"Jane the Virgin" actor Greice Santo says a scene featuring her and the Looney Tunes character Pepé Le Pew has been removed from the upcoming "Space Jam" sequel.
The cultural legacy of Pepé Le Pew, a lecherous skunk who speaks in a French accent, has come under scrutiny in recent days. In a column published last week, The New York Times opinion writer Charles M. Blow said the character "normalized rape culture."
"Space Jam: A New Legacy," starring LeBron James and Don Cheadle, is a follow-up to the 1996 sports comedy that paired NBA great Michael Jordan with Bugs Bunny and other digitally animated Looney Tunes characters.
The entertainment news outlet Deadline reported that Pepé Le Pew was set to appear alongside Santo in a black-and-white scene parodying the classic drama "Casablanca."
In the scene, Pepe reportedly starts hitting on Santo's character and begins kissing her arm. But she pulls back, slams him into a chair, pours a drink on him and slaps him, which sends him spinning in a barstool.
The live-action part of the scene was filmed by the project's first director, Terence Nance, according to a spokesperson for Warner Bros. Pictures, the studio distributing the film.
The second director, Malcolm D. Lee, pulled the scene from his first cut and eliminated Pepé Le Pew from the movie altogether some time ago, the spokesperson said — suggesting the move was not directly related to The New York Times column.
In a statement, Santo's representatives said she was dismayed the scene was purportedly excised from the movie.
"Even though Pepe is a cartoon character, if anyone was going to slap a sexual harasser like him, Greice wished it would be her," Santo's manager said.
"Now the scene is cut and she doesn't have the power to influence the world through the younger generations who will be watching 'Space Jam 2,' to let young girls and boys know that Pepe's behavior is unacceptable," the manager added.
Santo has publicly advocated for women to stand up to sexual predators and sexual misconduct. Three years ago, she recorded the song "Você Você," a Spanish-language track about a woman who is relentlessly harassed by a man.
“I’ve been inspired by the courage of all the women in the #MeToo movement to finally take a stand against this and say: ‘No more’,” Santo was quoted as saying at the time of the song's debut.