Tuesday 26th December 2017
Following the worldwide hit Paddington, the most successful non-US studio family film of all time, the much-anticipated sequel finds Paddington happily settled with the Brown family in London, where he has become a popular member of the local community, spreading joy and marmalade wherever he goes. While searching for the perfect present for his beloved Aunt Lucy's hundredth birthday, Paddington sees a unique pop-up book in Mr. Gruber's shop, and embarks upon a series of odd jobs to buy it. But when the book is stolen, it's up to Paddington and the Browns to unmask the thief, who appears to be a master of disguise...
A Heyday Films and StudioCanal production, Paddington's return to the big screen is helmed by BAFTA nominated director Paul King (Paddington, Come Fly With Me, The Mighty Boosh) written by Paul King and Simon Farnaby (Yonderland and Mindhorn) and produced by multi award-winning David Heyman (producer of all eight of the Harry Potter Films, Gravity, The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them).
Hugh Grant and Brendan Gleeson joins the all-star returning cast of Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi, Madeleine Harris and Samuel Joslin, Ben Whishaw as the beloved voice of Paddington and Imelda Staunton as Aunt Lucy.
Paddington 2 tells the continuing story of Paddington (Ben Whishaw), a young Peruvian bear who comes to London in search of a home and a family. Having found that home with the Brown family in Windsor Gardens, life is set fair for Paddington. While searching for the perfect present for his beloved Aunt Lucy's (Imelda Staunton) forthcoming 100th birthday, Paddington spots a unique pop-up book in Mr. Gruber's (Jim Broadbent) antique shop, and embarks upon a series of odd jobs to buy it. But the book has also caught the eye of local celebrity, the actor Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant), whose designs on the book are less than altruistic...
Paddington 2 is the sequel to the hugely successful 2014 movie Paddington, which was based on the best-selling and internationally adored books by British author, the late, great Michael Bond. A Heyday Films and StudioCanal production, Paddington 2 is directed by the BAFTA-nominated Paul King (Paddington, Bunny And The Bull) cowriting the screenplay with Simon Farnaby (Yonderland, Mindhorn). Also returning to produce the film is the multiple award-winning David Heyman (Gravity, The Harry Potter Series), and executive producers, Heyday's Rosie Alison (Testament Of Youth, Light Between Oceans), Alexandra Ferguson-Derbyshire (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Anna Karenina), and Heyday's Jeffrey Clifford (Light Between Oceans).
The cast of Paddington 2 is led by Ben Whishaw (SPECTRE, Bright Star) as the voice of Paddington, Hugh Bonneville (TV's Downtown Abbey, W1A, The Monuments Men) as Mr. Brown, and Sally Hawkins (The Shape Of Water, Happy Go Lucky) as Mrs. Brown.
Also returning are Jim Broadbent (the Harry Potter series, The Bridget Jones series, Moulin Rouge) as Mr. Gruber, owner of the antique shop where Paddington finds the pop-up book, Julie Walters (Billy Elliot, the Harry Potter series) as the Browns' eccentric housekeeper, Mrs. Bird, Peter Capaldi (Doctor Who, In The Loop) as the Browns' snooping, suspicious neighbour, Mr. Curry, and Madeleine Harris and Samuel Joslin as the Browns' children, Judy and Jonathan. Returning with their voices alongside Ben are Imelda Staunton (Pride, Harry Potter) as Aunt Lucy and Michael Gambon (Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Harry Potter) as Uncle Pastuzo.
Joining the series for this second instalment are the likes of Hugh Grant (Four Weddings And A Funeral, Bridget Jones's Diary and Florence Foster Jenkins) as the villainous actor Phoenix Buchanan, and Brendan Gleeson (In Bruges, the Harry Potter series and Calvary) as imposing prison cook Knuckles McGinty.
Creative talent returning behind the camera includes director of photography Erik Wilson (Tyrannosaur, Submarine), production designer Gary Williamson (Bunny And The Bull, Submarine), Oscar-winning costume designer Lindy Hemming (Wonder Woman, The Dark Knight), editor Mark Everson (Mindhorn, Alan Partridge) - joined by Jonathan Amos (Baby Driver, United Kingdom) - and the highly-acclaimed British visual effects company, Framestore, led by Animation Director Pablo Grillo (Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them) and VFX supervisors Andy Kind (Gravity, Guardians Of The Galaxy) and Glen Pratt (Beauty and the Beast). Paddington 2's score is composed by the Academy Award®-winning Dario Marianelli (Everest, Anna Karenina). The film was shot on location in and around central London, as well as on the iconic soundstages of Leavesden and Pinewood film studios.
StudioCanal financed the film and will distribute Paddington 2 in the UK, France, Germany, Australia & New Zealand, and has sold the film worldwide.
Paddington Bear was first introduced to children in Michael Bond's 1958 book, A Bear Called Paddington. Paddington's Finest Hour, the last book written by Bond, who passed away in June of this year at the age of 91, was released in January 2017. In between those landmarks, Bond wrote over twenty books featuring the duffel coat-wearing, marmalade sandwich-loving bear, which have together sold over 35 million copies worldwide, and have been translated into 40 languages. The antics of the little bear from Darkest Peru, whose perfect manners and good intentions frequently lead to comical mishaps and moments of high chaos, have captured hearts the world over, and the stories are now internationally recognised as modern children's classics.
Likewise, the character's cinematic debut. It took quite a while for Paddington to make his bow on the big screen, following several incarnations on the small, including a hugely successful and beloved 56-episode British television series which began in 1975, designed and directed by Ivor Wood for FilmFair with the distinctive narration of Michael Hordern. But when he did, it was to universal praise. Paddington was released in 2014 and has already been acclaimed as a perennial children's classic, with its wonderful blend of warmth, whimsy and wit enchanting viewers of all ages. It was nominated for several BAFTAs, won Best Comedy at the 2015 Empire Awards, and grossed over $250 million worldwide. Success that surprised even those who worked on the first movie, becoming the highest grossing non-US studio family film ever.
"I thought the first movie had a lovely script and was terrific to work on," says Hugh Bonneville. "But I was well aware that there was a lot of suspicion or nerves about taking this beloved bear and putting him on the big screen. Would it be in the right spirit? I was completely stunned when I saw the movie. I genuinely forgot the bear wasn't real, and I'm in the damn thing! I'm very proud of having been part of the first one."
Paul King fashioned a movie that was, by turns, hilarious and heart-warming, with frequent bursts of magical realism that combined to make a bear in London feel the most natural thing in the world.
When Paddington 2 was confirmed, following the success of the original, Heyman knew that he wanted one person, and one person only, to direct. "Paul is so warm and generous and funny and uncynical" says David Heyman". You can feel that in the fabric of the first film and in this one too. He's a really unique voice, an extraordinary and exceptional talent - so naturally we wanted him to return" With King keen to continue telling Paddington's tale, now all that was needed was the story.
At the end of Paddington, the eponymous bear seemed pretty content with his lot in life, firmly ensconced in the attic room of the Browns' house, and indulging in a snowball fight with his new family in Windsor Gardens. It's a grand place to end. It's not such a grand place to begin, as King discovered. "We accidentally wrote an ending, rather than saying, 'see you in chapter 2!'" laughs the director.
