Has the re-cancellation of Mel Gibson begun? If so, it’s beginning in the kind of role where his replacement will be heard, and not seen. Zachary Levi of Shazam! fame will be stepping in to voice Rocky — one of the heroes of the 2000 animated classic Chicken Run — for the long-awaited sequel Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget.
As reported by The Verge, Netflix announced last summer that a Chicken Run sequel was on the way, but almost no specifics came along with that announcement. Now, along with releasing a promotional image for the sequel (below), Netflix has delivered some more info, including the title Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget. Along with Zachary Levi replacing Mel Gibson as Rocky, Thandie Newton (Westworld) will be stepping in as the new voice of Ginger, who was previously voiced by Julia Sawalha. Returning from the first film are the three actresses who voiced the chickens Babs (Jane Horrocks), Hunty (Imelda Staunton), and Mac (Lynn Ferguson). The cast will also include Josie Sedgwick-Davies as Edie, David Bradley as Fowler, Romesh Ranganathan as Nick, Daniel Mays as Fletcher, and Nick Mohammed as Dr. Fry.
The new movie will find Zachary Levi’s Rocky and Thandie Newton’s Ginger dealing with the new challenge of raising their daughter Molly, voiced by Bella Ramsey (Game of Thrones). While, of course, completely adoring their daughter, the chickens are frustrated trying to rein in a child who wants to wander a lot more than they’re comfortable with. Netflix offered a firm release date for the sequel yet, though it’s expected to be ready to stream some time in 2023.
There’s been no official word on why Mel Gibson has been replaced in the voice role he originated back in 2000’s Chicken Run, or if it has anything to do with the controversial figure he’s since become. As Joshua Malina of The West Wing fame wrote in a December op-ed, one could argue Gibson’s once again rising star seems to singlehandedly disprove the existence of so-called “cancel culture.” While Zachary Levi may be replacing him in the Chicken Run sequel, in 2020 Gibson starred opposite Frank Grillo in the sci-fi time loop action hit Boss Level. The trailer for his next film, Last Looks, dropped last week. News recently came out that he had been cast in the family adventure film Boys of Summer, he’s reportedly attached to a John Wick spinoff TV series, and he’ll apparently be stepping in to replace the late Richard Donner as the director of Lethal Weapon 5.
It could be, of course, that putting in Zachary Levi to replace Mel Gibson had nothing to do with the latter’s controversial reputation, considering Sawalha was likewise replaced. It could also be that Newton’s casting in Sawalha’s old role could be a tactic to keep the production out of any controversial backlash. Regardless of why Gibson was replaced, fans are celebrating Levi’s stepping in, including writer/director Brian Koch who is known for animated projects like Inanimate Insanity.
The same year Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget is expected to hit Netflix, Zachary Levi will be set to appear in Shazam! Fury of the Gods. Like any major superhero movie, there are plenty of rumors swirling around about what to expect in the sequel to 2019’s Shazam! Among other things, Gal Gadot is rumored to be making an appearance as Wonder Woman, and there’s also speculation Dwayne Johnson could appear as Shazam’s comic book rival, Black Adam.