Roger Rabbit is a deuteragonist in Who Framed Roger Rabbit and the main character in the short films and comics spun off from it. Voiced by Charles Fleischer, he is the titular anthropomorphic rabbit of the film, a frantic over-anxious type who often stutters (even while he's screaming).
DevelopmentBefore Richard Williams came aboard on the project, early animation tests for Roger gave him a simple and stylized look of a skinny white bunny with a purple nose. In these test animations, Roger was voiced by Paul Reubens.
When the film went into full production, Roger was re-designed in a fashion to take elements from all the major cartoon studios of the period, the philosophy behind the new characters in general being a combination of Disney's elaborate animation style, similar characterization to Warner Bros. characters and capable of performing Tex Avery-inspired gags.
Roger is hyperactive, friendly, talkative, funny, a bit childlike, and not very bright at times. Roger loves to make others laugh and is good friends with the other Toons, especially Baby Herman (his Maroon Cartoons co-star) and Benny the Cab. Roger is also cowardly and greatly fears Judge Doom, the Dip, and the Toon Patrol.
Despite his traditionally cartoonish behavior, Roger is aware of what people think of cartoons, facts he's voiced to Eddie, in that making people laugh is often what makes toons' lives worthwhile, but also notes that there are times when making people laugh is the only weapon toons have. He believes that if someone doesn't have a good sense of humor they're better off dead.
In the film, the voice of Roger is performed by Charles Fleischer(who also voices Benny the Cab, Greasy and Psycho), who was known for electing to wear an actual rabbit costume on the set to get into the role. One of his famous traits is his voice, "P-p-p-p-p-please!". He is a white, clownish rabbit with a gap between his front teeth, a voice that resonates of Huntz Hall in The Bowery Boys, a blue Porky Pig-like bowtie with yellow polka dots, a Droopy-like hair, a Bugs Bunny-like head with blue eyes, a pink nose and round-tipped ears, red Oswald-like pants with a green patch behind and Mickey Mouse-like gloves (yellow ones).
He loves his wife, Jessica, and always makes her laugh.
Roger doesn't take well to alcoholic beverages; it's shown twice in the film that when he has consumed one, he changes color rapidly, at least one of his eyes swells, his head spins and he mumbles incoherently at a fast pace, before stretching up into the air and whistling like a steam train at a loud enough tone to shatter glass, all the while spinning around. Afterwards, his mood swings violently.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
In the film version, he is re-envisioned as a 1940's character in animated cartoons and a resident of the fictional Los Angeles enclave Toontown. He is framed for the murder of ACME C.E.O. Marvin Acme and seeks out Eddie Valiant to help clear his name.
Mickey's 60th Birthday
Roger notably played a significant role in the 1988 NBC (who ironically owned Oswald at that time) special Mickey's 60th Birthday. At the beginning of the special, during the taping of Mickey's birthday show, he is told to bring Mickey's cake to him, but in the process, he mistakes a stick of dynamite for a candle and puts it on the cake. Upon noticing his mistake, he attempts to snuff out the dynamite, but fails. Due to the resulting explosion, Mickey uses Yen Sid's magic to fix the place up and then shows off some more magic to his audience, only to disappear and have the sorcerer cast his spell on him.
At the end of the special, after the curse is lifted, Roger finds Mickey right outside Disneyland and is hailed as a hero for finding him.
Roger Rabbit was featured in a series of cartoon shorts following the popularity of the movie. These shorts were presented in front of various Touchstone/Disney features in an attempt to revive short subject animation as a part of the moviegoing experience. These shorts include Tummy Trouble, released in front of the blockbuster Honey, I Shrunk The Kids (this was also included on the original video release of the film); Rollercoaster Rabbit, shown in front of the hit Dick Tracy; and Trail Mix-Up, shown before the Amblin-produced A Far-Off Place.
Roger Rabbit's Toontown
Roger also starred in a comic book series from April 1990 to September 1991 and a spin-off series called "Roger Rabbit's Toontown," published from June to October 1991, which featured Roger in the first story and supporting characters like Jessica Rabbit (Roger's voluptuous humanoid wife), Baby Herman (his co-star in Maroon Cartoons), Benny the Cab (Roger's taxicab friend), and The Weasels (Roger's enemies).