However, he wasn't quite starting from scratch. "We had a lot of ideas that never made their way into the first film because they always felt like they belonged in a sequel, rather than an origin story. It always felt like it would be fun to see Paddington at work," says King, "and he's such a decent character that it felt it could be emotionally satisfying to see him fall prey to an injustice. "The great inspiration for this film is Mr. Smith Goes To Washington," says David Heyman, of the great Frank Capra/James Stewart movie about an idealistic young man in Washington. King also went back to the school of Pixar, in particular Toy Story 2, to see how the American animation giant had approached a sequel. One thing King did not want to do was repeat the challenges and obstacles that faced Paddington in the first movie. "Pixar did very well in retaining the sincerity of the first film. They found a truthful situation for Woody and explored from there."
To help him find the truth, and the story, of Paddington 2, King enlisted the services of an old friend and collaborator. Simon Farnaby has worked with King for over a decade, on what Farnaby calls "Battersea Arts Centre one-man shows" as well as BUNNY AND THE BULL, in which Farnaby starred. A writer in his own, well, right, Farnaby had provided some assistance on the screenplay of PADDINGTON, and also popped up in a memorable cameo as Barry, a sleazy security guard who falls inexplicably in love with Mr. Brown... while Mr. Brown is disguised as a Welsh cleaning lady. So bringing Farnaby on board fulltime was a natural progression for King. "I had a lot of help from a lot of brilliant people at various times while I wrote the first screenplay, and I thought it would be wise to have someone with me from the start this time," says King. "Simon and I have a formidable track record of commercial disaster and the hope was that we could bring that expertise to bear on Paddington 2."
The collaboration was an instant success. "We got a lot of things quite quickly," admits King. Indeed, by the end of the first week, they had the basic story in place. Paddington 2 would see the enthusiastic young bear devote himself to buying a present for his Aunt Lucy's 100th birthday and, in the ensuing chaos, wind up in prison, framed for a crime he didn't commit. Yes, Paddington 2 sees the beloved bear sent to the big house. But, as with all the plot developments across both movies, it was important to King that it emerged organically from the characters, and from the themes that King wanted to explore.
The first movie was about the importance of tolerance and acceptance, as a young immigrant bear came to London and found that, despite his obvious differences, he could blend right into a society that accepted him for who he was. While those themes also run through Paddington 2, King also wanted to examine new facets of Paddington's character. "It's about recognising the value of kindness and compassion," he says. "Paddington goes from thinking he's just a small bear in a big world to realising that his many acts of kindness are tremendously worthwhile contributions to the community."
Exploring this idea led to King and Farnaby introducing Paddington, and the audience, to a series of new characters in the wider community of Windsor Gardens. "It's about seeing the good in places where others might not," says David Heyman. "And sometimes, as in the case of Mrs. Bird and Mrs. Brown, seeing the bad where others have only been charmed. That's a good message, in a world where we're all a little too willing to judge a book by its cover."
Ultimately, the story leads us and Paddington to prison, where he initially butts heads with the imposing cook, Knuckles McGinty, before winning him over with a typical example of Paddingtonian generosity. "One of the things I did both times was watch all of Chaplin films," explains the ever-meticulous King. "There's a such a pleasure in seeing your clown in what most people would find a really miserable situation. And prison felt like a good way of giving Paddington a challenge to get back home to Windsor Gardens, and he can meet other characters and change them along the way."
While even the hard-bitten Knuckles McGinty succumbs to Paddington's marmaladey charms, there's one character in the film who remains inured to the ursine. Enter the villain of the piece, Phoenix Buchanan.
In the first movie, Nicole Kidman was superb as the ice-cold Millicent Clyde, who wanted to catch Paddington, kill him, stuff him and turn him into a permanent exhibit at the Natural History Museum in London. "Nicole was so wonderfully funny and menacing, and one frustration in the writing was that her story ran separately from Paddington's for the first hour of the film - so it was only in the final act that she spent any screen time with the bear. This time around we decided it would be fun to play with a snake in the grass, a member of the community that Paddington encounters early on, and irritates intensely."
King and Farnaby went through several ideas of who that villain could be, before they settled upon an idea that King had briefly explored for the first film: an actor. "Actors are, famously, the most evil people on the planet," says King, wryly quoting one of Mrs Bird's lines in the film. "It felt that you could do something quite funny with someone who's very full of himself and quite good at projecting this image of himself as a good guy, but who's deep down someone who only thinks of himself."
And so Phoenix Buchanan, a former West End star who can now be found opening local fairs and starring in dog food commercials, was born. Phoenix after the legendary bird, rising from the ashes - rather adroitly summing up the state of Buchanan's career when we meet him in Paddington 2. The Buchanan part comes from the notion that "he claims to be Scottish," says Farnaby. "We have a portrait of him in the film standing in a glen, one foot on a rock, wearing a kilt."
He wasn't always Phoenix Buchanan, though. At one point he was Phoenix Barr, named after the famous London actors' hangout where Farnaby actually met his wife. Before that, he was given a rather fancy name that, sadly, turned out to be already owned by an actual actor. And before that, he was simply known as Hugh. Because King knew exactly who he wanted to be Paddington's new nemesis. "I wrote Hugh a letter saying, 'we've written this part of a vain, washed up old has-been with you in mind' and luckily he took it with great humour," says King. "He's such a great comic actor, with such a splendid sense of the absurdity of his profession, and it's very pleasing to see him sending the whole thing up."
Grant had not seen Paddington when he was offered the role, but quickly downloaded it, and "admired it immensely. It's quite a difficult thing to make children's films without going sentimental or yucky, and it was a very clever trick that Paul King brought off."
Intrigued by the notion of playing Phoenix, whom King describes as "a rotter", Grant signed on and threw himself into the role. "I spent a lot of the early part of my career in the 1980s doing plays with memorable theatrical types," he explains. "I pillaged them all for this character, for the almost unendurable, overweening vanity of the man. He can't see beyond his own beauty and talent, and that makes him do things that I'm sure he's ashamed of."
Paddington and Phoenix clash because of an item of mutual interest: the pop-up book that Paddington wants to buy Aunt Lucy for her one hundredth birthday. For Paddington, it's simply a pop-up book, something he wants to pay for with his own hard-earned cash by doing a series of odd jobs around the community, and that will bring Aunt Lucy the joy of the city she loves - but has never been able to visit.
For Phoenix, it's the key to his ultimate ambition: a one-man show, An Evening Of Monologue And Song with Phoenix Buchanan. "It seems like the worst possible evening," laughs King. Grant concurs. "I'm not sure that would be my favourite evening out," he deadpans.
The book is crucial to Phoenix's plans because only he knows that it contains the key - literally and metaphorically - to a great fortune, hidden by Madame Kozlova, the greatgrandmother of a Russian circus owner whose huge travelling fair comes to London at the beginning of the story, and provides the platform for Paddington and Phoenix to meet. Determined to get his hands on the book, Phoenix steals it from Mr. Gruber's shop and pins the blame on Paddington, sending him to prison. "His logic would be that the world would be so grateful for his one-man show," explains Grant, "that almost anything would be worth it to raise the finance for it."
And so Paddington 2's villain is a preening, vainglorious nightmare of a man, but one who's not necessarily "hellbent on killing Paddington," according to King. "We thought a good antagonist for Paddington, who is so selfless and kind and well-mannered, would be someone who is completely self-centred."
