrical version, a phone number was visible beside the words -- rumored to be either Michael Eisner's or Jeffrey Katzenberg's. The phone number was removed for the VHS and Laserdisk releases
In the original theatrical run, when Baby Herman storms off the set and puts his hand up a woman's dress, the middle finger of his hand is clearly extended. This was altered for the subsequent VHS and Laserdisk releases.
In the original theatrical run, when Jessica Rabbit and Eddie are thrown out of the cab there are a few frames Jessica is clearly wearing no panties. This was altered for the VHS and Laserdisk releases so that she is wearing white panties. For the DVD release it was altered again, so that now, her dress covers her entirely.
A "prequel" with the working title "Toon Platoon" never got out of the developmental stage.
Although the film's title is a question, no question mark appears in the title, as this is considered bad luck in the industry.
Several voice actors make cameos as the voice of the character(s) they have played before. These are Tony Anselmo (Donald Duck), Wayne Allwine (Mickey Mouse) and Mel Blanc (Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Sylvester and Tweety Bird). But most noticeable is Mae Questel as Betty Boop. Mae did Betty's voice from 1930 until the character was retired in 1939.
A list of the classic cartoon cameos in the film (which is supposed to be set in 1947, though quite a few post-1947 characters appear), grouped by studio: Disney: - Mickey Mouse - Minnie Mouse - Pluto - Donald Duck - Goofy - Pegleg Pete - Horace Horsecollar - Clarabell Cow - the merry dwarfs from The Merry Dwarfs (1929) - the flowers and trees from Flowers and Trees (1932) - the Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf from Three Little Pigs (1933) - Peter Pig from The Wise Little Hen (1934) - Toby Tortoise, Max Hare, and the girl bunnies from The Tortoise and the Hare (1935) - Mickey's orphans from Orphan's Benefit (1934) - Little Red Riding Hood from The Big Bad Wolf (1934) - Jenny Wren from Who Killed Cock Robin? (1935) - Elmer Elephant from Elmer Elephant (1936) - Snow White, all seven dwarfs, and the Old Hag/Witch from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) - Wynken, Blynken and Nod from Wynken, Blynken & Nod (1938) - Ferdinand the bull from Ferdinand the Bull (1938) - Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket from Pinocchio (1940) - the broomsticks, the cupids, the baby Pegasuses, an ostrich, and a hippo from Fantasia (1940) - the Reluctant Dragon and Sir Giles from The Reluctant Dragon (1941) - Dumbo, Mrs. Jumbo, Casey Jr., and the crows (as Jessica's backing band in the Ink and Paint Club) from Dumbo (1941) - Bambi from Bambi (1942) - Chicken Little from Chicken Little (1943) - Jose Carioca from Saludos Amigos (1942) - Monte the pelican from The Pelican and the Snipe (1944) - Peter from the "Peter and the Wolf" segment of Make Mine Music (1946) - Br'er Bear, the groundhogs, and the Tar Baby from Song of the South (1946) - the singing harp from the "Mickey and the Beanstalk" segment of Fun & Fancy Free (1947) - the animals from Johnny Appleseed (1948) - Danny the lamb from So Dear to My Heart (1948) - Mr. Toad and his horse Cyril from The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949) - Tinker-Bell from Peter Pan (1953) - Maleficent's goons from Sleeping Beauty (1959) - the penguins from Mary Poppins (1964) Warner Bros (Looney Tunes): - Bugs Bunny - Daffy Duck - Porky Pig - Tweety - Sylvester - Yosemite Sam - Foghorn Leghorn - Marvin the Martian (first appeared in 1948) - Road Runner & Wile E. Coyote (first appeared in 1949) - Marc Anthony the bulldog from Feed the Kitty (1952) - Sam Sheepdog from Don't Give Up the Sheep (1953) - Speedy Gonzales (first appeared in 1953) Max Fleischer/Paramount: - Koko the Clown (Out of the Inkwell (1919/I) - Betty Boop Walter Lantz: - Woody Woodpecker MGM: - Droopy
During production, one of the biggest challenges faced by the makers of the film was how to get the cartoon characters to realistically interact with real on-set props. This was ultimately accomplished in two different ways. Certain props (such as Baby Herman's cigar or the plates Roger smashes over his head) were moved on-set via motion control machines hooked up to operator who would move the objects in exactly the desired manner. Then, in post, the character was simply drawn 'over' the machine. The other way of doing it was by using puppeteers. This is most clearly seen in the scene in the Ink & Paint club. The glasses held by the octopus bartender were in fact being controlled by puppeteers from above, whilst the trays carried by the penguin waiters were on sticks being controlled from below - both the wires and the sticks were simply removed in post and the cartoons added in.
