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Chicken Run 2 director addresses Aardman sequel's recasting controversy


Aardman sequel Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget hasn't even been released yet, but it's already ruffled a few feathers when it comes to diehard fans of the 2000 animation.

When the follow-up's voice cast was announced way back in July 2020, many were gobsmacked to learn that Julia Sawalha wouldn't be back as Ginger and, instead, Westworld star Thandiwe Newton had joined the coop. As time passed, the negative reaction simmered down somewhat, until the movie's official trailer revealed that Miranda Richardson was back as Mrs. Tweedy, sparking more confusion over why Sawalha didn't get the same treatment.

"Some people changed, and some didn't; it was just a personal choice," Fell, who previously collaborated with Aardman on Flushed Away, explains candidly in the new issue of Total Film, which hits shelves next week. "It's all part of bringing it into my realm and making it for now."

Fell, a self-proclaimed lover of Peter Lord and Nick Park's beloved stop-motion chick flick, said he nodded to the original in other ways, like having Rocky (Zachary Levi, taking over from Mel Gibson) use mechanical devices to take flight several times. (In the first film, he goes along with Ginger and her pals' belief that he can fly so that they keep him around and he can lap up their attention).

Behind the scenes on Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget
Behind the scenes on Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget

"I definitely wanted to dive into the first film and establish that connection," he notes, while explaining that he sees Dawn of the Nugget as part sequel, part reboot. You can see two exclusive new images from the film above, taken from the upcoming issue of Total Film magazine.

"Having pulled off a death-defying escape from Tweedy's farm, Ginger has finally found her dream — a peaceful island sanctuary for the whole flock, far from the dangers of the human world," the official synopsis reads. "When she and Rocky hatch a little girl called Molly, Ginger's happy ending seems complete. But back on the mainland the whole of chicken-kind faces a new and terrible threat."

Joining Newton and Levi are fellow newbies Bella Ramsey, who voices Ginger and Rocky's daughter Molly, Romesh Ranganathan, Nick Mohammed, and David Bradley, as well as returning players Jane Horrocks, Lynn Ferguson, and Imelda Staunton.

Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget releases on Netflix on December 15. For more from our interview with Fell, as well as chats with other film and TV names, pick up a copy of the new issue of Total Film when it hits newsstands on November 9. Check out the covers below:

The Bikeriders Total Film cover
The Bikeriders Total Film cover

Pre-order the issue here to bag your copy, or click here to subscribe to Total Film and never miss another exclusive. With our latest offer, you can get a JOBY Magnetic Wireless Charger worth £29.95 when you take out a print subscription.

Total film subs
Total film subs