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Hugh Bonneville Talks Values & Filming Paddington 2

Paddington 2, starring Hugh Bonneville
Movie Info
 

RATING:

PG for some action and mild rude humor

GENRES:

Animation, Adventure, Comedy

RELEASE:

January 12, 2018

STARRING:

Hugh Grant, Hugh Bonneville, Sally Hawkins, Julie Walters, and the voice of Ben Whishaw (Paddington Bear)

DIRECTOR:

Paul King

DISTRIBUTOR:

Warner Bros.

More on this movie at IMDb.com

Hannah Goodwyn - Senior Producer

If you haven't seen Paddington (2014), chances are you've caught the trailer for Paddington 2 or at the very least read the dear books about this lovable Peruvian bear who finds a new family and life in London. You're missing out if you and your family haven't.

It's hard not to fall in love with a bear who's as full of joy and kindness as he is of orange marmalade.

One of his biggest fans is a star of these delightful Paddington movies -- Hugh Bonneville (a.k.a. Lord Grantham from Downton Abbey). In an interview with the Paddington, London-born actor earlier this week, CBN.com found out a bit more about this sequel, the heart behind Paddington, and the legacy author Michael Bond left behind. Here are excerpts from that phone call:

Hannah Goodwyn: Paddington 2 is your first movie sequel, ever. So, what brought you back to 32 Windsor Gardens?

Hugh Bonneville: Well, I mean, we've become quite a family on the first film really. And the success and delight of it not necessarily surprised us, because we knew it was a lovely project; but it had gone so well that there seemed to be such an appetite for it to come back. And in the hands of Paul King who writes and directs it, it really catches the spirit of the original stories, so it seemed a bit of a no-brainer to do it again. Plus, the truckload of cash that they brought round to my house really helped.

Goodwyn: Did you read the stories of Paddington Bear as a kid?

Bonneville: I did, yeah. My folks read them to me. I mean, the first stories were published in 1958 and Michael Bond carried on writing the stories right up until his death last year. He died on the last day of filming, in fact, which was very poignant for us. So, Paddington's been a part of British sort of children's literature for certainly all of my lifetime. So, mom and dad used to read me the stories and then when I was old enough I began reading them for myself, and he became my pal and I went on adventures with him.

Goodwyn: Were you on set when you received the news of Bond's passing?

Bonneville: Yeah. It was rather strange; and I daresay poignant because he's literally been the father of Paddington and the godfather of our movies. And he even had a sort of Hitchcock-ian pop-up appearance in the first movie. He hadn't been on the set of the second movie, but he'd certainly been in touch with Paul, our writer, a lot to discuss the story and the way it was going. It was important to keep its creator on the side, so to speak. But his daughter, Karen, has taken over the mantel and looks after the legacy of the bear. And she says that she knows that her dad would have been as thrilled with the second one as he was with the first.

Goodwyn: Did you meet Michael Bond during the promotion of the first movie or while making of it?

Bonneville: Absolutely, yeah. He and his wife, Sue, came on set. And Sue gave me some of her homemade marmalade, which felt very special indeed. Then, we actually saw her, each other since the movie. My wife and his wife, Sue, bonded over guinea pigs. They have a shared interest in guinea pigs. So, Michael and I would sit there and have a glass of champagne while our wives played on the floor with these guinea pigs. So there you have it, the inside track. We had a very wonderful memorial service for Michael at St. Paul's Cathedral not so long ago. It's rather appropriate that the final book he wrote about Paddington is called Paddington at St. Paul's, so the spirit lives on.

Goodwyn: That spirit of Paddington is encompassed in the joy he spreads and his quote about, 'If we're kind and polite, the world will be right.' How can Paddington's sense of humanity speak to audiences today?

Bonneville: Well, I think absolutely. One of the inspirations for the way that the character [of Paddington] was created was Michael's own memory of the evacuees, the little children who sat on the station platforms with boxes around their necks which were gas masks, being evacuated, displaced from their homes, sent somewhere else to safety in the war (World War II).

In the region of London where he set the books, where he lived near Paddington, was a bustling, growing area of multiculturalism in the 1950s. A lot of people finding new homes there from having come from the West Indies, in particular. So this sense of resettlement and finding a new home in a strange place, and depending on the kindness of strangers and being allowed to feel included in a place that perhaps wasn't their natural home, is so very much the sense of Paddington's stories. And I think we've all felt that feeling of displacement where we're going to a new school or a new town, or a new country and being welcomed by others. The human kindness of others is I think a human quality that we can be reminded of from time to time.

Also, this is a bear who doesn't boast, who doesn't say, 'My button's bigger than yours.' He's a bear who wants to find the best in people; and modesty and courtesy and politeness are his hallmarks. Those are tremendous values to aspire to even if we can't necessarily achieve them in our day-to-day life. He's a great role model to follow.

Goodwyn: The original movie was the first family film to be nominated as 'Best British Film' at the BAFTAs (basically the UK's Oscars). And Paddington 2 has already done well in the UK and overseas (having been released already outside the U.S.). What's your hope for this sequel?

Bonneville: Well, it's interesting, people who have seen it so far in Europe where it's been on release for a few weeks now and it's done even better than the first — well, people have called it The Godfather part 2 of 'the family movie genre', which is a great honor to be considered as good as, if not better than its predecessor. I think it really has struck a chord and it seems to be more timely than ever. And I really think and hope the people in America will embrace it just as they embraced the first.

We had a wonderful, wonderful launch in L.A. at the weekend and now we're here in New York. I'm about to introduce it to a whole lot of families this afternoon and the reaction has been universally uplifting, which is really nice, because everyone works hard on a movie, as you know, and not all of them hit the spot and this one seems to have done so.

Goodwyn: Have you been to a screening yet where you've been able to observe a general audience watching the Paddington 2?

Bonneville: Absolutely. I've been to a couple in Germany, in France, and one here in America, as well as, England. The reaction has been universally the same. It's worth taking a tissue just in case. There's a few lump-in-the-throat moments, but it's above and beyond everything. It's great fun. And yeah, I've seen kids standing on their seats cheering away at it and wanting to have a Paddington in their life.

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