as: Eddie Valiant
No movie blew my mind as a kid like Who Framed Roger Rabbit did. The movie’s seamless blend of live action and cell animation achieves a level of awesomeness that has still not been matched. “What about Gollum in the Lord of the Rings movies?” you ask. “Was that not a brilliant blending of the real and animated?” It undeniably was, but that’s kind of the problem—Gollum (and other the fancy high-falutin’ CGI characters that have graced the silver screen since) looks too good, too real for it to really register as animation. In Roger Rabbit, the cartoon characters are supposed to look like cartoon characters interacting with real, live humans in a real, live, Bizzaro version of old-timey Hollywood.
A big part of what makes those interactions work is that the live-action cast totally sells it. As the film’s lead (human) character, Bob Hoskins’ Eddie Valiant spends the lion’s share of his screen time with one ink and paint creation or another. And, though the late, great Hoskins turns in a predictably excellent performance, there is another actor who we think could’ve given the part a little something extra. That actor is, of course, Tom Wopat.
In the film, Eddie Valiant is shown to be a washed up has-been, a private detective whose high profile career working on cases around Hollywood and Toon Town (roughly the equivalent of a Little Italy, but with cartoon characters) petered out after his brother Teddy was killed by a rogue ‘toon. Once a strapping, barrel-chested hero, he’s now balding, borderline alcoholic, and more than a little doughy in the midsection. This, of course, was right in Bob Hoskins’ wheelhouse, since that’s what he looked like in real life.
With Tom Wopat in the role, however, we’d have to alter Eddie’s character a little bit. He’d still be a down on his luck sad-sack, and still something of a drunk. But, instead of letting himself go all soft, he’s dedicated himself to staying fit. This would not only fit Wopat’s physique better (especially back in 1988 when the movie was made—he was but 37 then), but would allow for scenes in a 1940s-style gym, where boxing is the main draw.
Really, we’re just looking for an excuse for old-timey gym trunks, the kind with a build-in belt and that come up well past a fella’s belly button. Those are always funny.
Also, it would allow for a scene recreating some of the finest slapstick comedy in the history of the Looney Tunes: the kangaroo boxing short starring Sylvester the cat (titled “Pop ‘im Pop”). Instead of Sylvester, it would, of course, be Eddie Wopat in the ring with a cartoon kangaroo. If the thought of a live-action actor getting slapped around by an animated kangaroo doesn’t make you at least crack a smile, then I’m afraid there’s no hope for you, sir or madam.