Years before Robert Zemeckis directed the revolutionary live-action/animated hybrid Who Framed Roger Rabbit? in 1988, an earlier version was mounted at Walt Disney Studios between 1981 and 1983, which had Darrell Van Citters set to direct. Today, an eight-minute video has been unearthed that shows John Culhane taking viewers behind-the-scenes of this unmade version, which featured Paul Reubens as the voice of Roger Rabbit and Russi Taylor as the voice of Jessica Rabbit.
The video also shows a number of concept art images, that show how vastly different the earlier versions of these characters were, and we have a few split-screen photos with the 1981-1983 artwork next to the finished characters from the 1988 film. Take a look at the video and photos, then read on for more information, where you'll see that one of the animators is Frozen and Surf's Up director Chris Buck.
Before Richard Williams directed the animation for Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, there was an earlier attempt at Disney, from 1981 to 1983, to adapt Gary K. Wolf's book "Who Censored Roger Rabbit."
John Culhane takes us behind the scenes of the unmade Darrell Van Citters version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, 1983. With animator Mike Giamo and producer Marcus Sturdivant.
Disney 1981-1983. Animators: Mike Giamo, Surf's Up, Mike Gabriel. Paul Reubens, known as Pee Wee Herman, plays Roger Rabbit. Peter Renaday and Mike Gabriel as Eddie Valiant. Russi Taylor as Jessica. Unknown as Captain Cleaver. Screenwriters Peter S. Seaman and Jeffrey Price. Producer Marcus Sturdivant.
While Roger was a villain in the book, trying to solve his own murder, this Roger is a loveable goofball in white fur and red overalls - a prototype for the final film. Baby Herman is glimpsed only briefly, and Jessica Rabbit appears to be the villain of the piece. Still, this version clearly laid some groundwork for the Zemeckis/Williams production a few years later.
The prototype Roger Rabbit appears cheering in the stands in the featurette "Sport Goofy in Soccermania."