Phoenix's house in Windsor Gardens also plays a prominent role in the film, particularly in a scene where Mr. and Mrs. Brown, the latter of whom is particularly suspicious about Phoenix's role in Paddington's imprisonment, break in and have a good old snoop around. What they find is initially discomforting: a house liberally festooned with pictures of Phoenix throughout his career. "We needed a hundred pictures of Hugh," recalls King. "He said, 'I've got a few', and he came in the next day with various portraits and charcoal sketches of himself that had been given to him by fans. Nobody has ever sent me a charcoal sketch of myself reclining on a couch semi-naked. But then I'm not an international sex symbol!"
And then they make a discovery that borders on the terrifying, and prompts the evergracious Mr. Brown to exclaim, "the man's a weirdo!": Phoenix's secret attic room, where he keeps all of his previous costumes. For Phoenix is a master of disguise, able to change his appearance, manner, and accent almost at will; all the better to assist him in first the theft of the pop-up book from Mr. Gruber's shop, and then his search for Madame Kozlova's treasure. Which means that Paddington 2 sees Hugh Grant assume a number of different guises, including a knight in armour, a nun, and a balding man with giant mutton chops. "When I heard the villain was a master of disguise, I thought, 'this is going to be fun'," says Christine Blundell, the film's Academy Award® winning head of make-up and hair. "And Hugh was such a good sport."
Working closely with another Academy Award® winner - the returning costume designer, Lindy Hemming - Blundell came up with a number of different looks for Phoenix, casting Grant's head in plaster in order to showcase them to the actor, who wholeheartedly threw himself into the process. "At the initial meeting with Hugh, he said, 'I don't want anything stuck on,'" laughs Blundell. "After a while, he was like, 'come on, guys, bring it on!'" In fact, it was Grant who suggested wearing a bald cap for the sequence where the dastardly Buchanan attempts to make a quick getaway. "He said, 'can I maybe do something with longer hair and mutton chops?' And as I put that together on the cast of his face, so he could look at it objectively, he said, 'it looks quite good bald, doesn't it?'"
This improvisational approach to Phoenix's wardrobe certainly kept Hemming on her toes. "I think it's the most amount of different and varied costumes I've ever had to do for anybody," she says. Quite a statement from someone who has worked on various James Bond and Batman movies. "I've been doing this for forty-something years and I've never had to have so many costume fittings. Phoenix has something like eleven or twelve utterly different looks, which bear no relation to one another. But Hugh's been a total collaborator, really brilliant."
With Paddington and Phoenix's storylines set in stone, King and Farnaby turned their attention to ensuring that the rest of Paddington 2's extended cast of characters would be equally well-serviced. Leading the way, as Mr. Brown - Henry to his friends - is another Hugh. Bonneville, that is. The first film saw Mr. Brown grow from an overly cautious soul, unwilling to trust Paddington, to a more carefree spirit. King was careful not to repeat that arc this time around, so instead Mr. Brown is having a midlife crisis. "He's been passed over recently for a promotion," explains Bonneville. "He starts dyeing his hair, and takes up an extreme form of yoga. But he's not very good at it. Men of a certain age, or in a similar situation to Mr. Brown, might sympathise with him. They might feel they peaked in the middle, and is that all that's left? But by the end, he realises that life is pretty good. Especially when there's a bear in town."
In one key development, the risk analyst Mr. Brown forms a "man crush" on Phoenix Buchanan, who is one of his finest customers. "Mr. Brown thinks Phoenix Buchanan is the bees' knees. He's a Platinum Club member, and even though Phoenix is very pleased with himself and deeply patronising to anyone in the community, Mr. Brown is very happy. The fall from grace is quite profound when the scales fall from Mr. Brown's eyes."
Also returning to the film is Sally Hawkins as Mrs. Brown - Mary to her friends - who sees through Buchanan's nefarious cover almost instantly, and sets about trying to prove to the wider community of Windsor Gardens that he's a liar and a charlatan. For Hawkins, returning to the fold was a delight. "They are this great team and work incredibly well together," she says of the Browns. "I think that's what is so brilliant about them. When there's a crisis, and I think this can be said about many people, you can find this incredible spirit, and do anything. When there's somebody that you love that is in danger, there's no end to what you can do. I think that's what this film, in its essence, is about."
Peter Capaldi also returns as nosey neighbour Mr. Curry. Last time around, he had dedicated himself to ridding Windsor Gardens of its furry newcomer, and fell head over heels in love with Nicole Kidman's Millicent Clyde. Now, "he's the self-declared head of the Community Defence Force," says Farnaby, which allows Curry to foment the fog of discontent towards Paddington.
There are newcomers to the cast of Windsor Gardens residents as well. As Paddington raises money to pay for the pop-up book by carrying out a series of odd jobs around Windsor Gardens, we meet the likes of Sanjeev Bhaskar as a forgetful neighbour, Ben Miller as a curmudgeonly colonel, and Jessica Hynes as a lonely newspaper vendor, whose only friend is a parrot. When Paddington goes to prison, he meets other new additions, including Noah Taylor as Phibs, Aaron Neil as Spoon, comedian Tom Davis as T-Bone and Jamie Demetriou as The Professor.
And then there's Knuckles McGinty, the irascible chef who runs the prison with an iron fist. Until Paddington intrudes on his patch. To play this character, described by David Heyman as "Santa Claus with a tougher veneer", King turned to the brilliant Irish actor, Brendan Gleeson. "I got a great kick out of the first film," says Gleeson. "He's a lot of fun, is Knuckles. He's one of those hearts of gold locked away in a mad exterior."
Knuckles, who plays an instrumental role in Paddington's departure from prison and transition back into the real world, is the embodiment of the film's central theme: don't judge a book by its cover. "Or its chef's hat!" laughs Gleeson. "Brendan was amazing," says King. "He kept it all so real in the middle of this heightened visual comedy. He was putting in nuance I'd like to pretend we thought of, but a lot of it came from him. He brought Knuckles such warmth and depth, really interrogated the character and made it so much better than we ever imagined."
Most sequels follow one template: they're bigger than their predecessors, in almost all aspects of the production. To an extent, that's true of Paddington 2, but David Heyman insists it wasn't the overall goal. "I think this is slightly bigger," he says. "But it wasn't about having more action, it was about capturing the spirit of Paddington; his generosity, kindness, optimism & decency. That's what was important to us."
King, as a student of sequels, knows all too well the pitfalls and perils that awaited him as he crafted this follow-up. "Some work brilliantly and with others you feel that inflationary process that can spoil what's special about it." Bigger doesn't always equate to better. But when it's done right, it can be. So, emboldened by the success of the first film and armed with a slightly bigger budget, King did want to give Paddington 2 a larger scope. Not that the little bear would be weaving through explosions or suddenly be voiced by The Rock ("That's Paddington 7, probably," laughs King). But King's increased confidence can be detected in a number of key moments in the film, from the prison sequences to the scale of the fairground set that was built in the grounds of Knebworth House. And then there's the train chase. Yes, the train chase.
