Colin Firth’s departure from the voice role of Paddington Bear in June has set off a search for a new actor to bring life to the beloved character. As announced by StudioCanal on their Twitter, the search has finally ended, and British actor Ben Whishaw will be stepping into Paddington’s famous wellies.
Paddington will bring the bear’s adventures – and misadventures – to the big screen for the first time. Hailing from Peru, the marmalade-loving Paddington travels across the sea and all the way to London, where he is found at his namesake, Paddington Station. The character of Paddington Bear was created in 1958 by Michael Bond in a series of children’s books illustrated by Peggy Fortnum. The success of the books has endeared Paddington to children everywhere, and it is rare to walk into any London gift shop nowadays without being surrounded by Paddington teddies and toys.
Paddington marks the first animated voice role for Whishaw, a BAFTA winner who has earned acclaim for his work on both screen and stage. Although he first rose to prominence in Britain with his portrayal of Hamlet at London’s Old Vic a decade ago, he is best known to international audiences as the younger new incarnation of James Bond’s quartermaster “Q” in Skyfall. Whishaw has also starred in films such as Cloud Atlas and Bright Star, and television series including Cold War drama The Hour and The Hollow Crown,BBC’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Henriad” tetralogy.
The film boasts an impressive cast, with Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins as Mr. and Mrs. Brown, the kindly English couple who welcome Paddington into their family. They are joined by Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Nicole Kidman, and Peter Capaldi – who, unsurprisingly, will portray the irascible Mr. Curry. The actors have reportedly already finished shooting their scenes, and all that is left is for Whishaw to provide the voice and facial expressions for the CG bear.
Paddington is scheduled to arrive in UK cinemas on November 28, followed by a North American release on Christmas Day.