Colin Firth leaves Paddington Bear movie claiming his voice 'did not fit'

The Oscar-winning actor did a Gwyneth Paltrow and 'consciously uncoupled'

Paddington Bear has his trademark duffle coat, red hat and the old battered suitcase full of marmalade sandwiches ready for his arrival on cinema screens across the country later this year. The problem just months before the film is due to open is the polite bear from darkest Peru has lost his voice.

The much-loved bear, whose adventures have delighted generations of children, was to be voiced in the Hollywood movie by Oscar-winner Colin Firth. Yet fans were shocked to learn yesterday that the 53-year-old had left the project.

The first full trailer for the film was released last week, but the computer generated bear did little more than grunt. It subsequently emerged that the actor had pulled out of the film because Paddington “doesn’t have my voice”, leaving the filmmakers scrabbling for a replacement ahead of the November release date.

Marylou Thistleton-Smith, managing director of voice over agency The Voiceover Gallery, said: “It will be a massive inconvenience but it isn’t the end of the world for the filmmakers. I was surprised he had been chosen for that part in the first place, because I don’t think his voice matches.”

She added that in jobs like this “just because they’re celebrities doesn’t mean their right for the job. They obviously want a big name but that character needs the right voice. I would have thought Paddington is a big enough name in himself”.

The voiceover agency chief said it was not common for actors to drop out at this late stage “but often we wouldn’t hear about it. It’s not that problematic as you can bring in someone else to revoice it.”

 

Last year Samantha Morton was replaced as the voice of a computer by Scarlett Johansson in post-production for the Spike Jonze film Her.

Paddington tells the story of the bear’s arrival in London and meeting the Brown family who give him a home. The live action stars include Nicole Kidman, Jim Broadbent and Hugh Bonneville, while Paddington has been rendered with graphics by Framestore, the visual effects company behind Gravity.

Firth, who won an Oscar for The King’s Speech, about a monarch finding his voice, announced news of his departure today. In a statement referencing the phrase used by Gwyneth Paltrow to reveal her separation from Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, the actor said: After a period of denial we’ve chosen ‘conscious uncoupling’.”

He said: “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,” adding: “I’ve had the joy of seeing most of the film and it’s going to be quite wonderful.”

Director Paul King said: “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.”

After his involvement was announced last year, Firth said he hoped to bring a “slight Peruvian flavour” to Paddington’s accent and revealed that some of the expressions and muscle movements in the bear’s face had been modelled on his own.

Ms Thisleton-Smith said: “It’s a different way of acting; he may not have got into it. You have to really overdo it because it’s not how you would speak naturally.”

“The problem is often they record the voice first and then create the animation to the voice. The new person may have to match the voice to the animation that already exists.”

Paddington marked his 50th anniversary in 2008, with author Michael Bond writing the first new novel for three decades, Paddington Here and Now.

The books have been translated into 30 languages selling more than 30 million copies. They were initially inspired by a bear Bond saw in a shop near Paddington Station, which now has a bronze sculpture of the character.

The movie is scheduled to hit UK cinemas on 28 November.

Arts and Entertainment
Wonder.land Musical by Damon Albarn

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
    Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

    Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

    Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

    Forget little green men

    Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy