JULIA SAWALHA has revealed her fury after being axed from Chicken Run 2 for “sounding too old”.
The actress, who played Ginger in the original movie back in 2000, was told by her agent that filmmakers want to recast the role.
In an open letter to fans, Julia revealed she wasn’t even offered a voice test to prove herself – and supporters are in such a flap they’ve launched a petition demanding movie bosses re-think the decision.
The 51-year-old Ad Fab star wrote: “Dear Reader, 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.”
Revealing she wouldn’t “go down without a fight”, Julia shared a video of her own voice test which appeared to prove she’d lost none of the charm that made Ginger so popular first time around.
However, it proved futile, with bosses sticking to their decision.
Julia continued: “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.”
Having proven that she was up to the job in her home video, Julia said: “I feel I have been unfairly dismissed.”
She penned: “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.
“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, Ginger x.”
The stop-motion animated classic by Aardman Animations had an all-star cast including Mel Gibson and Timothy Spall.
But it was Julia’s Ginger that was top chick as she led the mission to escape Mrs Tweedy’s farm before being made into pies.
A petition demanding movie chiefs reverse their decision has been launched on change.org.
Signatories are told: “Julia Sawalha has been told by the Producers of Chicken Run 2 that the lead character of Ginger will be recast for the sequel with no explanation given for her dismissal. The only vague reason offered was that she “sounded older”, which she proved to be completely false in a video, accessible here: https://vimeo.com/436878444/9f85aae60e
“Fans of the original Chicken Run film don’t want to hear a “younger” “more famous” voice actor replacing such a beloved and iconic character.
“Ms. Sawalha’s performance is a fundamental component of the character and without her involvement, the film will be negatively affected.
“Aardman Animation has garnered such a beloved following because of its themes of underdogs rising to greatness. This vile big corporation decision to break what isn’t broken, in the name of making something more up to date is ridiculous.”