Without giving too much away, the denouement of Paddington 2 involves Phoenix Buchanan, a desperate getaway, a determined bear, the resolute Browns and Mrs. Bird, and not one but two steam trains locked in a spectacular chase. And much of it was done for real, with the production team, led by production designer Gary Williamson, building train tracks in Leavesden studios, along which they could move actual trains . "Paul wanted this great chase sequence," says Williamson. "And we had to work out how to shoot it. That was great fun. My job with Paul is he wants me to design something better than he can think it."
Orson Welles famously called a film set "the best train set a boy could ever have". And here King found that was literally true. "We had a full-size train on set every day. They put down rail for it, and brought in the Belmond British Pullman train on a truck. It was on a remote control, and it was extraordinary." And all in a day's work for the movie's producer, David Heyman. "In David's universe we're such comparatively small potatoes," laughs King. "I will often go, 'look at this set, it's amazing!' and then remember it's about the size of Harry Potter's bathroom."
Another key sequence that King was determined to pull off had actually been considered for the first film, but ultimately jettisoned for budgetary and scheduling reasons. It involves Paddington imagining a sequence where he opens a pop-up book and then finds himself inside its three-dimensional pages, taking Aunt Lucy on a tour of London's greatest landmarks. Initially, it had been earmarked to open the first film. "It was very expensive and tricky to execute," admits King. "And ended up not earning its place. But this time I made sure the pop-up book sequence was so deeply embedded in the fabric of the movie that I couldn't cut it!" And much to Gary Williamson's delight. "The pop-up book itself is amazing. We had to work that out early as it's integral to the story, and Framestore needed to know what it looked like, and which landmarks of London Paddington goes to," he explains. "We had to get someone to make a pop-up book that actually worked and looked like the characters in our film had made it in Russia in the 1930s. But it's a triumph. If the film got destroyed tomorrow and I had the pop-up book, I'd be happy!"
The tour of the pop-up book presented Framestore, which already brings Paddington to life, with one of its greatest challenges. "Working with Paul, he will say, 'here's the idea, how do we do that?'" says Glen Pratt, the film's Visual Effects Supervisor. "I enjoy that. It's part of the reason why I do this job."
Pratt worked closely with Dale Newton, animation supervisor for Framestore (overseeing the creation of the digital pop-up book), Gary Williamson and the film's returning director of photography, Erik Wilson (Tyrannosaur, Submarine), to tackle the pop-up book animation in a way that retained the integrity of the original design. "It has such a handcrafted quality," explains Pratt. "You've got the painterly quality of the illustrations and added to that is a flat yet sculptural aspect as we go through the narrative. It's really unique. There's an art to that, using visual effects in a really smart way."
The pop-up book is also a clever way of reintroducing a major character to the world of Paddington: London. England's capital city played an integral part in the first movie, with locations ranging from Portobello Road to the Natural History Museum, while D'Lime's version of the old standard, 'London Is The Place For Me', provided the film with real character and flavour. For the filmmakers, London was still very much the place for them on Paddington 2. "It's still a love letter to London in many ways," says Hugh Bonneville. "Even more explicitly so, because the plot takes us to many of these great landmarks." Indeed - as Phoenix Buchanan ticks off the pop-up book clues that will ultimately lead him to the location of Madame Kozlova's treasure, we embark on a whirlwind tour of London, with sequences set in Tower Bridge, St. Paul's Cathedral, and the Serpentine in Hyde Park. Meanwhile, returning locations include Chalcot Crescent, which plays Windsor Gardens, and Portobello Road, where Mr. Gruber's antiques shop is located. And you couldn't have a Paddington bear movie without the station that shares his name making an appearance. "We could have gone to another station," laughs Gary Williamson of the brief cameo from Paddington Station. "But it wouldn't have worked, really."
As the pop-up book itself illustrates, it's not always about being big. Part of the great tradition of Paddington is that the little bear gets into scrapes that rapidly spiral out of control. Take the bathroom scene in the first movie, for example, where Paddington's earnest attempts to brush his teeth ended up with him careening down the stairs of the Brown house on a runaway bathtub. Paddington 2 features several sequences like that, but crafting them isn't always easy. "Everything has to be organic," says Farnaby. "They're always the hardest thing. They look the easiest, but everything has to happen for a reason." Two such sequences in Paddington 2 see Paddington run into ladder problems when out doing a spot of window cleaning to raise money, and then give someone a disastrous haircut when he's mistaken for a barber. To come up with sequences, King breaks them down into various stages, and enlist the services of Javier Marzan, a physical performer who will come in and act out some of the moves in the sequences. This also helps Framestore when they have to animate Paddington later. "We had a lot of fun bashing the sequences out," says Farnaby. "The barbershop sequence was one of the hardest we had to do."
And then, for many months after the physical shoot was over, the animation director Pablo Grillo and his team of animators at Framestore have been painstakingly bringing the bear to life.
The creation of the film's lead character evolves through many iterations, with Ben Whishaw recording the voice of the bear, and Grillo working daily with King to review minute calibrations of every expression and gesture. "When it came to Paddington's facial animation a lot was taken from Ben Whishaw himself. There's so much that can be conveyed by the face, every expression or small eyeline adjustment can give such a change to how a character feels," says Liam Russell, Lead Animator on the film and part of Grillo's team of experts at Framestore. "We used Ben 's reference a lot for this very thing. There's so much more to animating dialogue than just the voice, and being able to include Ben 's specific expressions into our animation really helped to bring Paddington to life."
With the first film under their hats to work from, Grillo and his team of course had a good grounding for animating Paddington and bringing his personality to the screen. "Having the first film for reference was great because it meant not only did we know what we were aiming for but we were able to learn and improve on what we had previously created," says Russell.
However with ambitions of building scale and new adventures for Paddington in this sequel, the team of course faced new challenges, not least with more physically demanding sequences. The action set piece at the end of the film was one such hurdle the team had to overcome. "This brought a lot of animation challenges to the table" says Russell, "we had to keep Paddington in character whilst he interacted with a moving train and the physics that came with it."
The physical movements of Paddington and his interaction with real-world objects certainly provide one of the bigger obstacles to overcome when animating the bear. "Whether walking between tables or sliding down a banister, he had to look realistic and correct in the real world, whilst maintaining his demeanour and having appeal on screen," says Russell. "Some of the more fun scenes often involved him doing a simple human action. The window cleaning sequence springs to mind here as we were able to explore a fun way in which Paddington could clean windows. This gave us the chance to not only create something original, but also have fun while doing it."
Grillo and his team at Framestore pour a lot of themselves into each scene in the film, with a lot of the physical performance coming from the animators themselves. "Many of the team would shoot reference for their shots to help understand the performance or specific actions required," says Russell. "Paddington being much smaller than a human meant we had to consider how he sees the world and the people around him from a different perspective from our own."
"Pablo is a genius, and such a key part of bringing Paddington to life," says Paul King of the Animation Director and key collaborator on the film. "The bear is such a realistic creation that it's easy to forget every footstep, each furrow in his brow, even his very breathing, is hand crafted by Pablo and his wonderful team of animators. It's an incredibly detailed, painstaking process and a labour of love. A huge amount of Paddington's soul comes from Pablo, and somehow it shines through in every frame of the film."
There is one other area of inspiration for King and Farnaby to draw from: Michael Bond and his books. Although Paddington 2 is not a direct adaptation of any of Bond's stories, they were always on hand. "We looked at the books," says King. "The scene in the barbers is very Michael Bond, and while he's window cleaning here and painting in the books, it's more or less the same. It's always a joy to read them again."