The song played by Daffy and Donald Duck in the Ink and Paint Club is the Second Hungarian Rhapsody by Franz Liszt, a song featured in numerous cartoons, including the Oscar winning Tom & Jerry short The Cat Concerto (1947) and the Bugs Bunny Merrie Melodie Rhapsody Rabbit (1946).
Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner also appear silhouetted on the elevator door as it goes up.
Felix the Cat's face appears as the masks of tragedy and comedy on the keystone of the entrance to Toontown.
The Disney Afternoon character Bonkers Bobcat was created because Amblin Entertainment, co-owner of all of the characters created for "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" refused to allow Disney to produce a TV series incorporating characters from the film. At the time, Amblin was working with Warner Brothers on the animated series "Tiny Toon Adventures" (1990) and "Animaniacs" (1993).
This movie marked the first time cartoon characters from both Walt Disney and Warner Bros. appeared together on screen.
Since the movie was being made by Disney, Warner Brothers would only allow the use of their biggest toon star, Bugs Bunny, if he got an equal amount of screen time as Disney's biggest star, Mickey Mouse. Because of this, both characters are always together in frame when on the screen.
To create the animation, over 85,000 hand-inked and painted cells were created and composited with the live-action backdrops, live-action characters, and hand-animated tone mattes (shading) and cast shadows using optical film printers. NO computer animation was used in creating the animations. Some scenes involved up to 100 individual film elements. Any live-action that had to be later composited was shot in VistaVision to take advantage of the double-area frame of the horizontal 35mm format. The finished film thus does not suffer from the increased grain that plagued previous live-action/animation combos such as Mary Poppins (1964).
Robert Redford, Harrison Ford, Sylvester Stallone, Jack Nicholson and Ed Harris were considered for the role of Eddie Valiant.
In writing the film, writers 'Jeffrey Price' and Peter S. Seaman were greatly inspired by the film Chinatown (1974). so much so that the car Jessica Rabbit drives out of the Maroon Studios into Toontown is based on that film, and Jack Nicholson was one of many considered for the role of Eddie Valiant.
The photograph that Eddie takes of Marvin Acme and Jessica playing "patty-cake" was created during pre-production, and features an earlier design of Jessica than the one that is used in the final character animation. The one shot that was re-done to incorporate the new Jessica design was the insert shot of the picture after it is first developed.
At the time of its release, this was the most expensive film produced and had the longest on-screen credits for a film.
When the toon train hits the Dip Machine, each window of the train shows a murder or death taking place (if viewed frame-by-frame).
In one of the early versions of the script, Judge Doom was revealed to be the one who killed Bambi's mother.
The opening track on the Sting album "...Nothing Like the Sun", the song "The Lazarus Heart" was originally written as the movie's musical finale, at an early stage of the movie's production when the book's tragic ending, where Roger is killed in the crossfire during the final duel, was still in the script. When the studio ordered its default ending to be used at the film's end, in which Roger is alive at the end of the duel, however, the song was deleted from the script and ended up on Sting's album instead.
Bill the Lizard, from Alice in Wonderland (1951), can be seen carrying a ladder in the scene where the musical toon chairs break out of their box.
The dancing thistles from the "Nutcracker Suite" segment of Fantasia (1940) appear as the wallpaper pattern in the hallway of the Toontown building where Eddie Valiant looks for Jessica.
The gag of the toon pelican falling off his bicycle came about by accident. Originally, the pelican would have ridden straight past the camera, but the effects technicians were unable to keep the bike upright. The filmmakers decided to let the bicycle fall and animate the pelican losing his balance.
An exposure sheet (a chart for keeping track of the drawings to be shot for animation) can be seen in R.K. Maroon's desk. The exposure sheet can also be seen clinging to Eddie Valiant as Roger jumps up screaming after drinking scotch in Maroon's office.
Animation director Richard Williams strove for three things while creating this film's animation: Warner Bros.' Looney Tunes-type characters; Disney-quality animation and Tex Avery-style humor..."but not so brutal."
Roger Rabbit is described (design-wise) as having a "Warners face", a "Disney body", a "Tex Avery attitude", Goofy's overalls, Mickey Mouse's gloves, and Porky Pig's bowtie. Animation director Richard Williams says he based his Roger color model on the American flag (red overalls, white body, blue tie) so that "everyone would subliminally like it".
The animation production was done mostly in England at Richard Williams's studio. Some fill-in work and production on the "Toontown" sequence was done in Los Angeles.
To give Jessica's ample bosom an unusual bounce, her supervising animator Russell Hall reversed the natural up-down movements of her breasts as she walked: they bounce up when a real woman's breasts bounce down and vice versa.
