Skip to main content

How Space Jam: A New Legacy Recreated Classic Warner Bros. Characters Like Penguin And The Mask

Al-G-Rhythm stands with Warner Bros. characters in Space Jam: A New Legacy
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

With Space Jam: A New Legacy, director Malcolm D. Lee and producer/star LeBron James were able to reintroduce the Looney Tunes to a new generation of viewers. And at the same time, the creatives were also able to inject the film with a plethora of iconic Warner Bros. characters. The lengthy list of returning faces includes fan-favorites like Danny DeVito's Penguin, Jim Carrey’s The Mask and even Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman. Pulling off such a task wasn’t simple, as you’d probably imagine. Now, we have a better idea of how the film’s crew was able to revive the lovable film staples. 

The bulk of the film’s Warner Bros. cameos come into play during the decisive basketball game between LeBron James and Bugs Bunny’s Tune Squad and Al-G-Rhythm’s Goon Squad. Notable faces like IT’s Pennywise and the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz. are among those who fill the stands to watch the event. The “Second Quarter: Teamwork” featurette found on the home media release of Space Jam: A New Legacy sheds light on the process of bringing the characters back to life. Makeup department head Howard Berger was particularly excited about being able to take a crack at some of WB’s legendary characters: 

We came up with all this super cool stuff that we hadn't seen before, it was really, really difficult to do but that made it more fun and that much cooler. [We] got to revisit a lot of these iconic characters [and] bring them into the Space Jam World. And being on set and seeing, you know, hundreds of different characters from all the Warner Brothers library was really exciting and something that probably will never happen ever again. It gave me the opportunity to bring on a whole bunch of great prosthetic makeup artists.

That team was incredibly invaluable for such an ambitious production. Howard Berger went on to reveal just how many extras he and his collaborators had to apply makeup and prosthetics to, and the process of getting it done sounds grueling:  

Currently, we've got 30 makeup artists and 30 hairstylist employed, so 60 people to help create all this. We do it in waves because there's so many people, there’s almost 300 people. Orchestrating hundreds of makeups, takes us four hours to get everybody ready. Then we come and shoot for 12 hours. And then it takes about two hours to clean everybody up, and then we go home and sleep. And then we come on back for first and last out. That's probably the hardest part, but that's also a really fun part because you're doing it all as a team.

Applying makeup to just one actor can be a lengthy process, so the idea of doing so for numerous extras sounds like an almost impossible task. But Howard Berger and his colleagues seemed to have gotten the job done effectively and had fun while doing so. Thanks to their efforts, audiences were treated to a nice bit of nostalgia as they watched the movie. They got to enjoy the classic antics of the Looney Tunes and take a stroll down memory lane with some movie night staples. 

Space Jam: A New Legacy is now available to own on Digital HD, DVD, Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. 

Erik Swann

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.