In honor of the 25th anniversary Blu-ray release of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (which is in the running for the best film ever directed by Robert Zemeckis) I was given the extreme pleasure of interviewing the voice of Roger Rabbit himself, Charles Fleischer. In the intervening 25 years, Fleischer has become something of a renaisaince man. In addition to his acting, he's an accomplished stand-up comic, and has even made scientific discoveries in the field of gamma rays, leading me to believe he might actually be The Hulk.
He was more than happy to talk about this classic film from his past, however.
Bryan Young: Roger Rabbit has a staying power not frequent with movies. It gets played with noir films like the Maltese Falcon. Why do you think it has had the cultural staying power it does.
Charles Fleischer: There are a few reasons. Number one, Robert Zemeckis and in addition to that, Richard Williams who did the aspect of designing Roger and the animation. Both of them are geniuses. When you factor that into the script and the fact it took place in the past, introducing cartoon characters, so it created a sensibility whereby he already existed, it made it easier to accept as something that's always been as opposed to trying to present a new cartoon character in the world of 2013.
BY: You insisted on being in a Roger Rabbit suit for the duration of filming, and I'm wondering what your thinking was behind that.
Charles Fleischer: Unlike other voice over situations which are done in a recording studio, Roger Rabbit was live action and animation combined, and there was a time factor, so my voice was recorded live on the set. So I'm on the set rehearsing and recording my voice as a performance with the other actors, and they're all wearing costumes, and it made sense to me. When you do a movie, you go to the location and get into your costume. It's part of your metamorphosis into your character, and it just made sense to do it. At first, Bob Hoskins thought I was just a crazy American, but later he did thank me for doing that because it helped him visualize a character who wasn't really there.
Bryan Young: Aside from the gorgeous HD transfer, what should we be excited for on this new Blu-ray release?
Charles Fleischer: What you will find on the Blu-ray that has not been on other releases are the inclusion of the Roger Rabbit shorts, "Tummy Trouble" and "Rollercoaster Rabbit", those have not been together in one package. That really makes this an extraordinary situation that not only can you get the movie on blu ray and all the features that have previously been there, but you get the inclusion of the three separate shorts which were originally released with other films the way they used to in the other days where you'd have a cartoon short before the feature. In fact, one of them was before Dick Tracy, and I appeared in Dick Tracy, so I had a double billing in that movie.
And then talk quickly turned to the rumoured Roger Rabbit sequel starring Roger and Mickey Mouse.
Bryan Young: Gary K. Wolf, who wrote the book the movie is based on, posted on his web site recently that there was going to be some more Roger Rabbit. Is there anything you can say about that?
Charles Fleischer: Because I am not an executive at Disney Studios, I would say it's premature to make any comments, however, if there is to be a sequel, I would more than likely consider that Rob Zemeckis would be the man at the helm, and all those other things are premature or authentic and doubtful in my opinion. I do still have hope that Bob Zemeckis will again take the helm and bring Roger back. It's been 25 years, and that's a good amount of time to wait.
It's hard to imagine a sequel happening without Robert Zemeckis, and without him, I'm not sure I'd want to see a sequel to this classic film at all. But anything can materialize, and Disney isn't in the habit of leaving cash on the floor anymore.
The 25th Anniversary Blu-ray of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is available now.