Bond's passing, in July at the age of 91, was met with a widespread outpouring of love and grief on social media. Much of it circled around a gif of Bond's cameo in the first movie, where he raises a glass of wine to Paddington as the wide-eyed bear swoops through London in the back of a taxi. At the time, it was a lovely touch, a nod from creator to his creation. Now, it seems even more incredibly poignant. "It's very sad," says King, who got to know Bond during the making of the first movie. "I think he got a lot of pleasure out of the first film, and it gave me a lot of pleasure that he liked it. He had more to give, which is an extraordinary thing to say of someone his age." In many ways, though, Bond and his legacy will continue to thrive, in the shape of his extraordinary creation: a big-hearted bear called Paddington.
Ben Whishaw (Paddington Bear). After graduating from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in Spring 2003, Ben went on to appear in Enduring Love, a film adaptation of Ian McEwan's novel directed by Roger Michel and Layer Cake, a feature directed by Matthew Vaughn. In 2003, he also starred in the popular comedy-drama The Booze Cruise for ITV. Ben subsequently made his West End debut at the National Theatre in their stage adaptation of Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials and starred as Hamlet in Trevor Nunn's electric 'youth' version of the play at the Old Vic, for which he has received tremendous critical acclaim and a Laurence Olivier nomination (2005).
It was during this run that Perfume producer Bernd Eichinger and director Tom Tykwer discovered Ben's extraordinary talent. Ben played the lead character Grenouille in the highly acclaimed Perfume which debuted in the UK in December 2006. Ben also shot a feature film called Stoned, in which he plays Keith Richards from the Rolling Stones, released in 2006. In the same year, Ben also completed filming I'm Not There, Todd Haynes film portrayal of Bob Dylan's life alongside the likes of Cate Blanchett, Richard Gere and Christian Bale. Ben plays the young, poetic Dylan which was seen on screens in the fall of 2007. Ben also appeared on television in "Nathan Barley" from director Chris Morris, for TalkBack Productions. Ben returned to the theatre for Katie Mitchell's version of The Seagull at the National Theatre in the Autumn of 2006, for which he again received great reviews.
Ben appeared in Brideshead Revisited which was released to critical acclaim in September 2008. The film featured Ben as Sebastian Flyte, a young, troubled aristocrat. The project was directed by Julian Jarrold and produced by Robert Bernstein. In 2008 Ben also starred in the hugely popular BBC drama "Criminal Justice" which saw him pick up the award for 'Best Actor' at the 2009 Royal Television Society Awards, 'Best Actor' at the International Emmy® Awards 2009 and was nominated for 'Best Actor' at the 2009 BAFTA® Television Awards. 2008 also saw Ben in The Idiot in which he played the lead at the National Theatre from the end of July.
2009 was another busy year for Ben, seeing him star as poet John Keats in Bright Star. The film focused on Keats' relationship with Fanny Brawne, played by Abbie Cornish. Ben then played the lead at The Royal Court Theatre in Mike Bartlett's play Cock - a story which takes a candid look at one man's sexuality and the difficulties that arise when you realise you have a choice. Ben then played Ariel opposite Helen Mirren and Russell Brand in The Tempest.
Ben went on to star as Freddie Lyon in The Hour for the BBC opposite Dominic West and Romola Garai. This was followed by the lead role alongside James Purefoy and Patrick Stewart in the BBCs adaptation of Shakespeare's "Richard II" which was released in Summer 2012 and earned him a TV BAFTA®. Ben replaced John Cleese as the new Q alongside Daniel Craig and Ralph Fiennes. The beginning of 2013 saw the release of CLOUD ATLAS in which Ben starred alongside an all-star cast including Tom Hanks, Jim Sturgess and Halle Berry. Ben appeared on stage starring alongside Judi Dench in Peter and Alice, which received rave reviews.
In 2014 Ben played the dark and tragic character of Baby in Jez Butterworth's Mojo in the West End and was the lead in the sensationally moving independent film Lilting. He also voiced the title role of Paddington Bear in the box office smash family movie, Paddington.
Premiering at the Venice Film Festival in 2015, Ben starred alongside Eddie Redmayne in the sensationally moving The Danish Girl. Autumn 2015 saw Ben playing alongside Meryl Steep, Helena Bonham Carter and Carey Mulligan in the eagerly anticipated Suffragette, as well as his return to the role of Q in the latest Bond film, SPECTRE, directed by Sam Mendes. He also appeared alongside Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz in the Sci-Fi thriller The Lobster, produced by the BFI film fund production company which premiered at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.
In November 2015 Ben also played the lead role in the BBC's new exciting spy drama - London Spy. He then starred as Herman Melville in Warner Brothers' The Heart Of The Sea. Ben finished on stage in the Bakkhai at the Almeida Theatre at the end of 2015 and moved straight to New York to appear in the Broadway version of Arthur Millers The Crucible, in early 2016.
Ben has recently returned to the Almeida Theatre to appear in Against, and is set to portray Julius Caesar at the National Theatre in 2018. Most recently Ben has reprised his role in Paddington 2 and will star in the much-anticipated sequel to Mary Poppins, titled Mary Poppins Returns in 2018. Ben will also be seen in A Very English Scandal which is currently in pre-production and set for release in late 2018/2019.
Hugh Bonneville (Henry Brown) was a member of the National Youth Theatre, studied Theology at Cambridge and made his professional debut at the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park, in 1986, bashing a cymbal in A Midsummer Night's Dream and understudying Ralph Fiennes as Lysander. He then spent several seasons with the National Theatre where he appeared in School for Wives, Yerma, Entertaining Strangers, Juno and the Paycock, and played Charles Surface in The School for Scandal as well as the title role in The Devil's Disciple. He joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1991, appearing in Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Alchemist, 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, The Virtuoso and Amphibians. He also played Laertes to Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet. His work at the RSC brought him a nomination for the Ian Charleson Award. Other theatre includes Habeas Corpus at the Donmar, directed by Sam Mendes, and seasons at Colchester, Leicester Haymarket and Chichester. He also appeared in My Night with Reg (Criterion & Playhouse), US and Them (Hampstead) and Cloaca (Old Vic, directed by Kevin Spacey). In the spring of 2016, Hugh played Dr Stockmann in Howard Davies' acclaimed production of An Enemy of the People at Chichester Festival Theatre.
Hugh is a familiar face to television audiences, having played leading roles in The Cazalets, Take a Girl Like You, Armadillo, Daniel Deronda and The Commander. He also appeared in the Emmy® award-winning The Gathering Storm and played the poet Philip Larkin in Love Again. Other credits range from comedies like The Robinsons, The Vicar of Dibley, Freezing, Rev, Getting On, Mr Stink (BAFTA® nomination, Best Comedy) and Galavant and Walliams & Friends, to dramas such as Diary of a Nobody, Tsunami: The Aftermath, Miss Austen Regrets, Five Days, Hunter, The Silence, Doctor Who and The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses.
Over six years, Downton Abbey won dozens of awards worldwide, and Hugh received a Golden Globe® and 2 Emmy® nominations for his performance as Robert, Earl of Grantham. The cast won 3 Screen Actors Guild awards for Best Ensemble and the show was awarded a special BAFTA® for its unique contribution to TV drama.
