While Zendaya understands a "sense of protection" over her Space Jam: A New Legacy character Lola's original look, she says, "I didn't know it was going to be as much of a focus as it was"

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Zendaya - Space Jam: A New Legacy - Lola Bunny
Zendaya; Lola Bunny in Space Jam: A New Legacy
| Credit: Randy Shropshire/Getty; Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

Zendaya couldn't be more thankful to have gotten to voice the "iconic" Lola Bunny in Space Jam: A New Legacy — but she admits she was a bit thrown by the controversy over the character's updated look.

Speaking with Entertainment Weekly ahead of the film's premiere, the 24-year-old actress said she "didn't know" any backlash would come out of the difference in Lola's appearance compared to her version in the original film.

"I definitely know we love her, but I didn't know it was going to be as much of a focus as it was," Zendaya said with a laugh.

In 1996's Space Jam, Lola is shown wearing a crop top and short shorts throughout the film, while the 2021 version sees her don a basketball uniform more akin to that of her male counterparts.

Added Zendaya of the controversy in her EW interview, "I understand, because she's a lovable character. She's very important, so I get it."

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Space Jam: A New Legacy
Lola Bunny and LeBron James in Space Jam: A New Legacy
| Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Zendaya said she realizes the character of Lola is "special to a lot of people and their childhoods and they've been able to grow up with her, so I get that sense of protection."

"I was like, listen, just as long as I did what the director [Malcolm D. Lee] and the producers and everybody wanted me to do, I'm just here to offer my services," she added, laughing.

The Euphoria Emmy winner also said she has "always appreciated Lola because she's the only girl on the team, kind of holding it down for the ladies — and she's also an incredible player."

"I think in this reimagining of who she is, it just leans into that a little bit more, the fact that she's got these skills and she's an MVP. When we meet here, she's like, 'I'm being a warrior, an Amazon princess, I don't have time for this right now,'" Zendaya explained. "But she obviously ends up being such a crucial member of the team and really holding them all together. When they're going off on their looney moments, she brings everyone back."

Zendaya attends the Premiere of Warner Bros "Space Jam: A New Legacy"
Zendaya at the premiere of Space Jam: A New Legacy
| Credit: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

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Lee, 51, previously told EW that "Lola was not politically correct" in the original movie, and that the rework of her appearance was meant to present her as "feminine without being objectified."

In the more recent interview, the director told EW, "I had no idea that people would be that up in arms about a bunny not having boobs."

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"Listen, I understand people don't want things to change, but I think we needed some evolution with her, not by objectifying her but by making her strong and still feminine," he added. "And, yes, we had all these other women who were like, 'Oh, you can't be strong and have big boobs?!' Sure you can, but we're talking about a cartoon bunny, not women!"

Space Jam: A New Legacy hits theaters and HBO Max Friday.