By: Bill Bradley
Two decades ago, a bunch of lowbrow, bug-eyed, fatheaded, humor-challenged aliens came to Earth to steal the Looney Tunes away from us. Thanks to NBA star and American hero, Michael Jordan, that didn't happen.
Now, heading into the 20th anniversary of "Space Jam," many of the movie's stars have gone on to hall-of-fame careers. After a space ship dropped him off for his baseball game, Jordan went back to basketball and won more NBA championships; perhaps spring-boarded by his impressive play in the waning seconds against the Monstars, Bill Murray has become one of Hollywood's most beloved actors; and, as made apparent by every cartoon he's ever in, Wile E. Coyote has continued a successful career at getting blown up and stuff.
But not everyone from the movie relished in the limelight. One person in particular, who was integral to defeating the Monstars, actually walked away: the actress who played Michael Jordan's daughter, Penny Bae Bridges.
Here's MJ's on-screen daughter nowadays:
In "Space Jam," Bridges helps Daffy and Bugs get Michael Jordan's lucky shorts and sneakers so he can play for the Looney Tunes. After her role in the movie, the actress continued working in the industry, even starring in the TV show "Half & Half," but she tells The Huffington Post that acting just got to be too much during high school.
"I kind of got to the point where I was missing a lot of school, and I couldn't participate in sports. And I guess I just wanted to feel like I was a normal teenager, so I played volleyball. I was second team all-state."
Bridges says she was planning on getting back into acting but then got sidetracked after the birth of her son. "He's six now, so I'm a mommy, too," says the former child star.
Currently, Bridges is an artist, a musician and styles hair at a salon during the day. She's getting back into acting, though.
The "Space Jam" star opened up to HuffPost about what she's up to now, shared some secrets from the movie and confirmed, yes, Michael Jordan's arm can really stretch that far.
What's it like having the middle name "Bae"?
[Laugh] It is a little annoying because people think I'm doing it as part of a trend, and I'm like, "No! But it's my name!" But it's funny because one of my ex-boyfriends actually used to call me Bae. So I'm like, "You know we started this trend? People just don't even know it."
Do people still recognize you from "Space Jam"?
Not as much anymore. Every now and then though, I do get people who are like, "You look really familiar," and I'm like, "Yeah, 'Space Jam,'" because that's what everybody remembers.
What's the reaction?
It's funny because a lot of people when they find out I'm an actress they're like, "Oh my God!" But for me, it was like just something I loved to do, and to be able to be a part of something that affected so many kids and so many people in my generation, I get a lot of satisfaction out of that. I feel like it was the peak of child history of the '90s kids.
Actually, all my co-workers found out, and that kind of went like wildfire around the salon.
Well, everyone went on IMDb first, of course, and then just a lot of excitement because a lot of them used to watch the movie, and then they watch and they say, "That does look like her!"
So, thanks for helping find Michael Jordan's shoes.
Oh, of course, he couldn't play without that!
What was that scene like, because you had to act with Looney Tunes?
It was very interesting because they had cutouts of the characters, so we had to pretend there was someone there, so it was kind of a funny feeling. OK, I'm talking to this wooden cutout. He's talking to me right now.
Who was your favorite Looney Tune to work with?
The voice of Bugs Bunny. He was very entertaining. I think Bugs was the best.
How'd you get the part?
I do remember doing auditions, and my sister and I were both up for the same part. I don't remember much of the auditioning. We did lines here and there, but I remember when I found out about getting the part, I was about like 4, almost 5, and I was like, "Dad, what's Michael Jordan?" I had no idea who he was, so Dad's like, "Oh, it's OK. I'll come on set with you." [Laugh]
Do people ever confuse you for Michael's real daughter?
Yes! It's funny because they made a little book that shows stuff we did on set. And they actually snapped a picture with my sister in his lap and quoted it, "Michael Jordan with his real daughter." So people didn't think I was his daughter, but they thought my sister was because she was my double on set.
[Laugh] Wow that's awesome.
In the hallway scene, when I'm running down the hallway and my slipper falls off and I grab it, it was actually my sister, who was my double. But because it was so cute, they decided to keep it and hope people wouldn't notice.
In the movie, Michael Jordan kind of lifts you in the air like a basketball. What was that like?
It felt like I was 200 feet in the air! Because he's a tall guy, and I was 4 years old.
Do you remember meeting him?
I remember him being a very tall, very nice guy. He set up a basketball hoop, so me and the other kids played with him on set. So I can say, "Yeah, I played basketball with Michael Jordan!" And I remember everyone making a big deal about who he was, but I still didn't get it until I was a little older.
What was the hoop like?
It was off in one of the buildings with the set, and it was just a really tall basketball hoop, and I think they had smaller ones for the short people. And then we had a bunch of "Space Jam" basketballs. It was fun. We just played when we had some free time.
Do people ever ask you for his autograph?
Yeah, yeah, they have. I'm like, "I don't know. I don't really have his phone number anymore, sorry."
Have you heard about LeBron maybe starring in "Space Jam 2"?
I think it would be interesting. I know basketball fans have their rivalries and opinions on LeBron, but I think it would be awesome. I think it would be a good movie to do. Hey, maybe I can play his girlfriend.
Has anyone contacted you about it?
Oh, I would definitely be interested in coming back. No. I haven't heard anything, but I would be a little sad if I wasn't cast at least somewhere.
Have you been on the original "Space Jam" website?
I did. I actually looked not too long ago, and I thought it was kind of funny because you can tell it was put together in the '90s.
Do you think we could find Looney Tunes through a hole on a golf course?
I hope so. I'm sure a lot of kids hope so. That'd be fun.
Does Michael Jordan really have secret stuff?
I think a lot of basketball players probably have secret stuff they drink, but for him, probably not. He doesn't need it. He's already got it.
Can MJ actually stretch his arm like that?
I've seen him do that in real life [laugh]. Haven't you?