The stars of Paddington 2 have spoken of their determination to make the film a triumph in memory of the character’s creator, who died this year.
Michael Bond, who first introduced the world to a kind-hearted Peruvian bear called Paddington in the 1950s, died aged 91 on the last day of filming for the forthcoming sequel.
British actor Ben Whishaw has voiced the Marmalade-mad creature in both outings, the latest of which will be released in cinemas this month.
Speaking at the film’s world premiere in London, the 37-year-old told the Press Association: “It’s so sad.
“I was just more determined to do it really well and do it in his memory, it is such a beautiful creation he came up with.”
His views were echoed by fellow film favourite Hugh Bonneville, who returns as Paddington’s surrogate father, Henry Brown.
The pair were among an impressive roll-call of British talent to arrive on the red carpet at the British Film Institute on London’s Southbank, which also included Julie Walters and Jim Broadbent.
The Downton Abbey star said: “I think the only sense of pressure was wanting to do it right for Michael Bond, whose creation this is, and the script was so adorable and the character so established as being an adorable piece of genius work and the CGI seemingly very real.
“So the expectations were high and just fingers crossed people won’t say ‘oh, what a rubbish second album that was’.”
He added: “We got to know him a bit on the first film and after the first film we got to know him a bit more and he passed away on the last day of filming, which was very poignant for us.”
Paddington first graced the silver screen in 2014, achieving huge commercial and critical success, including a Bafta nomination for Best British Film.
This year’s release welcomes Hugh Grant into the fold as Phoenix Buchanan, a malevolent actor whose best years are behind him.
The Love Actually star admitted feeling nervous about joining for the sequel to a film which was so well-received.
He said: “It’s kind of a leg up, you think the second one it’s likely to be successful so you’re halfway there, but on the other hand there is a danger that the new boy might wreck it all – so it was stressful.”
Having shot to global fame during the 1990s, Grant admitted being wounded by the implied parallels between the character he portrays and his own career.
“I was very hurt. They say they originally called the character Hugh – so yes, it is hurtful, but it worked out all right.”
Bonneville quipped of his co-star: “We haven’t been on a film together for 19 years, but I admire him because they were trying to find an actor who was vain, over the hill, full of himself, and really narcissistic so it was a heck of a stretch for him – but he managed to do it.”
Asked which Hugh gave the films best performance, he added: “He wins – he smashes every seen and runs away with it.”
Paddington 2 opens in cinemas on November 10