Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget trailer teases new voice cast following Julia Sawalha controversy

Netflix has released the first official teaser for its forthcoming stop-motion comedy Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget, along with a whole new set of actors voicing the claymation characters.

The long-awaited sequel to the 2000 hit Chicken Run movie welcomes Thandiwe Newton and Zachary Levi in the lead roles of Rocky and Ginger, previously voiced by Julia Sawalha and Mel Gibson, respectively.

It also stars The Last of Us’s Bella Ramsey as Molly, the daughter of Rocky and Ginger.

“Last time we broke out of a chicken farm. Well, this time, we’re breaking in,” Newton’s Ginger says in the first teaser, which dropped on Tuesday (5 September).

Dawn of the Nugget follows Ginger as she builds a safe haven away from the evils of the human world (Tweedy Farm) that she’s just recently escaped from.

Following the eventual hatching of Molly, Rocky and Ginger think they’ve found their “happily ever after”. Although, there’s another kind of terrible threat looming overhead.

“For Ginger and her team, even if it means putting their own hard-won freedom at risk – this time, they’re breaking in!” an official logline reads.

Chicken Run (Aardman / Netflix)
Chicken Run (Aardman / Netflix)

While the sequel features an all-new lead cast, with comedian Ramesh Ranganathan and Ted Lasso breakout Nick Mohammed also on board, it will see Imelda Staunton, Lynn Ferguson and Jane Horrocks reprise their original roles.

The trailer comes three years after controversy surrounding the recasting of the film. In early 2020, Sawalha claimed she had been dropped from the film after being told her voice was “too old”.

The actor, 54, alleged that she was “informed out of the blue, via email” that her voice “now sounds ‘too old’ and they want a younger actress to reprise the role”.

In a statement posted to her social media at the time, Sawalha said that she was baffled over the decision, especially as she claimed not to have been asked to supply a “voice test” prior to the decision being made. She wrote that she went so far as to record her own voice test at home, which she then submitted to Aardman.

This made no difference, Sawalha claimed. She alleged that she received a letter from “one of the creatives” that said: “Some of the voices (not yours, I agree) definitely sound older.”

Aardman did not comment on Sawalha’s allegations at the time. The actor ended up being replaced by Newton, who is four years her junior, while 67-year-old Gibson was replaced by 42-year-old Levi.

Conceived by Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park and Aardman Animations co-founder Pete Lord, the original Chicken Run remains the highest-grossing stop-motion animated film of all time since its release in 2000, having earned $225m (£176.6m) at the box office.

Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget premieres on Netflix on 15 December.