Unscene Is Believing: Who Framed Roger Rabbit

roger rabbit Pig Head office

As an adjunct to our regular “Scene Is Believing” slot, I’d like to start examining scenes that didn’t make the final cut, whether they be at script stage, or completed shots. To begin, let’s look at Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and what became known as “The pig head sequence”.

According to SFX supervisor Ken Ralston, the film had numerous script rewrites. One of the earliest scenes to be completed by animators and then discarded was the aforementioned sequence. Animators Andreas Dejas and David Spafford told Starlog (November 1989):

“The pig head sequence was one of the first sequences that we completed, but when (Robert) Zemeckis (the director) started toning up and sharpening the film in the final edit, certain sections around that sequence were cut, which meant that the scene wasn’t going to make any sense. They tried to keep it.”

When human P.I Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) learns about studio head Marvin Acme’s will, he sneaks into Jessica Rabbit’s dressing room to find it. He’s rumbled by Bongo the gorilla bouncer, Jessica, and villain Judge Doom. Doom has his weasels take Eddie to Toontown, where he gets “Toon-a-rooned” – they paint a large Porky-like pig’s head on him as punishment. Eddie runs home and has a turpentine shower to wash it off. The following scene shows him emerge from the bathroom to find Jessica in his apartment. To justify him emerging from the bathroom after the previous scene was cut, a toilet flush was added to the mix.

roger rabbit Before and after pig head

The challenge for mechanical FX Supervisor George Gibbs was how to dissolve the pig head practically on set. “I immediately thought of this material, which is like polystyrene; it soaks up water and florists use it to arrange flowers. Right! I’ll sculpt a pig’s head out of this and when Valiant stands in the shower, the stuff will dissolve away.” Because it was made to soak up water, it got heavier and heavier before it eventually broke up.

“What we ended up doing  was to make a mold of the pig’s head in silicon rubber. The, we got ordinary kleenex tissues and lined the mold with a mixture of water, sugar and kleenex tissues. We got a cotton candy machine and made enough spun sugar to pack the inside of the tissue paper with cotton candy. This time, Bob Hoskins wore the pig’s head. He goes into the shower and pulls the curtain across. He reaches out for a bottle marked turpentine, which was actually just water. We had prepared the paper and cotton candy head by making lots of very fine cuts with a scalpel so that when Hoskins started pouring the bottle’s contents on his head, the cotton candy and tissue would immediately dissolve. It all happened very quickly. And then when he pulls the shower curtain open, he has pink stuff all over him. Finally, we have a shot of the pink cotton candy going down the drain.”

A lot of work and head scratching for a scene that must have been hard to let go. For further insight into other scrapped sequences in the film, read the article in the October 1989 issue of Starlog.

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