Paddington Bear seemed like a done deal. It already has a full trailer and even inspired a meme. It opens in just six months. And at a time when a studio is usually worrying about marketing, Weinstein Company and Dimension now have to recast their main character, as Colin Firth has abruptly dropped out as the voice of Paddington. I guess that’s just their cross to bear. Ouch, stop hitting me.
The film, based on Michael Bond’s beloved children’s book about the misadventures of a Peruvian bear, is still slated for release on Christmas Day in the U.S. by The Weinstein Co. and Dimension Films. The release date will not be affected, and the search is on for a replacement.
“It’s been bittersweet to see this delightful creature take shape and come to the sad realization that he simply doesn’t have my voice,” the actor said in a statement. “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.” [THR]
Voicing a cartoon is usually the easiest money an actor can make. You show up, do all your lines in one day and collect a paycheck. Hell, he could do it via Skype. Which makes it much harder to blame “scheduling” like they usually do when someone gets re-cast. I’d take Colin Firth at his word, that this really was an artistic decision, because Colin Firth seems like such a sweet, earnest slab of beef wellington. But I have a hard time believing anyone has that much respect or that specific of expectations about Paddington Effing Bear. There must be a story here, but as of yet we don’t know what it is.
. Perhaps Colin Firth developed a stammer and lost confidence in his own speech. And only through the tireless work of a mentor, whose methods seem rather unorthodox at first, but eventually proved himself dedicated to his pupil; and the unwavering support of a strong woman – a Helena Bonham Carter type, say – can Colin Firth get his speech back. I mean talk about redemption. Heck, someone should make a movie about that.