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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.”
PHOTOS The Scene at Cannes 2014
Paul King directed Paddington from his adapted script. The project also stars Nicole Kidman, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent and Peter Capaldi.
While it’s unusual for a voice actor to drop out so late into post-production, it’s not unheard of. Scarlett Johansson replaced Samantha Morton as the voice of the intelligent operating system in Spike Jonze’s Her. Ty Burrell replaced Robert Downey Jr. in DreamWorks Animation’s Mr. Peabody & Sherman, and Al Pacino exited Despicable Me 2 to be replaced by Benjamin Bratt.
The first trailers for the film, which was produced by StudioCanal, did not feature Paddington actually speaking, just growling as he tried to navigate the difficult luxuries of living in a new home.
Firth, repped by CAA and Independent Talent Group in the U.K., has several projects in post-production including Kingsman: The Secret Service, Magic in the Moonlight and Before I Go to Sleep.
Entertainment Weekly for reported the news.
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Sir Anthony Hopkins