Twenty Twelve won a British Comedy Award (2011) and a BAFTA® (2013) for Best Comedy, Hugh being nominated two years running as Best Comedy Actor. Hugh's character, Ian Fletcher, then appeared in W1A, a series about life at the BBC, which won the Broadcasting Press Guild Award for Best Comedy; Hugh received two further BAFTA® nominations for his performance. The third and final series is currently airing on BBC Two.
Hugh made his feature film debut in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein in 1994, directed by Kenneth Branagh. His many film appearances since include Notting Hill (Roger Mitchell, 1999), Mansfield Park (Patricia Rozema, 1999), Stage Beauty (Richard Eyre, 2004), Asylum (David Mackenzie, 2005), Scenes Of A Sexual Nature (Ed Blum, 2006), Man To Man (Régis Wargnier, 2005), From Time To Time (Julian Fellowes, 2009), Glorious 39 (Stephen Poliakoff, 2009), Burke & Hare (John Landis, 2010), Third Star (Hattie Dalton, 2010), Shanghai (Mikael Håfström, 2010), The Monuments Men (George Clooney, 2014), and Paddington (Paul King, 2014). Hugh received a BAFTA® Best Supporting Actor nomination for IRIS and won Best Actor at the Monte Carlo Film Festival for his performance in French Film.
Gurinder Chadha's Viceroy's House, in which Hugh plays Lord Mountbatten alongside Gillian Anderson, opened in India in August and in the US this autumn. Hugh also appeared in director Andy Serkis's Breathe, starring Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy, which opened the London Film Festival in October.
Behind the scenes, Hugh co-produced the first West End production of Jonathan Harvey's acclaimed Beautiful Thing at the Duke of York's Theatre in 1994, and wrote Half Time with Christopher Luscombe, which he also directed.
Hugh is a patron of the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain, The National Youth Arts Trust, Scene & Heard, Giant Olive Theatre Company, The Primary Shakespeare Company and Mousetrap Theatre Projects. He is also an Ambassador for Water Aid.
Sally Hawkins (Mary Brown) is one of the UK's most respected actresses. Her extensive and impressive body of work has been widely lauded by the Academy Awards®, BAFTA® and Golden Globes®.
2017 will see Sally star in Guillermo del Toro's The Shape Of Water, starring alongside Michael Shannon, Octavia Spencer and Richard Jenkins. The fantasy is set against the realworld backdrop of 1963, in Cold War America. Earlier this year, her feature film Maudie was released in which she starred opposite Ethan Hawke. Directed by Aisling Walsh, Maudie is the story of Maud Lewis, the disabled Nova Scotian folk artist.
Last year Sally starred in the second series of the highly acclaimed The Hollow Crown. Sally played the role of Eleanor, Duchess of Gloucester, amongst a cast which included Benedict Cumberbatch and Judi Dench in the mini-series based on Shakespeare's history plays.
In 2013 Sally starred opposite Cate Blanchett in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine, for which she received nominations as 'Best Supporting Actress' from the Academy Awards®, BAFTA® and Golden Globes®. She went on to win an Empire Award for her critically acclaimed performance.
Sally is currently filming Godzilla 2, returning to the role she played in Gareth Edward's 2013 Godzilla reboot.
Sally won a Golden Globe® for Mike Leigh's Happy Go Lucky for her portrayal of the playful 'Poppy'. Other feature film credits include X+Y (Morgan Matthews, 2014), Made In Dagenham (Nigel Cole, 2010), Never Let Me Go (Mark Romanek, 2010), Submarine (Richard Ayoade. 2010), An Education (Lone Scherfig, 2009), Great Expectations (Mike Newell, 2012), Cassandra's Dream (Woody Allen, 2007), Layer Cake (Matthew Vaughan, 2004), All Or Nothing and Vera Drake (Mike Leigh, 2002 and 2004 respectively).
Notable TV appearances include Adrian Shergold's Persuasion (ITV), Marc Munden's Shiny Shiny Bright New Hole in My Heart (BBC), Fingersmith (BBC) and Tipping the Velvet (BBC).
In theatre, Sally originated the lead role in Nick Payne's Constellations at the Royal Court Theatre and West End. Further work includes Romeo and Juliet (West End), Much Ado About Nothing and A Midsummer Night's Dream (Regent's Park Open Air Theatre), The Wintering and Country Music (Royal Court Theatre), House of Barnada Alba (National Theatre), Mrs. Warren's Profession (Broadway).
Julie Walters (Mrs Bird) is an award-winning British actress, who came to prominence in the title role in Educating Rita in 1983 opposite Michael Caine. This won her an Academy Award® nomination as well as a BAFTA® and Golden Globe® award for Best Actress. Walters received her second Academy Award® nomination and won a BAFTA® for her supporting role as the ballet teacher Mrs. Wilkinson in Billy Elliot, directed by Stephen Daldry in 2000.
Julie is perhaps best known internationally to young audiences for her role in one of the most successful franchises in big screen history, playing Mrs. Weasley in seven of the eight Harry Potter films.
Over 30 years, Julie has appeared in countless British film productions, both highly successful and critically acclaimed, such as Roger Michell's Titanic Town in 1998, Calendar Girls (Nigel Cole, 2003), Richard E. Grant's Wah-Wah in 2005, Driving Lessons (Jeremy Brock, 2006), Becoming Jane (Julian Jarrold, 2007) and Mamma Mia! (Phyllida Lloyd, 2008).
Walters has also been honoured for her extensive work on television, recently coming fourth in the ITV network's poll of the public's 50 Greatest Stars in the UK. One of her first stand-out acting roles on TV was in the classic Boys from the Blackstuff (Phillip Saville, 1982) and was followed by a string of significant dramatic and comedic roles, including and The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, GBH, The Wedding Gift and Pat and Margaret. Through the late 1990s, productions included Brazen Hussies (Elijah Moshinsky, 1996), The Ruby in the Smoke (Brian Percival, 2006), as well as WGBH / PBS's Oliver Twist (Renny Rye, 1999), The Canterbury Tales (Dermot Boyd, 2003) and the lead role of outspoken politician in Mo Mowlam.
Julie is perhaps best known to British television audiences for her collaborations with Victoria Wood, appearing with her in the award-winning sitcoms Wood and Walters, Acorn Antiques, Victoria Wood: As Seen On TV and Dinnerladies. In 2009, Julie starred as Dr. Anne Turner in A Short Stay in Switzerland (Simon Curtis, 2009), for which she won the International Emmy® for Best Actress.
Having studied at the Manchester Polytechnic School of Theatre, Walters has also appeared extensively on the stage; in regional theatre, stand-up comedy and cabaret. Educating Rita (Mike Ockerent RSC Donmar Warehouse) launched her into the limelight earning her Variety and Critic's Awards for Best Newcomer, she then went on to play Lady Macbeth (Leicester Haymarket Theatre), Judy in Last of the Haussmans (Howard Davies, The National Theatre), May in Fool for Love (Peter Gill, NT Cottesloe) which won her an Olivier nomination for Best Actress and Kate in All My Sons (Kate Keller, NT Cottesloe) for which she won the 2001 Olivier Award for Best Actress.
