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'Paddington 2': the making of the best reviewed film ever

‘Paddington 2’ director Paul King shares the story of his beguiling sequel using six pieces of unseen art

By Phil de Semlyen
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1. The spark
‘We had the idea of a pop-up book of this perfect, storybook London that Paddington wants to buy for his Aunt Lucy. We actually wanted to put it in the first film, but couldn’t find a home for it. We’ve tried to capture that feeling of walking around a corner in London and seeing something you’ve never seen before. It’s magical.’

2. The adventure 
‘I watched a lot of Frank Capra movies, where the little guy goes to the big city, gets chewed up by the system and has to try to keep his values. That felt like a great set-up for a Paddington film. Then we decided he’d be accused of a crime he didn’t commit – stealing this book – and go to prison.’3. The baddie 
‘This is Hugh Grant’s thieving actor, Phoenix Buchanan, in disguise. Hugh is never happier than taking the piss out of the whole ridiculous enterprise [of acting] – it felt lovely to see him do something fruity and preposterous. Phoenix is very vain, so of course he wants to look like a sexy nun. You don’t often have conversations on a film like: “How do we make him a sexy nun? Ah, let’s use a beauty spot!”’

 

4. The jailbird
‘Knuckles McGinty is the toughest man in Portobello Prison and Paddington immediately bonks him on the head with a baguette. He then dyes all the uniforms pink, which is the best silly thing you can possibly do to screw up your life in prison. Brendan Gleeson took what could have been a two-dimensional hardman and really brought him to life and gave him humanity. I mean, he’s called Knuckles! To give him any humanity at all is a miracle.’ 

5. The landmarks
‘We tried to use all the landmarks in the books. I still can’t believe St Paul’s let us film there, but that’s the power of Paddington Bear. He opened doors around London for us. I mean, why on earth would they allow you to film a semi-sacrilegious scene in St Paul’s Cathedral? They closed for a day for us. That was a bucket-list item ticked.’

6. The tone 
‘Paddington isn’t political but the film’s themes of kindness and empathy and understanding of others are universal. Chaplin and Dickens were touchstones: the idea of lost children. To have that combination of comedy and sadness is always the aim – and if you can chuck a talking animal at it, then you’re golden. It’s the one thing Dickens never did.’

Paddington 2 review

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