Published Date: 11/11/2017
We had the pleasure of sitting down with Hugh Bonneville recently to talk to him about his experiences of filming Paddington 2…
I have to say that I was a little hesitant when I heard that they were turning 'my books' into a feature film. I of course refer to them as my books because for me like many, the Paddington Bear books were the books of my youth, they were such a huge part of my childhood. They were the first stories that were read for me and then the first stories I read to myself, and I have in turn read them to my son.
But hey, I am an actor and of course I was intrigued to meet with the director / writer Paul King and producer David Heyman to hear their ideas. Within minutes of meeting with Paul I instantly knew that he was in fact Paddington Bear and of course if you are going to entrust a beloved children's book to a film producer, then who better then David Heyman?
When I read the script I literally fell in love with the story, the wonderfully written characters and fell about laughing and also shed a few tears. And then of course I began to see the incredible work of Framestore, the digital effects geniuses. They literally brought Paddington to life, with their astonishing work. Those beautiful doe eyes just draw you in. It is just amazing what they achieved. And of course alongside their work you have the amazing vocal talents of Ben Whishaw and you have this complete package.
For us all to return again for Paddington 2 has just been a thrill. We see poor Paddington in jail and it is up to the Brown family to clear his name. We also have some great new characters in particular I know audiences are going to love the performances by Brendon Gleason and Hugh Grant. Big statement I know but whisper it quietly I think the sequel is even better than the first film, it is so funny and emotional. It's such a simple, honest and delightful script and Framestore have impressed me even more with their work. Thank you so much for your response Showcase, the early previews have been so well received so we are very hopeful of another successful outing for Paddington.
As you say I have been a part of the process from the beginning and introduced various screenings and clips to you and dare I say it that it is not always the case that your work resonates in this way but Paddington is something I am immensely proud of and if I have an opportunity to help out in any way I will. Yes, they are astonishing films but also the message they carry of caring and being polite to one’s neighbours is so important in these dark days of so much turmoil we find ourselves in. As Paddington says, "In London everyone is different, so everyone can fit in."
The Paddington stories can, I believe, help in some small way. And another wonderful message we receive back is that the success of the film has seen young people wanting to read the books, which can only be a good thing.
One of the many magical things Paddington has brought to my life is getting to know the author Michael Bond and his family. An absolutely delightful man. My wife and I would often pop round to visit Michael and Sue his lovely wife for a cup of tea. My wife and Sue have a shared love of guinea pigs and I remember on one occasion the two of them were on the floor trying to put together a cardboard castle for the Bond's guinea pigs. It was a disaster but it did allow for Michael and I to enjoy a glass of champagne while they struggled. Michael being the wonderfully spirited character he was raised his glass to me with a twinkle in his eye.
He was such a lovely man and he passed away on the final days filming of Paddington 2. So sad but he told me that he knew his bear was in the good hands, so that was wonderful to know. His daughter is very much part of our family and is keeping the spirit of Paddington alive.
Paddington 2 opens on November 10 – book your tickets here.