Chicken coop 2 Director Sam Fell has addressed the controversy surrounding original voice star Julia Sawalha, who claims she was left out of the sequel because she looked “too old”.
Sawalha played the title character Ginger in the original Aardman animated film, released in 2000, about a gang of chickens plotting to escape the farm on which they are kept.
A belated sequel was announced in June 2020 but, a month later, Sawalha, 55, claimed to have been “informed out of the blue, by email” that her voice “now sounds ‘too old’ and that they want a younger actress to take over the role. role”.
In a statement published on his social networksSawalha said she was baffled by the decision, especially since she claims she was not asked to provide a “voice test” before the decision was made.
She wrote that she went so far as to submit her own voice test, recorded at home, to Aardman, which ultimately made no difference. Instead, Thandiwe Newton was cast as the character in the new film, titled Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nuggetwith Zachary Levi replacing Mel Gibson as the voice of Rocky.
“The reason given was that his voice is now too old,” Sawalha wrote. “I feel like I was cheated with the same excuse. I made great efforts to prove to the production that my voice is almost the same as that of the original film. If they bring in some of the original cast…let’s be honest, I feel like I’ve been unfairly dismissed.
She continued: “To say I am devastated and furious would be an understatement. I feel completely helpless, something about this doesn’t quite ring true. I trust my instincts and they raise red flags.
“I am saddened to have lost the chance to work with Nick Park and Peter Lord from whom I learned so much. Together we created Ginger. Today I responded wishing the production good luck and the greatest success with the sequel. I can’t do anything anymore… I’m leaving now.
Addressing that controversy in a new interview, Fell said he “loved” the original casting, but said he saw the new film “as a reboot more than just a sequel” and that “it seemed right to look at the whole picture and just think, “Is this still the best solution for this new story?”
He said Metro.co.uk: “The characters evolve, certainly the central characters, and Ginger evolved in this film. It’s a new chapter. It’s a new challenge. And in these lists proposed by the casting director, Thandiwe Newton seemed to me personally to be an incredible choice. I love the sound of his voice, the music.
Fell said he was ultimately convinced to cast Newton because of his performance in the HBO drama. Western worldtelling the outlet: “She is a staunch freedom fighter, but being a parent and having a daughter makes you vulnerable – and I really saw that in Thandiwe in Western world I felt, so I just made my choices.
The new film will see Ginger and Rocky, now living with their daughter (Bella Ramsey) in a “chicken utopia without humans”, facing a new threat. Returning original voice stars include Miranda Richardson, Imelda Staunton, Jane Horrocks and Lynn Ferguson.
Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget releases on Netflix on December 15.