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CHICKEN RUN

About The Production
One of the first suggestions that Kirkpatrick brought was to make the central character of Rocky, "the lone free ranger," an American. "It occurred to me that if Rocky's relationship with the leader of the hens, Ginger, was to be somewhat cantankerous, then it might be interesting to introduce an element of culture clash. I thought it would work better if this brash, arrogant rooster was a cocky American," Kirkpatrick says.

Giving voice to Rocky, the cock of the walk in "Chicken Run," is international superstar Mel Gibson. Park recalls, "We must have listened to every conceivable American actor for the role, because we wanted a certain presence as well as a voice. Mel was a pretty irresistible choice."

Lord adds, "Apart from being funny, Mel brought a kind of self-deprecating touch to the role that makes Rocky incredibly charming. I mean, an essential part of the plot is that this foreigner comes into the farm and sweeps everyone off their feet, which, of course, Mel can do, but we also wanted that sort of self-aware, slightly ironic edge in his performance."

A longtime fan of Aardman's films, Gibson jumped at the chance to be part of their first full-length feature. "I've been an admirer of theirs ever since they began making the Wallace & Gromit series, and my kids love them too. They're hilarious and witty, and there's so much artistry involved.. .they have a real gift," he states. "Quite honestly, I thought the concept of this was pretty funny, and I loved the character. Rocky starts out with a rather high opinion of himself. He is very self-centered, but he learns to give to the other chickens, and that's when he becomes a hero. It's the classic journey for all heroes."

The actor also enjoyed the story's romantic angle. "Rocky's the only rooster in the hen house. I mean, these are pretty sweet chicks, so he's glad to be there," Gibson jokes. "Then he meets Ginger, the chicken of his dreams, and it follows the usual formula: rooster meets hen, rooster and hen fall in love, rooster loses hen.. .you know."

Ginger may turn out to be the love of Rocky's life, but she is also a chicken with a mission to lead her flock to freedom. "Ginger believes that with courage and perseverance you can overcome the seemingly impossible," Katzenberg observes. "She dares to dream of everybody making their escape, and what's wonderful about her is that she refuses to abandon anyone, though she could probably escape on her own if she chose. Her heart is with this extended family, and she won't leave them."

Julia Sawalha, who is the voice of Ginger, agrees. "Ginger sits on the top of her hut and looks out over the fields beyond and sees a free world with green grass and trees. She longs to escape, but she wants that for her friends as well. She's a fantastic character. She's very confident and is a great believer in doing what you set your mind to. She's also very kind-hearted, though she comes across as a bit bossy at times, but it's only because she wants the best for all her mates. She's got guts, and I love playing characters like that."

Though almost all of Rocky's scenes are with Ginger, Gibson and Sawalha only recorded together once at the beginning of the production. Nevertheless, it was enough for the filmmakers to see how their casting worked. "From the first line, there was a chemistry, a momentum," Eberts remembers. "There was a dynamic that was immediate, which carried on through the production, although they were never both in the same room at the same time again. It's really a tribute to them, as well as the entire cast, because actors have a hard time performing against a void."

To fill the void, the directors brought in line readers, but would sometimes jump int

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