Actor and comedian Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias was the focus of the previous Current issue’s cover story on his month-long run at the Tobin Center. But we had no choice but to corral him for another interview — this time about his role as Speedy Gonzales in the soon-to-be-released Space Jam: A New Legacy.
When Warner Bros. asked Iglesias to voice the cartoon mouse in the upcoming animated sequel, he had no hesitation.
“It was a ‘yes’ immediately,” Iglesias told the Current during a video chat last week. “I was a big fan of the original Space Jam, and I’ve been a huge fan of Speedy Gonzales forever. The fact that I could be the first Mexican to voice Speedy Gonzales was a huge deal.”
While plenty of Looney Tunes fans cheered Iglesias’ casting, others called on Warner Bros. to retire or remodel the character because they feel it reinforces offensive Latinx stereotypes. It’s the same argument that got Speedy shelved by Cartoon Network back in 1999 before it reversed course and began to air his reruns after public outcry.
When the debate over Speedy heated up earlier this year after Warner Bros. announced that Pepé Le Pew would not be included in the Space Jam sequel due to his history of unwanted sexual advances toward a cat, Iglesias made light of the Speedy situation on Twitter.
“I am the voice of Speedy Gonzales in the new Space Jam,” Iglesias tweeted on March 6. “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.”
During our interview, Iglesias talked about why he loves Speedy, his own skills on the basketball court and why Spurs fans will be happy to hear who he considers his favorite NBA player of all time.
Space Jam: A New Legacy debuts at theaters and on HBO Max July 16.
Did anything surprise you about the comments you received after you tweeted about taking on the role of Speedy?
What surprised me was the level of attention that one tweet got. I was just being silly and having fun with it and trying to make fun of cancel culture. It caught fire! Warner Bros. was very happy because I was supporting the character. They want to see the character do well. They’d like to see what the future holds for [Speedy].
What did you think about Speedy as a kid watching him on TV?
There was nothing negative about him. He was fast and he was Mexican. What’s the problem with that? That’s not a crime. That’s job security. He was awesome. He was always outsmarting the cat and he never got caught. He’s still undefeated.
What kind of direction did you get when creating his voice? Did you take into consideration how he sounded in past cartoons?
I was given the option of using my regular speaking voice. I appreciated that, but I didn’t want people to think of me when they saw Speedy Gonzales. If they’re thinking of me when they’re watching him, then I’m doing a bad job. I wanted to make sure that I got as close to the [original] voice as possible. Then they asked, “Well, do you think you can do his voice?” I was like, “Dude, that’s half my family! I got this!”
I mean, when I saw the movie, Speedy sounds like the Speedy I remember as a kid, so I think you nailed it.
Yeah, I went from [my regular voice] to [As Speedy Gonzales], “Hola, amigos! My name is Speedy Gonzales — the fastest mouse in all Mexico! Arriba! Epa! Ándale!” Dude, I can do that in my sleep. I told them, “Don’t think that just because I’m Mexican that I can only do Speedy. I can do all the Warner Bros. characters.” You want Marvin the Martian? [As Marvin the Martian] “Oh, my! My modulator!” You want Yosemite Sam? [As Yosemite Sam] “Hey there, rabbit!” You want Bugs Bunny? [As Bugs Bunny] “What’s up, doc?” I said, “You can fire the whole cast right now! I will do the whole movie for half!”
Not only is Speedy fast, he’s a pretty good basketball player. How are your own basketball skills?
I’m lucky if I can play horse. (Laughs.) I mean, I can play NBA2K, but my fingers aren’t even that fast. But one-on-one, I’m done. I’m just glad my character is very good at basketball.
Do you follow an NBA team?
I’m an LA guy, so it’s always been about the Lakers. But I’ve also been a Spurs fan for many years. My favorite player of all time is Tim Duncan. He spoiled so many Lakers games for me. I just respected him for that. There were so many great games between the Lakers and the Spurs. But Tim Duncan, hands down, my favorite player of all time.
Do you have a prediction for the Suns-Bucks NBA Finals?
I think the Suns are going to take it in five.
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