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One aspect of Space Jam: A New Legacy that’s sure to excite moviegoers is the fact that the film allows them to once again see the Looney Tunes on the big screen. The lovable characters haven’t headlined a film since 2003’s Looney Tunes: Back in Action. So of course, this film brings back a number of fan-favorite characters, including the small but mighty Speedy Gonzales, voiced by the one and only Gabriel Iglesias. The character has, however, drawn mixed responses over the years, with some believing he perpetuates stereotypes. But this actually wasn’t something that worried Iglesias as he prepared to step into the shoes (or paws?) of the incredibly quick toon.
Speedy Gonzales -- dubbed the “The Fastest Mouse in all Mexico” -- was first introduced in the Merrie Melodies cartoons back in 1955. The character was established as a clever mouse who was easily able to outwit his opponents and eventually became a Looney Tunes staple. But the characters exaggerated Mexican accent, large sombrero and other attributes are what led to the aforementioned fears regarding stereotypes.
When the character was confirmed to be a part of Space Jam: A New Legacy, some seemed to be taken aback by the decision. Gabriel Iglesias, on the other hand, took to social media to shoot down any hate towards the character or his inclusion in the film. When I recently spoke with Iglesias, he was still very upbeat about landing the role. He also spoke on the conversations he had with the producers regarding his portrayal:
There was a whole conversation about did I think that the character was too stereotypical, you know, the voice. And I said, ‘ You don’t know my family. Nah, we’re good’ [laughs] And they said, ‘You don’t think you’d want to lend your regular speaking voice to the role?’ And I said, ‘I appreciate that, but I don’t want people to think of me when they see the film. I need people to think of Speedy Gonzales, and I need for that character to stay as close as possible to the original. And so the challenge was can I nail the voice, and come on?
Those who have seen the movie undoubtedly know that Gabriel Iglesias went all in when it came to playing Speedy Gonzales. His interpretation is honestly spot-on, so it shouldn’t be surprising to know that it wasn’t hard for him to land the role:
I think it’s funny because I didn’t even audition for the part. … They said, ‘Would you like to be in it?’ And I’m like, ‘Yes!’ ‘You want to be Speedy?’ ‘Absolutely.’ And so I’m the first Mexican to actually voice the character, so when they said action, I was ready, man.
Of course, during our interview, the actor also told me that he made it clear to the producers that Speedy isn’t the only character he can voice. As you can see in the video clip above, the actor also does pitch-perfect impersonations of other Looney Tunes like Bugs Bunny, Marvin the Martian and Yosemite Sam.
Speedy Gonzales isn’t the only Space Jam character that’s been in the news, as Lola Bunny (voiced by Zendaya) also sparked some conversations, albeit for very different reasons. Not only that, but one Looney Tunes veteran was even deleted from the film entirely. While viewers will likely continue to have debates about certain characters, it would appear that producers and talent are at the very least putting thought into how they can be better utilized in contemporary productions.
Space Jam: A New Legacy is now playing in theaters and streaming on HBO Max, which you can sign up for using this link.