Famous Studio/Paramount characters Popeye, Bluto, Olive Oyl, Little Lulu and Casper the Friendly Ghost, as well as Pat Sullivan's Felix the Cat and MGM's Tom & Jerry, were all scripted to appear, but the rights to the characters could not be obtained in time, although a photo of Felix shaking hands with R.K. Maroon is seen in Maroon's office when he first hires Eddie.
Animation producer Richard Williams fell in love with the character of ("adult") Baby Herman, and insisted on animating pratically every frame of this character himself.
The bottle of chili sauce falling in the opening cartoon had to be reanimated several times as British animators used the UK spelling "chilli".
One of the photos in Roger's wallet is of him and Jessica dining at the Brown Derby. The caricatures on the walls are of some of the filmmakers, including Robert Zemeckis, Richard Williams, and Steven Spielberg, as well as one of Mickey Mouse.
The crowd scenes at the beginning of the Toontown sequence consist mostly of animation from previous Disney films. (Reusing animation was a common practice for Disney up until the early 1990s.)
When Eddie takes Robger Rabbit into the back room at the bar where Dolores works to cut apart the hand-cuffs, the lamp from ceiling is bumped and swinging. Lots of extra work was needed to make the shadows match between the actual room shots and the animation for very little viewer benefit. Today, "Bump the Lamp" is a term used by many Disney employees to refer to going that extra mile on an effect just to make it a little more special even though most viewers or guests will never notice it.
The Ink and Paint Club is the name of a show of Walt Disney's from back in the '50s.
The Judge Doom character was originally going to have an animated pet vulture that sat on his shoulder, but that idea was dropped in the interest of saving time. However, the vulture later resurfaced with Judge Doom when a bendable action figure was produced.
There were over 40 drafts of the script, including drafts that had either Jessica Rabbit or Baby Herman as the villain.
Roddy McDowall was considered for the role of Judge Doom
Christopher Lee turned down the role of Judge Doom.
Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd) never blinks once throughout the entire movie. This was director Robert Zemeckis' idea.
The movie's line "I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way." was voted as the #83 of "The 100 Greatest Movie Lines" by Premiere in 2007.
Among the song selections on the Acme "Select-a-Tune" (the device that Eddie "sings" to in order to make the weasels laugh themselves to death) are "Jolson Medley", "Merry-Go-Round Broke Down", "Broadway Selection" and "Mickey's Melody".
The first test audience was comprised mostly of 18-19-year-olds, who hated it. After nearly the entire audience walked out of the screening, Robert Zemeckis, who had final cut, said he wasn't changing a thing.
Full-size rubber models of Roger Rabbit used as stand-ins so that the human actors could get a feeling for the size and shape of their imaginary costar.
The Ink and Paint Club's policy of only letting toons onto the premises as entertainers and employees, not as customers or audience members, is a reference to the real-life Cotton Club, which, along with many other segregated clubs before the Civil Rights movement, only allowed Black people to enter as performers.
The truck full of "stuff" (bowling balls, pianos, etc.) that Eddie Valiant crashes into when he returns to Toontown is labeled "ACME Overused Gags".
Chuck Jones received a credit as "animation consultant" but disavowed the movie forever after, complaining that there was something wrong with a movie where the live-action hero got more sympathy than the animated-cartoon star did.
Jessica Rabbit's look was designed after Veronica Lake. Jessica even sports the Lake trademark "Peek-a-Boo" hairstyle.
Bob Hoskins said that, for two weeks after seeing the movie, his young son wouldn't talk to him. When finally asked why, his son said he couldn't believe his father would work with cartoon characters such as Bugs Bunny and not let him meet them.
Writers 'Jeffrey Price' and Peter S. Seaman admired the film Chinatown (1974). There was to be two sequels to that film, the first was The Two Jakes (1990), which was later filmed. The second was to be about the corruption in Los Angeles when the streetcar system was removed and freeways were built to replace them. It was to be called "Cloverleaf." Though it is an animated comedy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) pretty much tells the story of this dark period in Los Angeles history.
The piano duet between Donald Duck and Daffy Duck was storyboarded by animation director Richard Williams and Chuck Jones, who was working as a consultant. Williams drew Donald, while Jones drew Daffy.
A brief sequence was prepared to test the techniques used to combine live-action with animation. The footage, which showed Eddie Valiant (played by another actor) walking in an alley with Roger Rabbit, touched on all the challenges expected of the production - shading on the cartoon characters, interaction with the live-action actors and environment, matching with the constantly moving camera, etc. The brief, one-minute film, budgeted at $100,000, convinced the filmmakers that the effects could create the illusion of cartoons and live actors occupying the same reality.
Robert Zemeckis keeps the stop-motion model of the flattened Judge Doom in his office.
Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, who briefly appear in the final "roll call" shot, actually had not been created at the time the movie was set (1947). The characters were given a small cameo anyway at the insistence of Steven Spielberg.
