colin firth paddingtonTaking a cue from Gwyneth Paltrow, Colin Firth is leaving the "Paddington" production.

"After a period of denial, we've chosen 'conscious uncoupling,'" Firth joked in a statement to Entertainment Weekly about his departure from the animated flick about the lovable British bear.

Firth and director Paul King chalked up the decision to Firth's voice just not quite fitting the character, a discovery the pair said was mutual and without malice.

"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," Firth's statement 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."

EW notes that while it's strange for an actor to leave a project so close to its release -- "Paddington" is set to hit UK theaters in late November, and the U.S. in time for Christmas -- voice actors are more easily replaced, and high-profile switcheroos are not uncommon. The magazine cited examples such as Scarlett Johansson swapping in her husky voice in place of Samantha Morton's in "Her"; Ty Burrell replacing Robert Downey Jr. in "Mr. Peabody and Sherman"; and Albert Brooks subbing in for William H. Macy in "Finding Nemo."

King also released a statement about Firth's departure, and said that while the production was sad to see the Oscar winner go, filmmakers were still determined to make sure that Paddington's "big screen debut is magnificent."

"I cannot thank [Firth] enough for his contribution to 'Paddington,'" King's statement said. "We love the voice and we love the bear, but as our young bear came into being we agreed that the two didn't seem to fit. So, with somewhat heavy hearts we decided to part ways."

"Paddington" will make its British debut on November 28, and hit U.S. theaters on December 25.

[via: Entertainment Weekly]

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