Filmmaker Paul King didn’t have to be persuaded to direct the 2015 film Paddington. He essentially campaigned for it.
A child of the 70s, King remembers lying on the living room rug as a child and watching the stop-action Paddington TV series, laughing at the lovable bear’s clumsy antics.
So, when he learned several years ago that a Paddington film was in the works, he launched what he now describes as a “one-person campaign” to become director.
“I just had a feeling of how it could work,” said King, whose sequel, Paddington 2, opens this weekend. “I started writing letters, and I managed to get a meeting with one person, and then their boss, and finally I got a meeting with [producer] David Heyman. … I tried to explain why this young director that he really didn’t know was the only person who should be making Paddington.”
At the time King was a 30-something filmmaker with only a handful of lesser-known projects to his credit, but Heyman nevertheless gave him the role. It’s safe to say it turned out well. It was one of the Top 40 grossing movies of 2015 with $76 million and was widely praised, receiving a score of 98 percent fresh at RottenTomatoes.com, where 80 percent of moviegoers said they liked it.
The Paddington movies are based on a series of children’s book by Michael Bond, who passed away last year at age 91.
King served as a co-writer on both films.
In Paddington 2, our heroic bear is searching for the perfect present for Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday when he sees a pop-up book in a store and embarks upon a series of odd jobs to buy it. But when the book is stolen, it’s up to Paddington and his family, the Browns, to find the thief.
Making a sequel can be “tricky,” said King.
“[Paddington] hadn’t done much in the wider world [in the first film], and so we really wanted to send him out into the community, and see how his goodness stands up against the big, cynical city,” King said. “And [we’d] see whether he could change the world with his kindness, or whether his kindness would be sort of crushed by this reality and cynicism.”
King calls himself a fan of Charlie Chaplin films, Pixar movies and the Wallace and Gromit clay animation series – all projects that feature innocent humor that can make the whole family laugh.
One of his goals was to make a film featuring a similar type of clean humor, he said.
“There’s a great tradition of these sort of quality movies where the jokes are for everyone,” King said, adding that he wanted Paddington 2 to be the type of film “that can bind the whole family together.”
Although Paddington the bear is funny, he also has positive traits that children can model.
“Paddington is brought up by his Aunty Lucy, and she has these kind of really phenomenal values, of looking for the good in other people,” King said. “He always has a very kind and polite attitude. One of the things he does that is very special is he doesn’t judge a book by its cover.”
Visit Paddington.com for more information.
Paddington 2 is rated PG for some action and mild rude humor.
— by Michael Foust
Foust has covered the film industry for more than a decade. Visit his website, MichaelFoust.com