Voice actress Julia Sawalha has spoken out against the producers of the upcoming Chicken Run sequel after she was reportedly axed from the upcoming movie for sounding much older than she used to, The Hollywood Reporter reported on Friday.
In the original 2000 movie, she voiced the character of Ginger, but recently learned that her role would be recast for Chicken Run 2. She is not the only actor affected; Mel Gibson’s character, Rocky, will also be recast.
According to Sawalha, the reason she will not be in the sequel is that her voice sounds “too old,” and the producers have opted to cast a younger actress as Ginger.
At the time she starred in the first film, Sawalha was 30 years old, she is now 51.
The star took to her Twitter account to publish an open letter slamming the producers for not asking her to return for the sequel film.
She used the hashtag “ageism” to promote it.
— Julia Sawalha (@JuliaSawalha1) July 9, 2020
Sawalha said she was told she would not be part of the sequel via an email from her agent.
She added that typically, in situations such as this one, an actress would get an opportunity to do a “voice test” to “determine the suitability of their pitch and tone.”
The Absolutely Fabulous star alleged she was not given that chance, so she conducted her own test at home and then shared it with a member of the production team. According to her, the team member agreed with her that her voice sounded similar to how it did in Chicken Run.
“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. If they will be using some of the original cast members… let’s be frank, I feel I have been unfairly dismissed.”
Later in her letter, she wrote that saying she was “devastated and furious would be an understatement.”
She added that she felt “powerless” and “saddened” to not get the opportunity to work alongside Peter Lord and Nick Park again.
“The three of us, together, created Ginger,” Sawalha continued.
Gibson is reportedly also being recast because he sounds much older, although Sawalha said her statement came before she knew he was being axed as well.
While Chicken Run 2 was announced in 2018, it has not moved forward to the production phase until now. Netflix recently announced that it partnered with Aardman Animations to create the film with plans for it to go into production next year.
The original film is “the most successful stop-motion animation of all time.”