In 2013, Julie Walters was awarded the Richard Harris Award for Outstanding Contribution by an Actor at the Moët British Independent Film Awards, celebrating her extensive contribution to the British film industry. This was followed in 2014 by Julie receiving the prestigious BAFTA® Fellowship Award.
In 2015, Julie returned to television with the role of Cynthia Coffin in the British drama Indian Summers, for Channel 4; in the same year, she appeared in the Academy Award® nominated film Brooklyn, in a role which won her a BAFTA® nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Most recently, Julie appeared as Bella Turner in Film Stars Don't Die In Liverpool (Paul McGuigan, 2017).
In 2018 she will return as Rosie Parker in Mamma Mia 2, as well as appearing in Mary Poppins Return, opposite Emily Blunt and Ben Whishaw.
Imelda Staunton (Aunt Lucy) is a celebrated English stage and screen actress. Having trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Imelda appeared in a vast number of high profile plays and musicals in London, including The Wizard of Oz (1987), Uncle Vanya (1988), Into the Woods (1991), Guys and Dolls (1996), Entertaining Mr Sloane (2009) and Good People (2014). In 2015, Imelda starred as Rose in Jonathan Kent's revival of Gypsy, to rave reviews and for which she won the Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical. Most recently, Imelda appeared as Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (2017) at the Harold Pinter Theatre and as Sally in Follies (2017) at the Royal National Theatre. In total for her theatre work, Imelda has earned 11 Olivier nominations, winning four Olivier Awards.
Her career on the big screen has also been extensive and successful. She appeared in Much Ado About Nothing (1993), directed by Kenneth Branagh, Sense And Sensibility (Ang Lee, 1995), Shakespeare In Love (John Madden, 1998), Vera Drake, in the title role (Mike Leigh, 2004), Nanny Mcphee (Kirk Jones, 2005), Pride (Matthew Warchus, 2014), as well as Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix (David Yates, 2007) and Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 in 2010, again directed by David Yates and playing the terrifying role of Professor Dolores Jane Umbridge.
Imelda has also lent her voice to the characters of Margaret Claus in Arthur Christmas (Sarah Smith, 2011), Queen Victoria in The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists! (Peter Lord, 2012), a role which won her a nomination for an Annie Award for Voice Acting; and in 2014 she voiced Aunt Lucy in the first instalment of Paddington, under the direction of Paul King.
Her on screen work has also received much acclaim. For her role as Vera Drake, Imelda won a BAFTA® Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, a British Independent Film Award for Best Actress, an Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actress, only to name a few; and has also received Academy Award® and Golden Globe® nominations. Her second BAFTA® nomination, this time for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, came for her role as Hefina Headon in the critically acclaimed Pride, which won her a British Independent Film Award.
Imelda is also well known to television audiences. She appeared in The Singing Detective (1986), Midsomer Murders, and the comedy drama series Is it legal?, aired on ITV and Channel 4 from 1995 to 1998. In 1995 she starred in the HBO movie Citizen X, and in 2007 she appeared in the five-part BBC series Cranford. More recently, in 2012, she portrayed Alma Reville, wife of Alfred Hitchcock, in the HBO television film The Girl, opposite Toby Jones and Sienna Miller. This role won her nominations for a BAFTA® and a Primetime Emmy® Award.
Upcoming roles in 2017 see Imelda appearing as Sandra in Finding Your Feet, directed by Richard Loncraine.
Staunton was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2006, and Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2016, both for services to drama.
Hugh Grant (Phoenix Buchana) is an award-winning actor who has received acclaim for his work in a wide range of films, which have grossed more than $2.5 billion combined worldwide.
Grant was most recently seen in Stephen Frears' comedy Florence Foster Jenkins, in which he starred opposite Meryl Streep, for Paramount Pictures. His performance has received critical acclaim, earning him Golden Globe®, SAG, BAFTA®, and Critics' Choice nominations as well as winning Best Actor Award at The Evening Standard British Film Awards.
Grant is currently in production on the upcoming Stephen Frears directed BBC Drama, A Very English Scandal.
Previously, Grant starred in Marc Lawrence's romantic comedy The Rewrite and Guy Ritchie's film adaptation of the eponymous MGM series The Man From U.N.C.L.E. In 2012, he starred in the critically acclaimed drama Cloud Atlas, playing multiple roles throughout the film, from the Wachowskis to Tom Tykwer. That same year, he also lent his voice to the lead role of The Pirate Captain in the animated film The Pirates! Band Of Misfits (Peter Lord, 2012), and starred in Did You Hear About The Morgans (Mark Lawrence, 2009) opposite Sarah Jessica Parker.
His other film credits include Music And Lyrics (Mark Lawrence, 2007), American Dreamz (Paul Weitz, 2006); Bridget Jones' Diary (Sharon Maguire, 2001), and its sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason (Beeban Kidron, 2004); the ensemble comedy hit Love Actually (Richard Curtis, 2003); and Two Weeks Notice (Mark Lawrence, 2002) opposite Sandra Bullock. He won a Golden Globe® Award and a BAFTA® for his performance in Four Weddings And A Funeral (Mike Newell, 1994), and was nominated for Golden Globe®s for his performances in Notting Hill (Roger Michell, 1999) and About A Boy (Chris Weitz, 2002). Among his many feature film credits are An Awfully Big Adventure (Mike Newell, 1995), The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill But Came Down A Mountain (Christopher Monger, 1995), Sense And Sensibility (Ang Lee, 1995), Mickey Blue Eyes (Kelly Makin, 1999), Small Time Crooks (Woody Allen, 2000), and Extreme Measures (Michael Apted, 1996) which he also produced.
In addition to his Golden Globe® and BAFTA® honours, Grant has been awarded The Peter Sellers Award for Comedy, Best Actor at The Venice Film Festival and an Honorary César Award.
Grant is also on the board of Hacked Off, which was started in response to the News International phone hacking scandal and campaigns for a free and accountable press.
Brendan Gleeson (Knuckles McGinty) latest projects are David E. Kelley's "Mr Mercedes" (a TV adaptation of the Stephen King novels), Justin Kurzel's Assassin's Creed, Ben Affleck's Live By Night, Joel Hopkins's Hampstead (with Diane Keaton), and Adam Smith's Trespass Against Us with Michael Fassbender.
Other recent projects are Sarah Gavron's Suffragette starring Carey Mulligan and Meryl Streep, Heart Of The Sea directed by Ron Howard, Stonehearts Asylum directed by Brad Anderson, the voice of Conor in Cartoon Saloon's Song Of The Sea, directed by Tomm Moore, Doug Liman's Edge Of Tomorrow with Tom Cruise, Calvary directed by John Michael McDonagh, and The Grand Seduction directed by Don McKellar.
A former teacher, Brendan left that profession to pursue a career in acting - his first love - and joined the Irish theatre company Passion Machine. His rise to fame began when he appeared in Jim Sheridan's The Field and in the lead role of Michael Collins in The Treaty, followed by a number of small roles in such films as Far And Away and Into The West. It was his role as Hamish in Braveheart alongside Mel Gibson that brought him to the attention of Hollywood.
