UK actress Julia Sawalha has said she is ‘devastated and furious’ at not being in the Chicken Run sequel, claiming she was told her voice sounds ‘too old’, reports BBC.
Sawalha, who played Ginger the chicken in the 2000 animated original, said she felt she had been ‘unfairly dismissed’.
The actress said she had ‘officially been plucked, stuffed & roasted’ after being told the role was being recast, but wished the film ‘the best of luck’.
The BBC has asked Aardman Animations and distributor Netflix for comment. In an open letter, the Absolutely Fabulous and Cranford star said she had been ‘informed out of the blue’ that the producers of Chicken Run 2 were recasting Ginger.
‘The reason they gave is that my voice now sounds ‘too old’ and they wanted a younger actress,’ she wrote.
Sawalha responded by filming herself speaking some of her old dialogue and sending the video to the sequel’s producers.
She said she had received a ‘very kind’ response from an unnamed ‘creative’ - who said the recasting would still go ahead.
Sawalha, best known for playing Saffy in Absolutely Fabulous, said she felt ‘fobbed off’ and ‘totally powerless’.
She wrote: ‘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.
‘I am saddened that I have lost the chance to work with Nick Park and Peter Lord from whom I learnt so much.’
Park and Lord directed the original Chicken Run, with the sequel to be directed by Sam Fell. Lord is one of the its executive producers, while Park is on board as a ‘creative consultant’.
Sawalha’s statement follows reports that Mel Gibson will not be reprising his Rocky the Rooster role in Chicken Run 2.
While not mentioning Gibson by name, Sawalha suggested he had been ‘axed’ because his voice was ‘now too old’ and that the same ‘excuse’ was being used to justify her exclusion.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Film