Hugh Bonneville updates on 'Paddington 3' and 'Downton Abbey 2' (exclusive)
Watch: Hugh Bonneville reveals the latest on Paddington and Downton Abbey
Hugh Bonneville has praised Paddington producer David Heyman for holding out for a script that's good enough before making a third movie.
The star also said the second film outing for the ensemble cast of Downton Abbey is still due to go in front of cameras in 2021, pending COVID-19 restrictions.
Read more: Hugh Grant reprises Paddington 2 character in message to fundraising fan
In an interview to promote his performance as author Roald Dahl in To Olivia, Bonneville told Yahoo Entertainment UK that he has high hopes for the third Paddington movie — which has now been officially announced.
"Last year I did run into David Heyman and told him I keep being asked about Paddington 3," Bonneville said.
"He said: 'We are working on a story and we're getting there.' But this is what impressed me most, he said: 'We're not gonna make it unless that script is as good as the other two.'
"You could have been a cynical, cash register producer saying 'we'll just take the cash, let's get the script out there and bang out Paddington 3', but he knows we owe it to the honour of Michael Bond, to the bear himself and not least to the millions of fans of Paddington around the world to get it right."
"So David will only get a script out to those who are involved when he's got one that's à point and ready to go. But the point is that there's talk of it and that's lovely. It's a joy and I'm so glad it has been shown a few times to cheer people up in these dark times."
Read more: Paddington and other big screen bears
Bonneville plays insurance man Mr Brown in the movies, serving as a father figure to Ben Whishaw's CGI-enhanced take on the Peruvian protagonist.
The first Paddington film in 2014 was a box office success, while Paddington 2 currently stands as the best-reviewed movie in the history of Rotten Tomatoes — with 243 positive reviews and not a single negative assessment.
Director Paul King and co-writer Simon Farnaby will not be behind the third movie, though King is staying on in some capacity.
As far as Downton Abbey goes, the feature-length sequel to the 2019 box office hit is still moving forward, with plans still afoot to shoot this year.
Reports last year suggested that 86-year-old Maggie Smith would be kept safe via her own separate "bubble" on the set, but Bonneville said there are plenty of issues that could crop up in making the movie.
"There are so many variables as in so many walks of life," said Bonneville. "There is a script, there is a positive energy and there is a will, but is there a way? Let's wait and see."
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The movie managed a bumper box office haul of $234m (£168m), including an appearance in the top 10 UK releases for the year — earning £25.6m of its total gross on these shores.
In To Olivia, Bonneville plays Dahl as he puts together the story that would become Charlie and the Chocolate Factory — one of his most famous works.
The film follows Dahl and his wife — Hollywood star Patricia Neal (Keeley Hawes) — in the aftermath of their daughter's death at the age of seven from encephalitis caused by measles.
Read more: Watch the trailer for To Olivia
While Dahl was hard at work finishing Charlie, Neal took on a role alongside Paul Newman in Hud and would ultimately win an Oscar for her performance.
To Olivia, a Sky Original film, airs on Sky Cinema and NOW TV from 19 February.
Watch: Trailer for Paddington 2