‘Wallace and Gromit 2’ Will Be the First Without This Key Cast Member

Stop-motion animation might not be nearly as prevalent as it once was. But this particular style still has its defenders and ardent fans. And Aardman Animations — the studio behind Wallace and Gromit — is one of the most popular creators of stop-motion animated projects. Now its signature duo is headed back for more. However, Wallace and Gromit 2 will be the first movie since the series’ most instrumental cast member died.

Nick Park, creator of Wallace & Gromit, poses with figurines of the characters in front of a poster for ‘Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit’
Nick Park, creator of Wallace & Gromit | Eduardo Parra/FilmMagic

The ‘Wallace and Gromit’ franchise dates back to 1989

Over the years, Aardman has brought many beloved characters to life on the big screen. These include the titular birds in 2000’s Chicken Run, Shaun the Sheep, and even Arthur Christmas. But beyond a doubt, the studio’s most recognizable heroes are Wallace and Gromit, an absent-minded inventor and his devoted dog. And the characters have been with Aardman since the very beginning.

Wallace and Gromit made their feature debut in 2005’s Oscar-winning Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. So some fans might believe this was the characters’ introduction to the world. In fact, the Wallace and Gromit franchise started with a series of short films dating all the way back to 1989. For context, the first Wallace and Gromit short film, A Grand Day Out, was released the same year Disney released The Little Mermaid.

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Peter Sallis, the actor who voiced Wallace, died in 2017

From the beginning on, Peter Sallis provided the unmistakable voice of Wallace. And since Gromit doesn’t speak, Sallis was inarguably the most important cast member of the Wallace and Gromit franchise. Now according to The Hollywood Reporter, a big-screen Wallace and Gromit 2 is officially in the works over at Netflix for a 2024 release. But as Sallis died in 2017, the new movie will be the first major entry in the franchise not to feature him as Wallace.

Admittedly, Ben Whitehead has voiced Wallace since 2009, at which point Sallis retired from the role. But the iconic comedy duo of Wallace and Gromit hasn’t starred in a short film or a feature since then. And the only TV project to come out of the franchise is 2010’s Wallace and Gromit’s World of Invention, for which Sallis had already recorded his dialogue. While no casting has been announced for the new movie, presumably Whitehead will play Wallace.

‘Wallace and Gromit 2’ might have a plan for introducing the new Wallace

Likely, most fans will find it jarring to watch Wallace and Gromit 2 without Sallis’ voice tied to Wallace. But by the sounds of its story, the sequel has a plan to ease that transition. Its plot reportedly centers on Gromit’s mission to save Wallace from his overdependency on his own inventions. If that description is any indication, perhaps the movie will feature more of the silent Gromit than his chatty companion, lessening the loss of Sallis this time around.

The Muppets Christmas Carol tried a similar tactic in the early 1990s. The film was the first Muppet movie produced after the death of Jim Henson, creator and original voice of Kermit the Frog. That movie’s solution was to put Kermit a bit more in the background as fans acclimated to Steve Whitmire’s Kermit voice. With Michael Caine’s Ebenezer Scrooge the focus, the move worked, and Whitmire successfully played Kermit until 2016.

Wallace and Gromit 2 is set to arrive on Netflix sometime in 2024.

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