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

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May

film

Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’

North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama

TV

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
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.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before