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Why Mel Gibson has been replaced as voice of Rocky in Chicken Run sequel

Why Mel Gibson has been replaced as voice of Rocky in Chicken Run sequel

Not quite the same rooster

The hotly-anticipated sequel to Chicken Run has left some fans confused as to why Mel Gibson wasn't voicing Rocky again - but it seems there's reasoning behind the decision.

Premiered at BFI London Film Festival in October, Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget sees Ginger and Rocky welcome daughter Molly (voiced by The Last of Us star Bella Ramsey) and look for their idyllic happy ending at a bird sanctuary. However, their safety is under attack when a familiar foe threatens them, leading to the entire chicken population to fight back to maintain their newfound independence.

Produced by Aardman Animations in partnership with Netflix, the stop-motion film from director Sam Fell sees Westworld's Thandiwe Newton voice Ginger, taking over from Julia Sawalha, while Shazam! protagonist Zachary Levi lent his voice to Rocky, previously played by Gibson in the original 2000 movie.

Mel Gibson voiced Rocky in the first Chicken Run film.
Steve Granitz/FilmMagic

Asked about the choice to recast Gibson's role, specifically, Fell boiled it down to Rocky being a whole new bird this time around.

"Mel was a fabulous choice for Rocky when he was this playboy rooster," he told The Hollywood Reporter.

"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."

Fell, known for co-directing animated horror comedy ParaNorman, also touched upon the challenges of not making a 'carbon copy' of the first, beloved Chicken Run film, helmed by Peter Lord and Nick Park.

"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," he said.

The sequel hit Netflix earlier this month.

"I didn't want to be too precious around it," Fell continued.

"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."

He concluded: "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."

Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget is now streaming on Netflix.

Featured Image Credit: Steve Granitz/FilmMagic / Netflix

Topics: TV and Film, Netflix, Celebrity