I’ve never actually seen 2000’s Chicken Run, which The Hollywood Reporter calls “the most successful stop-motion animation of all time,” but if I did, I don’t think I’d be all too concerned that one of the chickens didn’t sound her age, especially given the fact that the average life-span of a chicken is 5-10 years. So when I learned that former HSOTD Julia Sawalha, the actress who voiced Ginger in the original wasn’t being invited back to reprise her role in the upcoming sequel, I assumed it must have been because she was a raging anti-Semite with bad breath and a storied history of being a racist homophobe. However, it turns out she didn’t get invited back because she is an ancient 51-year-old and the producers told her they were going to recast a younger actor for the role. 51, can you imagine? That’s like 500 in chicken years!
Here’s a Tweet Julia sent out with a note detailing the situation as it was relayed to her.
— Julia Sawalha (@JuliaSawalha1) July 9, 2020
As we know, Mel Gibson was not asked to return as CR’s cock of the walk Rocky either. No reason was given for Mel’s exclusion, but the news coincided with Winona Ryder reminding everybody of Mel’s history of antisemitism. Conclusions were drawn. No chicken should ever joke about ovens. However, Julia says that producers told her that Mel’s part was also being recast with a younger actor. In an open letter, Julia says she received the news that producers thought her voice was “too old,” the day before it was announced that Mel’s character would also be recast. Her letter reads, in part:
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. 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. I am passionate about my work and I don’t go down without a fight, so I did my own voice test at home and sent it to the producers…
Today I received a very kind and thoughtfully written response from one of the creatives, outlining their decision, most notably saying “Some of the voices (not yours, I agree) definitely sound “older”. However, they stated “We will be going ahead to re-cast the voice of Ginger”
I received my letter of dismissal the day before it was announced that the ‘Lone Free Ranger’ had been axed from the sequel and that the character of Rocky was to be re-voiced. The reason given was that his voice is now too old. I feel I have been fobbed off with the same excuse.
Here’s the voice test Julia did, proving she can still cluck like a hen half her age (which is 250 in chicken years). If she sounds like she’s been gargling gravel, and she doesn’t, it’s only because she’s gone method and has been collecting small stones and pebbles in her gizzard to help her digest seeds, grains and bugs. It’s called ACTING, people!