It’s hard to imagine any version of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” without Bob Hoskins in his iconic performance as Eddie Valiant, the detective tasked with finding out the film’s titular question. Valiant is gruff and has a strong dislike for cartoons, making for a reluctant odd couple partnership with Roger. It’s actually a pretty similar dynamic to the one Murphy shared with Nick Nolte in “48 Hours,” so it wouldn’t be difficult to imagine Murphy sliding into the film. Being the comedic foil to an angry, older detective was right in Murphy’s wheelhouse in the ’80s.
Only, Murphy wasn’t being targeted to lend his voice and comedic talents to the rabbit. No, he was offered the part of the hardboiled detective. We’re guessing the character would have been reshaped a bit to better fit Murphy’s talents, but it’s still interesting — and a little difficult — to imagine him as Eddie. But that wasn’t the reason he turned it down. Instead, it was because he just couldn’t wrap his head around blending animated characters with live-action. As he told Fallon:
“I was gonna be the Bob Hoskins dude. I was like; ‘What? Animation and people?! That sounds like b***s*** to me!’ Now every time I see it, I feel like an idiot.”
These days, mixing animation with live-action is old hat. But at the time, the film was revolutionary for the way director Robert Zemeckis seamlessly made the two mediums work together. With that in mind, it’s hard to hold Murphy’s hesitancy against him. After all, who could have known the film would one day wind up being added to the National Film Registry? As we’ve seen since, live-action and animation don’t always work so well, either. Just ask Brad Pitt.