Disney ParksRoger is a popular character at Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland, both of which contain identical versions of the Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin attraction. The Disneyland version opened in 1994, while the Tokyo Disneyland version opened in 1996. As part of the ride's queue area, passengers walk through the dark alleys of Toon Town and see the shadows of Jessica and the Weasels walk by windows and hear their plot to kidnap her. On this entirely dark-light ride, you board Lenny the Cab (Benny’s twin cousin) and race through streets, back alleys and buildings.
Roger made frequent appearances in the parks as a walk-around character in the years that followed the release of the film. He appeared prominently in the Disney Sing-Along Songs video Disneyland Fun, in which he is first shown helping Mickey and friends get Disneyland ready for its guests that day and singing "Whistle While You Work" along with them. Later in the video, he and Chip 'n' Dale take a group of kids on some of the park's thrill rides.
To date, Roger still appears at Tokyo Disneyland as a walk-around meetable character. He also reappeared at Disneyland in 2012 for the 20th anniversary performances of Fantasmic! and again for the 2013 Easter Bunny Hop parade. However, he's hardly heard of at Walt Disney World, Disneyland Resort Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland.
Roger could be seen on board the Mark Twain Riverboat at the end of the Disneyland version of the show in the early years of its run. He returned for a few special performances in May 2012.
Disney on Ice
Roger made guest-star appearances in two of the Disney on Ice shows in the early 1990s. His first appearance in these was in the 10th Anniversary show in 1991. After Gyro Gearloose's musical time machine explodes and separates Mickey and friends, Scrooge McDuck and Chip 'n' Dale find Roger as a mummy emerging from a tomb in ancient Egypt. After doing an Egyptian dance, Roger joins Scrooge and the chipmunks on their quest to reunite the rest of the gang, finding Mickey and Minnie in the jungle from The Jungle Book and Donald and Daisy on a tropical island from The Little Mermaid. When the group returns to Duckburg, Roger notices Scrooge is still upset about having not found Huey, Dewey and Louie (who'd disappeared at the beginning of the show) and, feeling sorry for him, brings him to Eddie's office. Roger and Eddie try to cheer Scrooge up by telling him jokes, but it doesn't quite work until Jessica joins in the act.
Roger appeared again in the next Disney on Ice show, Double Feature... Live!, in which he hosts the second act of the show with his "Super-Duper-Never-a-Blooper" Video Variety machine. With it, he presents a pair of vignettes, one starring Chip 'n' Dale as the Lone Chipmunks, and another in which Darkwing Duck rescues a dancer named Dazzles (played by Daisy Duck).
LegacyRoger made his footprints and handprints with his signature phrase "P-p-p-p-please" in front of the Chinese theatre at Disney's Hollywood Studios on its opening day along with Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Minnie Mouse, and Goofy.
Roger is also the inspiration for a popular dance move in the early 1990s, called "the Roger Rabbit" due to the floppy movements of the character.
Disney and Amblin Entertainment attempted to resurrect Roger for a sequel, one of the storylines being a prequel set in World War II that would also feature Roger's search for his parents, with his father being revealed to be Bugs Bunny. However, a preliminary budget was deemed too large and the film never got past the script stage. Several 3D CGI tests and a 3D CGI rendering of Roger were completed, however, despite the fact that no actual footage was actually shot or completed. However, Frank Marshall, the producer of the first film, told MTV in late 2007 that he would be open to any plans to bring the Roger sequel back in the works.
- The character first appeared in the book, Who Censored Roger Rabbit? by Gary K. Wolf, which was adapted into the 1988 Academy-Award winning film, Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Mixing both live action and animation to create a believable "tooniverse," Disney studios set up an animation studio in Camden Town, London, whilst the live action was shot at Elstree film studios. Both the animation and live-action were then composited by ILM fx studios in LA. In the book, Roger is a sidekick in a popular comic strip called "Baby Herman." His murder is being investigated by a detective named "Eddie Valiant" and a slowly evaporating stunt doppelganger of himself that he created hours before being shot.
- In the film, Roger briefly mentions at one point that Thumper is his uncle.
- Roger was listed #35 at Empire Magazine's 50 Best Animated Characters. Stating his stroke of genius as Roger's heartbroken reaction to the news that his wife, Jessica, is cheating on him.
- Charles Fleischer performed Roger's lines on set, off camera, while wearing a full costume including rabbit ears, overalls and gloves.
- Roger Rabbit is occasionally voiced be Jess Harnell, who is famous for voicing Wakko Warner (from Animaniacs), Crash Bandicoot (from the video game series of the same name) and the current voice of Br'er Rabbit.
- An early version of Roger appears briefly as a spectator in Sport Goofy in Soccermania.