Bond star Ben Whishaw replaces Colin Firth as new voice of Paddington Bear
James Bond star Ben Whishaw has taken over Oscar-winner Colin Firth as the new voice of the infamous Paddington Bear in the upcoming film Paddington.
Colin Firth was initially set to voice Paddington, but in June he respectfully stepped down from the role after it was decided that “a slightly more open and younger voice” was required.
Producer David Heyman and director Paul King told the Daily Mail: “Firth had sensed early on in the production that his voice did not suit the bear.”
The duo admitted that “Colin was brilliant, but his voice was, ultimately, too mature” for the part. He had doubts and asked them “Are you sure I’m right?”
The filmmaker’s next choice was 33-year old Whishaw, who has starred in mega hits Skyfall and The Hollow Crown.
After hearing Whishaw’s audition King remarked: “He slowly found myself hearing his voice when I was thinking about Paddington. He breathes and he speaks and he sounds like Paddington.”
A peculiar choice perhaps, considering that the actor has candidly admitted to having “no relationship to Paddington whatsoever”. Whishaw is predominantly known for his adaptive acting skills. It will be thrilling to see how he voices children’s favourite marmalade-loving bear.
Whishaw certainly has big boots to fill in his depiction, but as a skilled and specialised actor there’s no reason why he can’t achieve an outstanding vocal portrayal. If not, the superstar runs the risk of shattering millions of childhood illusions.
Whishaw has begun the recording sessions to match his voice to the computer-generated Peruvian bear’s character. The film is due to be released in the UK on 28th November. Nicole Kidman, Peter Capaldi, Julie Walters, Sally Hawkins and Jim Broadbent are among the film’s high-profile cast.
The character of Paddington Bear made his first literary appearance in 1958 and has been featured in more than twenty books written by Michael Bond. It was first illustrated by Peggy Fortnum and has been a childhood marvel to generations of kids.