Ben Whishaw Takes On Role Colin Firth Couldn't 'Bear'

As voice of Paddington in film of popular children's classic


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Ben Whishaw has been confirmed as the new voice of Paddington Bear, following Colin Firth's recent 'conscious uncoupling' from the role.

The Chiswick-based star, who won an Oscar for playing a British monarch with a speech impediment had pulled out of the part feeling his vocal talents did not suit the character.

Whishaw (33), above, who starred in Skyfall and won praise for his portrayal of Richard II in the BBC's Hollow Crown series, was initially reluctant to take on the part saying he had "no relationship" with the books as a child.

But after hearing Whishaw audition, director Paul King said he "slowly found myself hearing his voice when I was thinking about Paddington".

"He breathes and he speaks and he sounds like Paddington."

The film, which also stars Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey) and Sally Hawkins as Mr and Mrs. Brown, is due for release in the UK this November.

Julie Walters and Jim Broadbent also star, along with Nicole Kidman who confessed to being a big fan of the Michael Bond books when she was a child. Kidman recently co-starred with Colin Firth in The Railway Man.

Colin Firth as Eric Lomax in The Railway Man

The first Paddington Bear story was published in 1958. Author Michael Bond based the character on a teddy bear he bought on Christmas Eve 1956 as a present for his wife. He said the story was inspired by his memories of seeing newsreels of children evacuated from the cities, with identity labels around their necks.

The books were translated in thirty languages and sold over 30 million copies worldwide. A number of television adaptations have been made, including a Paddington Bear animation voiced by Sir Michael Hordern. The marmalade-sandwich chomping bear and his duffle coat have delighted children for generations.

The film is being produced by Harry Potter veteran David Heyman and directed by Paul King (The Mighty Boosh). It is expected to be released on November 28th.



July 18, 2014