Chicken Run Dawn Of The Nugget

After 23 years, Ginger and Rocky are back in a sequel to Aardman classic Chicken Run.

Directed by Sam Fell, Chicken Run: Dawn Of The Nugget sees the duo and their daughter Molly (Bella Ramsey) on a mission to secure their freedom after escaping Tweedy’s farm.

The film has largely replaced the voice cast from the original, with Thandiwe Newton and Zachary Levi taking over from Julia Sawalha and Mel Gibson respectively in the lead roles. The returning cast members include Jane Horrocks as Babs, Imelda Staunton as Bunty, Lynn Ferguson as Mac and Miranda Richardson as Mrs Tweedy.

Nick Park and Peter Lord, who directed the original Chicken Run, serve as executive producers on the sequel alongside Carla Shelley.

Why was Mel Gibson replaced as Rocky in Chicken Run: Dawn Of The Nugget?

Mel Gibson
Mel Gibson. CREDIT: Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Director Sam Fell explained the reason behind the various recastings in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, where he said Gibson was replaced because Rocky’s role is “different”.

“Mel was a fabulous choice for Rocky when he was this playboy rooster,” Fell said. “He was a movie star and Rocky was a movie star. It was perfect. But now Rocky’s more vulnerable. He’s a first time father. It’s more Ginger’s movie, so his role is different.”

The rest of the absences however, including Benjamin Whitrow (Fowler), Timothy Spall (Nick) and Phil Daniels (Fetcher), are down to the sequel being “almost a reboot”, according to the director.

“Going back to that temptation to make this thing and the nervously and apprehension about making it right, as much as I absolutely adore the first film, which I think is a masterpiece, I didn’t feel like I wanted to make a carbon copy,” Fell said.

“I didn’t want to be too precious around it. So in those first two years I started to make my own decisions and felt, casting wise, we’re 23 years later. It’s a long time. It’s almost a reboot to be honest. It’s a new director and a new era. And I just started thinking, were all those casting decisions made in the late ’90s still the best for the roles now.

“It’s a very personal creative process and I felt in some cases it didn’t quite fit anymore. Sometimes I felt it should stay the same. Ultimately I felt like this film has evolved since the first film, the world has turned on its axis and things have changed.”

Have the actors said anything about being replaced?

Chicken Run: Dawn Of The Nugget
‘Chicken Run: Dawn Of The Nugget’. CREDIT: Netflix/Aardman

In 2020, Julia Sawalha said she was “devastated and furious” over her absence in the sequel, claiming she was told her voice sounds “too old”.

In a now-deleted open letter (via BBC), Sawalha said she had “officially been plucked, stuffed & roasted” and that she had been “informed out of the blue” about the decision to recast Ginger.

“The reason they gave is that my voice now sounds ‘too old’ and they wanted a younger actress,” she added.

“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 wrote. “I am saddened that I have lost the chance to work with Nick Park and Peter Lord from whom I learnt so much.”

Chicken Run: Dawn Of The Nugget is available to stream on Netflix.

The post Why isn’t Mel Gibson in ‘Chicken Run: Dawn Of The Nugget’? appeared first on NME.


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