If rumor and hearsay are to be believed, a solo Looney Tunes animated film starring the beloved (and controversial) character Speedy Gonzales has been kicked around at Warner Bros. Pictures since 2010, when it was initially being developed as a live-action/CG-hybrid film, with George Lopez attached to voice the character at one point. Rumblings of the film’s existence came up again several months ago, with the news that it was now being drafted as a fully-animated feature with a ‘contemporary’ take on the character.
Now, we have a little more information on what the film will be about (and who will voice the new Speedy).
In an exclusive with Deadline, Warner Bros has revealed that they are moving forward with development on an animated Speedy Gonzales movie, now titled Speedy.
Eugenio Derbez, a beloved filmmaker and actor in Mexico, will voice the titular character. “In Mexico we grew up watching Speedy Gonzales,” Derbez told Deadline. “He was like a superhero to us, or maybe more like a revolutionario like Simon Bolivar or Pancho Villa. He watched out for the little people but with a lot of bravado and a weakness for the ladies. I’m really excited to be bringing this character to the big screen. And besides being Mexican— my full name is Eugenio Derbez Gonzalez and I have big ears. The casting couldn’t be better.”
Derbez will also have a much deeper involvement in the project beyond having a staring role. He and Ben Odell will produce the film under their 3pas Studios banner alongside Dylan Sellers, who will produce under his Rivers Edge Films banner. This will be Derbez’s US debut in an animated feature, following previous voice roles in animation that included voicing Donkey in the Spanish-language version of Shrek. Speaking of which, there are currently plans for the film to have English and Spanish-speaking versions.
The screenplay for the film – penned by Hank Nelken (Saving Silverman) – will double as both a heist film and a modern-day origin story for Speedy. Also speaking to Deadline, Dylan Sellers described their take on the iconic Looney Tunes character, framing it in the context of the current political climate: “We see this as an origin story of the great master, like a Robin Hood character, who ultimately ends up taking from the rich and giving to the poor.” Sellers continued, “In a time when Donald Trump is gaining momentum, the world needs Speedy more than ever.”
Speedy Gonzales was created by Friz Freleng and Hawley Pratt (following a prototype version of the character created by Robert McKimson). Speedy first appeared in his own self-titled short film in 1955 and has since gone on to appear in 46 Looney Tunes shorts and a number of Looney Tunes-related media (games, movies, TV shows, etc). Legendary voice actor Mel Blanc voiced the character in his original run of short films and the character has since been voiced by four other actors (Fred Armisen is his current voice actor for TV and direct-to-DVD features). Derbez will be the first Mexican actor to portray the character, following Armisen who is part Venezuelan.
Famously (or infamously), the character has drawn fire for his characterization, generally seen as an approximation of various Mexican stereotypes. But weirdly enough, the character has become a popular icon in much of Latin America, much likely to the surprise of the Cartoon Network’s execs, who put the original short films back on the air following a string of passionate fan campaigns.
The interesting choices that are being made here – the casting of a Mexican actor, the framing of the story within current political contexts, the plans for a Spanish-speaking cut of the film – certainly point to a new version of Speedy that sounds intriguing on paper. The hope, as stated in the previous report, was that this version of Speedy could shed his stereotypical trappings and be more of a lead character in his own right. If all goes well, that portrayal of Speedy could very well resonate in a time where certain political ideologies haven’t been too kind to Latin-American communities.
Hey, if Zootopia can do it….
What do you think? Are you looking forward to this version of Speedy Gonzales?
Edited by: Kajsa Rain Forden