Last weekend, Paddington‘s writer-director Paul King, producer David Heyman, and cast members Hugh Bonneville, Madeleine Harris and Samuel Joslin gathered in London for a question and answer session following a screening of the film. Here is what they had to say…
On bringing Paddington to the big screen…
David Heyman: My mother gave me a Paddington Bear when I was around five years old, and this was the beginning of the journey. Rosie in my office around eleven years ago said “why don’t we do Paddington?”. I mentioned it to my mum, who is a hoarder, and she brought out that Paddington Bear. Then I met Paul King, who cam along to write and direct Paddington. When you find the right person, the film all of a sudden takes shape. And Paul was the right person. He is Paddington Bear! My son was born six years ago, and then comes the urgency to get things going. It’s not often that you get to make the film that your young child can go and see.
Paul King: I was very keen to get it right. I met David and we had the same sort of ideas about the character. Part of you does sort of fear the idea of doing a Paddington film because I loved the Ivor Wood [illustrations] so much. We thought there was a proper, movie-sized story to be told about Paddington.
On the appeal of Paddington…
Hugh Bonneville: It was sort of like, “you had me at Paddington” really! Like millions of people, I grew up with this beloved bear as part of my childhood. I was concerned when the script arrived, but when I read it, I was in. I was surprised at how moving the script is.
Madeleine Harris: I knew of Paddington before the auditions, but as I went through the auditions, and when I got the job I learnt so much about him, so much about the story of him.
On the technical achievements in the film…
David Heyman: The ability to put a bear, to have a central digitial character, was just not possible [many years ago]. Technology really has moved on. Fur, for example, you just couldn’t do it. And now we can.
Hugh Bonneville: I think it is astonishing; the work of Framestore and all the other effects teams that worked on the film. It shows the level to which animation and digital effects animation has got to. I am so convinced that bear is real, and that we worked with him!
On casting the film…
Paul King: We asked, and Nicole Kidman’s agent said that it’s definitely not going to happen, but they would send her the script. And she said “Paddington Bear? I love Paddington Bear!”. She read the script overnight, and the following morning, she got on the phone saying she would love to do it. She was the easiest person to cast.
David Heyman: Much easier than Bonneville!
Paul King: Ben Whishaw wasn’t our first choice for the voice of Paddington. We started with Colin Firth, and we worked with Colin for a while and we recorded him for a piece of the film. And you heard the voice, and you didn’t believe that it was coming out of this small creature. We sat down and we all felt it wasn’t working.
David Heyman: To give Colin his credit, he sensed it before even we did.
Paul King: It all worked out brilliantly. I think Ben is wonderful; he’s got a lighter, younger, slightly sort of ‘other’ voice. We’re thrilled with the results.
Paddington is out in UK cinemas on 28th November 2014.