Chicken Run star Julia Sawalha has been chopped from the untitled sequel coming to Netflix, revealing she was told she now sounds "too old" to reprise her role as Ginger from the 2000 original that co-starred Mel Gibson. In a statement published to social media Friday, the 51-year-old actress wrote she was "devastated and furious" to learn through email last week that a "younger actress" will voice the headstrong hen in Chicken Run 2. According to Sawalha, producers did not give her the opportunity to voice test for the new movie that will also recast Gibson as the voice of rooster Rocky.
"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," Sawalha writes in a statement. "The reason they gave is that my voice now sounds 'too old' and they want a younger actress to reprise the role."
"Usually in these circumstances, an actress would be given the chance to do a voice test in order to determine the suitability of their pitch and tone, I however was not given this opportunity," Sawalha writes. The actress included a link to a recently recorded video on her Vimeo page, showing Sawalha recreating lines from the original movie.
Sawalha received a "very kind and thoughtfully written response" from a Chicken Run 2 creative, who wrote: "Some of the voices (not yours, I agree) definitely sound older. ... We will be going ahead to re-cast the voice of Ginger."
The actress received a letter of dismissal one day before it was learned Gibson will not return to voice Rocky. "The reason given was that his voice is now too old," Sawalha writes of the 64-year-old Gibson. "I feel I have been fobbed off with the same excuse."
"I went to great lengths to prove to the production that my voice is nigh on the same as it was in the original film," Sawalha continues. "If they will be using some of the original cast members... let's be frank, I feel I have been unfairly dismissed."
Adding she is "devastated and furious," Sawalha writes, "I feel totally powerless, something in all of this doesn't quite ring true. I trust my instincts and they are waving red flags."
Sawalha is "saddened" not to work with Nick Park and Peter Lord, directors of the original movie, writing, "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," Sawalha writes of Chicken Run 2, from Flushed Away director Sam Fell. "There is nothing more I can do, other than to thank all of you who loved and still love Chicken Run, as I do. I'm off for the chop now."
Sawalha's statement — which included the hashtag #ageism when posted to Twitter — has been met by support for the actress.
"I will not be watching [the sequel]," reads one Twitter user's reply. "This is so wrong!" Another Twitter user, reacting to Sawalha's dismissal with the hashtag #BoycottChickenRun2, writes: "Treatment of Julia Sawalha, one of our best actresses, has been utterly disgraceful, motivated entirely by ageism."
Chicken Run 2 centers on Molly, the daring daughter of Rocky and Ginger.
I will not be watching. This is so wrong! #BoycottChickenRun2— Patrick McDonough (@dieselking69) July 9, 2020
I AM SO ANGRY AT THIS!!!! YOU ARE GINGER. GINGER IS YOU!!! I DIDNT WAIT 20 YEARS FOR THIS!!!!!! I AM SO SORRY!!!!!!— SeanMossy 🚀 (@SeanMossy) July 9, 2020
So the producers of #ChickenRun2 think @JuliaSawalha1 is past her voice prime .. shame on you .. @aardman Ginger was Julia & Julia is Ginger. I for one will #BoycottChickenRun2 along with my children (who won't have a choice) https://t.co/13n7PCjYPi— Pete Edwards🏴 (@MrPeteEdwards) July 10, 2020
As a longtime fan of @JuliaSawalha1 I’m *livid* about the recasting of Ginger. I will not watch the sequel. Ageism against even women voiceover actors is repugnant. #boycottchickenrun2 https://t.co/N4gxUBXlOe— Sole Moderate Librarian (@JillRhudy) July 10, 2020
"Too old to play the part"?
Homer Simpson has been played by the same man since 1987.
Winnie the Pooh is voiced by a 67 year old.
Age is mostly irrelevant, it's whether or not you've got the talent. And, of course, Sawalha indeed does.— twotonmoon🏴 (@MontoonToons) July 10, 2020
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