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    Colin Firth "Consciously Uncoupling" From Being the Voice of Paddington

    Colin Firth, Paddington Bear AP Photo

    Battered hats off to Colin Firth.

    The Oscar winner took the trendy way out of lending his voice to the titular bear in the live-action feature Paddington, saying in a statement confirmed by his rep, "After a period of denial, we've chosen 'conscious uncoupling.'"

    Firth is of course referring to Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin's now infamous term for what in civilian parlance was a plain old separation.

    But back to the matter at hand—it's surprising to hear of Firth's exit from the long-gestating project, based on the beloved children's books about the duffle- coat-and-hat-wearing, marmalade-loving bear from the jungles of Peru.

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    The film was first announced by Warner Bros. in 2007, the first poster was released in 2012 and an official teaser trailer came out in March featuring a glimpse of the CGI-born Paddington but no hint of his voice.

    And Firth has given the really beautiful-looking movie a ringing endorsement (just the way Gwyneth and Chris went about their conscious uncoupling), but basically said that things just didn't add up for him and the bear.

    "It's been bittersweet to see this delightful creature take shape and come to the sad realization that he simply doesn't have my voice," the star of The King's Speech said. "I've had the joy of seeing most of the film and it's going to be quite wonderful. I still feel rather protective of this bear and I'm pestering them all with suggestions for finding a voice worthy of him."

    Paddington now finds itself in a position familiar to Spike Jonze, who after having Samantha Morton voice the machine that Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with in Her ended up replacing her with Scarlett Johansson and to the makers of Robot & Frank, who swapped out Liev Schreiber for Peter Sarsgaard as the voice of the robot.

    Per Entertainment Weekly, which was first to report Firth's exit, director Paul King promises that, regardless, Paddington's "big screen debut will be magnificent" and Warner Bros. is still aiming for a Christmas Day release in the U.S.

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