By Clark Collis
July 10, 2020 at 01:01 PM EDT

Actress Julia Sawalha claims to have been unfairly dismissed from the sequel to Aardman Animations's 2000 animated film Chicken Run because her voice now sounds "too old." In the original movie, Sawalha voiced a chicken called Ginger who recruits Mel Gibson's rooster Rocky to help her and her fellow chickens escape from a farm.

On Thursday, Julia Sawalha posted a statement on Twitter alleging that she was told her voice now sounds "too old" to voice the character.

"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," Sawalha said in the statement. "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, which you can view here —

"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.'"

Julia Sawalha; Chicken Run
Credit: Mike Marsland/WireImage; Everett Collection

Without mentioning Gibson's name, Sawalha claimed that he too had been dismissed for sounding too old.

"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 continued. "If they will be using some of the original cast members...let's be frank, I feel I have been unfairly dismissed."

Sawalha concluded by saying that she was sad to have lost the chance to work with Chicken Run directors Nick Park and Peter Lord and that she was "off for the chop now."

The original Chicken Run also featured the vocal talents of Phil Daniels, Jane Horrocks, Miranda Richardson, Timothy Spall, and Imelda Staunton. Sawalha's other credits include the 1995 miniseries version of Pride and Prejudice and Absolutely Fabulous.

It was announced last month that Aardman Animations were producing a Chicken Run sequel which would debut on Netflix. Aardman has yet to respond to a request for comment about Sawalha's statement. A spokesperson for Mel Gibson declined to comment on the matter.

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