It’s as well a bear can rest at ease with just the bare necessities of life, because for the time being at least, Paddington is a bear without a voice. StudioCanal has confirmed that Colin Firth, the voice of Paddington in Paul King’s live-action/CG family adventure, has officially exited the movie in a move the actor describes as a “conscious uncoupling” that took place during the recording process.
“It’s been bittersweet to see this delightful creature take shape and come to the sad realisation that he simply doesn't have my voice,” says Firth, hinting that the decision has been in the bath waters of Windsor Gardens for some time. “After a period of denial we've chosen conscious uncoupling. I've had the joy of seeing most of the film and it's going to be quite wonderful. I still feel rather protective of this bear and I'm pestering them all with suggestions for finding a voice worthy of him."
Says director Paul King: “Colin Firth has been a joy to collaborate with and I cannot thank him enough for his contribution to Paddington. We love the voice and we love the bear - but as our young bear came into being we agreed that the two didn’t seem to fit. So, with somewhat heavy hearts we decided to part ways. We are excited about the next chapter for Paddington, ensuring his big-screen debut is magnificent.”
Despite its sudden Firthlessness, Paddington boasts a cast rich in Oscarly pedigree. Nicole Kidman plays the furry Peruvian’s nemesis, an evil taxidermist looking to consciously uncouple Paddington from his head, while Sally Hawkins and Julie Walters are Mrs. Brown and the Browns’ stern-but-actually-quite-kindly housekeeper, Mrs. Bird, respectively. Hugh Bonneville, Jim Broadbent and Peter Capaldi also appear.
There’s no word on recasting as yet, so if you have jungle experience, a flair for hijinx and a hat, address your application to the studio. Best hurry, though, because the new voice part will be announced in the coming weeks.
Paddington arrives in UK cinemas on November 28.