Ben Whishaw Replaces Colin Firth as Voice of 'Paddington'

Colin Firth Paddington the Bear Split - H 2014
Andy Kropa/Invision/AP; StudioCanal

Colin Firth Paddington the Bear Split - H 2014

The "James Bond" star takes over from the Oscar winner as the voice of Paddington Bear in StudioCanal's upcoming live-action/CGI feature.

LONDON – British actor and James Bond star Ben Whishaw has been cast as the voice of Paddington Bear in the upcoming CGI/live-action feature Paddington, replacing Oscar-winner Colin Firth.

“Delighted to announce that Ben Whishaw will be the voice of Paddington,” producer StudioCanal said in a tweet sent on Friday.

Speaking to U.K. tabloid newspaper The Daily Mail, Whishaw revealed that he was not initially eager to audition for the role. ??“I resisted a little bit, because I had a bad experience doing this kind of work in the past and I thought I was no good at it. But I was persuaded to go, slightly grudgingly,” the 33-year old said, adding that growing up, he had had no relationship with the beloved children’s character created by English author Michael Bond.

The film’s producer David Heyman said that Paddington needed a “slightly more open, and younger, voice” than Firth, who pulled out of the voice role last month, and that when listening to Whishaw audition he “slowly found myself hearing his voice when I was thinking about Paddington.”

Whishaw joins a stellar cast including Nicole Kidman, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent and Peter Capaldi, working from an adapted script written by the film’s director Paul King.

Despite the change in lead voice, Paddington’s slated Christmas Day release date in the U.S. by The Weinstein Co. and Dimension Films remains unchanged.

Whishaw, who is set to appear as Q in the 24th installment of the James Bond franchise due for release next year, was in December revealed to be playing Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury in an upcoming biopic, replacing Sacha Baron Cohen.