When Valiant confronts Maroon and sprays him with a seltzer bottle a Rodger Rabbit poster can be seen in the background.
The case where Valiant keeps his cartoon gun is inscribed "Thanks for getting me out of the Hoosegow - Yosemite Sam".
When Angelo tells Judge Doom in the bar that he knows where the rabbit is, he points to the empty seat next to him and says "Well, say hello, Harvey". Harvey is a 6-foot invisible rabbit from the stage play with the same name (as well as the movie Harvey (1950)).
The tunnel was also used in the Back to the Future movies (as discussed in the audio commentary of the 2 disc DVD)
The argument between Eddie Valiant and Roger Rabbit in the bar concerning Roger not wanting a drink is a remake of a classic cartoon argument switch. This technique was used in the Bugs Bunny/Daffy Duck/Elmer Fudd cartoons "Rabbit Fire" and "Rabbit Seasoning." Bugs and Daffy would argue back and forth as to which hunting season it is (Rabbit/Duck Season) Bugs would trick Daffy into saying "Duck Season" by saying "Rabbit Season."
Eddie Valiant's initial 30 second stroll through Maroon Cartoon Studios, was so complex that it involved over 180 individual elements, that when assembled with the film pieces, created stacks 8 feet in height.
When the Special Edition DVD was released, Robert Zemeckis stated in an interview for a newspaper that Bill Murray was his and producer Steven Spielberg's original choice for the role of Eddie Valiant but neither could get in contact with him in time. Bill Murray states in interviews that when he read the interview he was in a public place at the time but he still screamed his lungs out, because he would have definitely accepted the role.
The proposed route for Judge Doom's freeway is the same one the 10 Freeway follows through Los Angeles.
Judge Doom's master plan to dismantle the Red Car trolley is based in fact. Private corporations conspired to eliminate public transit in the late 1940s and 1950s in order to generate demand for automobiles and ancillary industries to keep said automobiles running.
Lena Hyena, the hideously ugly Jessica Rabbit impostor that Eddie meets in Toontown, is based on the creation of the same name by artist Basil Wolverton. She was first conceived in 1946 for a contest to depict "the world's ugliest woman".
Joel Silver's cameo as the director of the Baby Herman cartoon was a prank on Disney chief Michael Eisner by Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg. Eisner and Silver hated each other from their days at Paramount Pictures in the early '80s, particularly after the difficulties involved in making 48 Hrs. (1982). Silver shaved off his beard, paid his own expenses, and kept his name out of all initial cast sheets. When Eisner was told, after the movie was complete, who was playing the director - Silver was nearly unrecognizable - he reportedly shrugged and said, "He was pretty good."
Screenwriters' Jeffry Price' and Peter S. Seaman first adapted the Gary K. Wolf novel, 'Who Censored Roger Rabbit?', in 1981, with a view to making it with up-and-coming director Robert Zemeckis. However, when Disney viewed Zemeckis' two feature films (I Wanna Hold Your Hand (1978) and Used Cars (1980)), they felt that Zemeckis wasn't talented enough to pull off the movie. After Zemeckis made Romancing the Stone (1984) and Back to the Future (1985), Disney reconsidered and the movie was green-lit.
At the movie theater where Eddie tells Roger his back story, the short Goofy Gymnastics (1949) is being played, which didn't come out for another two years from the period the film is set in (1947). Crew members claimed to have chosen this particular short, despite its inaccuracy, because it was the zaniest thing they could find in the Disney Vault.
Initially, there were to be seven weasels (Greasy, Sleazy, Wheezy, Smartass, Psycho, Stupid and Slimy) to parody the seven dwarfs.
The three ingredients of the dip which 'kills' toons, (turpentine, benzene and acetate) are all paint thinners which are used to remove animation from cells.
326 animators worked full-time on the film. In total, 82,080 frames of animation were drawn. Including storyboards and concept art, animation director Richard Williams estimates that well over one million drawings were done for the movie.
To convince the Disney and Amblin executives that they could make the movie, the filmmakers shot a short test involving Roger bumping into some crates in an alley and then getting picked up by an actor (this test can be seen in the Behind the Ears: The True Story of Roger Rabbit (2003) (V) documentary on the Vista Series DVD). After viewing the test, several of the Disney executives were convinced they had seen a traditional 'man-in-a-suit' gag with added animation. They couldn't believe it when they were told that it was 100% animation.
Every frame of the movie which featured a mixture of animation and live action had to be printed up as a still photograph. An animator would then draw the particular illustration for that frame on tracing paper set on top of the photo. The outline drawing then had to be hand-colored. Once that was done, the drawing had to be composited back into the original frame using an optical printer.