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If there was ever a movie you'd expect to run smoothly from production to release, it'd be a children's movie. With a family friendly release date locked in, and a stereotypically prestigious cast easily making money on creating the cinematic equivalent of a bedtime story, Paddington isn't the type of film we'd expect to even make the front page of Cinema Blend past the first trailer. Unfortunately that wasn't the case when Colin Firth left the film this summer. Fortunately, the producers have found a more than fitting substitute.
The Daily Mail spoke with producer David Heyman who confirmed that Ben Whishaw (the new Q from Skyfall) will be taking over the vocal duties for Paddington, which is still on track for a November 28th release date in the UK. Heyman told The Daily Mail this when qualifying just how good of a pick the young actor was for the role:
He breathes and he speaks and he sounds like Paddington, rather than the most beautiful chocolate-voiced man [Firth] on the planet.
All of the chocolate in Colin Firth's voice couldn't outrun the fact that even the respected actor felt he was an ill fit for the role. David Heyman recalled how the star of The King's Speech didn't feel his diction was a particular fit for the role:
He was saying: "Are you sure I’m right?" He was way ahead of us. Colin was brilliant, but his voice was, ultimately, too mature.’
To a certain point, Ben Whishaw felt the same way, as he pushed back a little during Paddington's casting process. Soon enough though, he was won over and he signed onto the project – all thanks to his 18 month old niece, whom he's delighted will be able to see the film. While it's a little late in the game to be introducing a new player to the cast of any film with a Fall 2014 release date (particularly one where your lead needs to be animated to fit the vocals behind it,) the casting change up is one that looks to have benefitted the film.
Colin Firth, while having an awesome voice I was dying to hear bring to life a childhood favorite of mine, isn't exactly a Paddington. He would have been better suited playing the role Hugh Bonneville is filling in the film, as he's at that point in his career where he can play the dad. Ben Whishaw's casting brings the youth that those in charge of production need and those who are actual fans of previous incarnations know and love. It still sucked to see Mr. Firth leave, but at least he and those in charge were amiable about it and no harm was done to the production.
Paddington arrives in London on November 28th, and we'll get to see him make his journey on Christmas Day in the US.