If you were excited about a sequel to Chicken Run after 20 years, we have some news that is supremely disappointing.
British actress Julia Sawalha, who voiced the character Ginger in the original stop-motion animated movie from Aardman Animation, recently revealed that she will not be reprising her role in Chicken Run 2 for one very stupid reason. Apparently the producers of the movie told Sawalha’s agent that Ginger would be recast with a younger actress because her voice was deemed to sound “too old.” This decision came without even being given a voice test to make that determination.
Deadline drew our attention to a post on Twitter made by Julia Sawalha in which she explained the situation:
— Julia Sawalha (@JuliaSawalha1) July 9, 2020
In the letter linked in her tweet, she explained, “Last week I was informed out of the blue, via email, through my agent that I would not be cast as Ginger in the Chicken Run sequel. The reason they gave is that my voice now sounds ‘too old’ and they want a younger actress to reprise the role.”
She went on to explain that usually there would have been some kind of opportunity to do a vocal test before this kind of decision was made, especially with the reasoning provided. But Sawalha was never given that chance. Since she wasn’t ready to go down without a fight, she took it upon herself to record lines as Ginger along with clips from the original movie for comparison. See if you think she sounds “too old” by watching the voice test she completed over here.
After producers received the video, one of the creatives behind the movie responded by saying, “Some of the voices (not yours, I agree) definitely sound older.” However, in the same breath, they still said, “We will be going ahead to re-cast the voice of Ginger.”
Sawalha further explained that she received notification about this casting decision after it was revealed Mel Gibson would not be returning for the Chicken Run sequel. Funnily enough, the reasoning for his recasting was that Gibson’s voice also sounded too old now, and not because of instances of him consistently being racist and sexist. But that’s another conversation entirely.
It’s not clear if any of the other Chicken Run cast members are returning, or if they’re all being brushed off with the same excuse. The actress closed the letter by saying:
“I feel I have been unfairly dismissed. To say I am devastated and furious would be an understatement. I feel totally powerless, something in all of this doesn’t quite ring true. I trust my instincts and they are waving red flags. I am saddened that I have lost the chance to work with Nick Park and Peter Lord from whom I learnt so much. The three of us, together, created Ginger. Today I responded by wishing the production the best of luck and the greatest success with the sequel.”
It’s simultaneously shocking and yet not surprising at all that this kind of thing is still happening, especially when there’s clear evidence that the reasoning isn’t even sound…and I mean that quite literally. A big part of the reason that Chicken Run works so well is because of the great cast, and to shove off one of the stars so disrespectfully like this is truly disappointing. Perhaps Aardman Animation wants to go with a more recognizable actress to take the role in order to get more eyes on a sequel, but that just seems unnecessary, and it certainly makes me less than excited for Chicken Run 2. Maybe if there’s enough uproar from fans, they’ll change their mind and bring Julia Sawalha back.
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