As an outrageous villain in “Paddington 2,” Hugh Grant plays a vain actor who dons a number of preposterous costumes from his glory days on stage in pursuit of a treasure map from one gentle talking bear.
It’s his latest role breaking out of the romantic leading man parts for which he’s best known, and Grant would seem to be throughly enjoying himself in front of the camera. But then that impression would be wrong, he tells Made in Hollywood reporter Julie Harkness Arnold.
“I’m not sure that ‘exciting’ and ‘fun’ are the words for me on a film set because I’m so tense and neurotic,” he says. “I like to make everyone around me the same. They were a very happy bunch on the first film and I really lowered the morale, I think, significantly.”
Deadpans his costar Hugh Bonneville: “You achieved that.”
All British dry wit aside, Bonneville, who returns as Paddington’s protective Mr. Brown, says he approached the project with some concerns.
“I did grow up with Paddington, and I was therefore very unwilling to do the film,” he says. “When a beloved children’s character exists in your head and you hear the voice in your head, one is very nervous when you that some big-shot producer wants to turn it into a movie and probably ruin it.”
But he found himself in “safe hands” with producer David Heyman, who adapted the Harry Potter books, and writer-director Paul King, who sought to ground this fantasy in reality.
“It sounds ridiculous when you’re talking about a talking bear, but we try to be quite truthful about the emotions of the scenes,” King says. “And Paddington is a stranger in a strange land and he feels like he’s found a little corner of London that he can be comfortable in. And suddenly it all disappears. I think it’s something that we’ve all had that experience.”