He landed his first starring role in I Went Down, which was followed by his acclaimed role as gang leader Martin Cahill in John Boorman's The General. His performance gained him awards for not only 'Best Actor' at the 1998 Boston Society of Film Critics Awards and 'Best Actor' at the 1998 ALFS, but also awards from the London Film Critics and the 'Best Actor' award at the 1999 Irish Film & Television Awards.
Brendan was nominated for Golden Globe® and BAFTA® awards for his role as Ken in Martin McDonagh's In Bruges, in which he starred alongside Colin Farrell and Ralph Fiennes. In the same year Brendan won an Emmy® award for 'Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie' and an IFTA for 'Best Actor in a Lead Role in Television' for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in the HBO movie "Into the Storm", directed by Thaddeus O'Sullivan. He was also nominated for a Golden Globe® ('Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries or Motion Picture') and a BAFTA® ('Leading Actor') for this performance.
Brendan is of course also well-known for his role as Professor Alastor Moody in the Harry Potter films, as well as the role of Sergeant Gerry Boyle in John Michael McDonagh's The Guard (2011).
Other credits include The Smurfs 2 directed by Raja Gosnell, Safe House directed by Daniel Espinoza, The Raven directed by James McTeigue, Albert Nobbs directed by Rodrigo García, M. Night Shyamalan's The Village, Cold Mountain directed by Anthony Minghella, Ridley Scott's Kingdom Of Heaven, Breakfast On Pluto directed by Neil Jordan, Wolfgang Petersen's Troy, Black Irish directed by Brad Gann, Studs directed by Paul Mercier, John Boorman's The Tiger's Tail, Beowulf directed by Robert Zemeckis, John Woo's Mission: Impossible 2, Stephen Spielberg's AI, John Boorman's Tailer Of Panama and Country Of My Skull, Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later, Martin Scorsese's Gangs Of New York, Perrier's Bounty directed by Ian Fitzgibbon, and Green Zone directed by Paul Greengrass.
Brendan is also the voice of Abbott Ceallach in the animated feature The Secret Of Kells, the Pirate with Gout in Pirates: Band Of Misfits!, and the narrator of the Irish language documentary Seachtar Na Càsca.
Peter Capaldi (Mr Curry) is most recently the 12th incarnation of television Time Lord "Dr Who". Previous to this, his most famous role had been as the Machiavellian spin doctor, Malcolm Tucker, in the television political satire The Thick of it.
Peter has also featured in numerous film, television and stage productions. His films include WWZ (Mark Forster, 2013), In The Loop (Armando Iannucci, 2009), The Fifth Estate (Bill Condon, 2013), Magicians (Andrew O'Connor, 2007), Soft Top Hard Shoulder (Stefan Schwartz, 1993), Dangerous Liaisons (Stephen Friars, 1988), The Lair Of The White Worm (Ken Russell, 1988), Local Hero (Bill Forsyth, 1983).
His many television roles include The Thick of It, The Hour, The Devil's Whore Prime Suspect, The Accused, The Suspicions of Mr Whycher, Minder, Poirot, Crown Court, Skins, Peep Show, Torchwood, Dr Who and many more.
He appeared in the West End stage version of The Ladykillers in 2012, and numerous theatre productions including The Judas Kiss, Feelgood, Blood brothers, John Paul George Ringo and Bert.
Peter won the BAFTA® for 'Best Male Performance in a Comedy' in 2012 for The thick of it. At the 2013 BAFTA®s he was nominated for 2 awards: 'Best Male Performance in a Comedy' for "The thick of it" and 'Best Supporting Actor' in "The Hour". He won 'Best Comedy Actor' at the British Comedy Awards in both 2010 and 2012.
As a writer and director Peter won the 1994 BAFTA® and Oscar® for his short film Franz Kafka's It's A Wonderful Life. He directed and appeared in 2 series of the awardwinning hospital comedy "Getting on". He wrote and appeared in the feature film Soft Top Hard Shoulder which won the audience award at the London Film Festival. His spoof documentary The Cricklewood Greats which he co-wrote, directed and presented was nominated for 'Best Comedy Programme' at the 2012 BAFTA®s.
Jim Broadbent (Mr Gruber) is an Academy Award®, BAFTA®, Emmy® and Golden Globe®-winning theatre, film and television actor, best known for roles in IRIS (for which he won 'Best Supporting Actor' at the Academy Awards® and the Golden Globes® in 2001); Moulin Rouge (for which he was awarded the BAFTA® for 'Performance in a Supporting Role' in 2001) and the International phenomenon the Harry Potter franchise. He was BAFTA® nominated most recently for his role alongside Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady (Phyllida Lloyd, 2011).
He has since continued to appear in an eclectic mix of projects, including John S. Baird's scurrilous Irvine Welsh adaptation Filth; Roger Michell's romantic comedy drama Le Weekend (for which he was nominated for a British Independent Film Award as 'Best Actor'); and The Harry Hill Movie, in which he appeared in drag as a three-armed cleaning lady.
More recently Jim has starred in Christopher Smith's Christmas comedy Get Santa Paul King's critically acclaimed Paddington, based on the beloved children's books by Michael Bond, Nicholas Hytner's Lady In The Van; Sharon Maguire's Bridget Jones' Baby; and Ritesh Batra's A Sense Of An Ending. Upcoming projects include Lance Daly's Black 47.
Since his film debut in 1978, Jim has appeared in countless successful and acclaimed films, establishing a long-running collaboration with Mike Leigh (Life Is Sweet, Topsy-Turvy, Vera Drake and Another Year) and demonstrating his talents as a character actor in films as diverse as The Crying Game (Neil Jordan, 1992), Bullets Over Broadway (Woody Allen, 1994), Little Voice (Mark Herman, 1998); Bridget Jones' Diary (Sharon Maguire, 2001); Hot Fuzz (Edgar Wright, 2007); The Damned United (Tom Hooper, 2009) and Cloud Atlas (Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski, 2012).
Also honoured for his extensive work on television, Broadbent most recently received a Royal Television Award and BAFTA® nomination for his leading performance in Any Human Heart (based on William Boyd's novel of the same name), and had previously been recognised for his performance in Tom Hooper's 'Longford', winning a BAFTA® and a Golden Globe®, and his performance in The Street for which he won an Emmy®. His earlier role in The Gathering Storm (2002) had earned him Golden Globe® and Emmy® nominations. Other selected credits include Birth of a Nation - Tales out of School (Mike Newell, 1983); Black Adder (John Lloyd, 1983); Only Fools and Horses; Victoria Wood: As Seen on TV; The Young Visiters (David Yates, 2003); Einstein & Eddington (Philip Martin, 2008); Exile (John Alexander, 2011); The Great Train Robbery (James Strong's 2013).
Jim also starred alongside Ben Whishaw and Charlotte Rampling in London Spy, an original production by BBC America.
Having studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, Broadbent has appeared extensively on the stage, notably with the Royal National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company. His work on the stage has seen him appear in acclaimed productions ranging from Our Friends in the North by Peter Flannery at the RSC Pit and A Place with Pigs by Athol Fugard at The National, through to Habeas Corpus by Alan Bennett at The Donmar and The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh at The National.
Broadbent has previously collaborated with the creative team for A Christmas Carol, having performed for many years in Patrick Barlow's comedy troupe The National Theatre of Brent and in 2005, Theatre of Blood at The National, which was directed by Phelim McDermott.