‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’ Star Gabriel Iglesias Speaks out on Speedy Gonzales Controversy (Exclusive)
Space Jam: A New Legacy is about to premiere in theaters and on HBO Max July 16, but while fans can’t wait to see LeBron James lead a new adventure with the Looney Tunes following Michael Jordan’s 1996 Space Jam release, there have been a few raised eyebrows this time. Comedian and actor Gabriel Iglesias took on the role of Speedy Gonzales in this chapter, but fans aren’t so quick to forget the headlines the longtime cartoon character made ahead of 2020’s woke conversations involving police brutality and race equality. During an exclusive interview with PopCulture.com, Iglesias explained why he was excited to take on the iconic role ahead of the film’s release despite what some might think of the character.
“I was a big fan of the original film. I grew up watching Michael Jordan and the Looney Tunes characters, so when they asked me to do this one, I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m all about it!'” Iglesias revealed before noting he didn’t have to audition for the role. Instead, he was selected and felt honored to have been asked. The moment was such an exciting and humbling one that he took to Twitter as soon as he could announce the news with fans this past March.
I am the voice of Speedy Gonzales in the new Space Jam. Does this mean they are gonna try to cancel Fluffy too? U can’t catch me cancel culture. I’m the fastest mouse in all of Mexico 💨 pic.twitter.com/Ov4wjO00kM
— G a b r i e l – I g l e s i a s (@fluffyguy) March 7, 2021
Speedy Gonzales is a cartoon character many grew up watching, but in the last few years, as society becomes more cognizant of racist behavior and attitudes, there are some who felt the character was more racist than anything. According to an LA Times article, ABC even banned the character from their airwaves in the 1980s “because the title character presents a stereotypical image that is not offset by any other Latino television characters.” Gonzales’ plot was formed around being a thief and a drunk, all while being painted as lazy. On top of that, the man who voiced the little mouse was not of Latino descent.
Iglesias has now become the first “real Mexican” to voice Speedy Gonzales, something the 44-year-old tells PopCulture he is very excited about. “I’m the first-ever actual, real Mexican to play Speedy Gonzales, he’s always been played by somebody other than,” he explained. “The original voice was done by a great voice actor named Mel Blanc who did all the Looney Tunes cartoons many years ago, so I’m happy to be a part of it and I did my best to get as close to Speedy as possible.” Iglesias also gushed over Warner Bros. Studios when explaining how everyone behind the scenes ensured the actor’s comfort levels when playing the character, even asking him if Gonzales sounded too “stereotypical.”
“The questions started coming about cultural sensitivity, making sure everything was right,” he said when he first accepted the role. “We went back and forth, ‘What do you think of the voice? Is it okay? Is it too stereotypical? What do you want to do?’ I appreciated the fact that there were so many questions. Warner Bros. went above and beyond to make sure, at least with me, that I was very comfortable with the role and that it was behind represented the right way.”
Space Jam: A New Legacy premieres July 16 in theaters and on HBO Max. For more on the movie and all your favorite stars, keep it locked right here for the latest.