Until recently, there was no antagonist role in cinema more iconic than the Bond villain – a part which came to represent the epitome of all that was evil in the world of film.
In recent years, however, an even more treacherous role has emerged: that of the Paddington villain. And with news breaking this week that Paddington 3 is officially in development, there will surely be a host of stars desperate to follow in the footsteps of Hugh Grant and Nicole Kidman and take on the loveable Peruvian bear.
Grant’s show-stopping turn as flamboyant thespian Phoenix Buchanan in Paddington 2 will certainly be hard to top, but we’ve put together a list of stars who could at least give him a run for his money – and we weren’t exactly short on options.
Read our list below – and you can also cast a vote for which of our suggestions you’d love to see everyone’s favourite marmalade fanatic go up against.
One of the first names to emerge as a possible villain when the announcement of a third film was made was Toni Collette, with the Netflix Film Twitter account posting a tweet that quickly went viral on the social media platform. We’d certainly throw our weight behind this suggestion – her uniquely expressive acting style makes her a perfect fit for the role.
In 2019, Elba played one of the more… unconventional villains in recent memory – taking on the role of Macavity in Tom Hooper’s critically derided Cats. And while we wouldn’t want to see him dressed as a disturbing feline again any time soon, Elba certainly has the range to play a larger than life baddie, with his CV also including turns as the antagonist in Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, and as the voice of fearsome tiger Shere Kahn in Disney’s live-action version of The Jungle Book.
There can’t be many actors working today with the pedigree of Mads Mikkelsen when it comes to playing baddies. The Danish actor played Bond villain Le Chiffre in Casino Royale, starred as Dr. Hannibal Lecter in the popular TV series Hannibal and is set to replace Johnny Depp as Gellert Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts franchise. Playing a Paddington villain, then, would be the icing on the cake (or the marmalade in the sandwich)…
Newton has already ticked off perhaps the most sought-after guest star role in British TV – appearing in the fourth series of Line of Duty – and so she seems a great fit for what is surely becoming one of the most sought-after guest star roles in British film. The versatile actor has won significant acclaim throughout her career and this would represent something of a different challenge – but one we’re sure she’d relish.
We’ve already had one actor who’s played Hannibal Lecter on this list – and we’d be fools not to include the other great actor to have taken on the role. Hopkins is one of the nation’s finest living actors and would perhaps pose rather a different threat to Paddington than the villains he’s faced before – although he’d certainly be no less menacing.
Social media was abuzz recently when the first trailer dropped for Cruella – with Emma Stone starring as the famed Dalmatian-hater. Before Stone, however, it was Glenn Close who took on the role of de Vil, and she more than proved her ability to play the kind of scenery-chewing, charismatic villain that would be perfect for Paddington.
Michael Sheen and David Tennant
One way to raise the stakes for Paddington 3 would be to bring in not one but two actors as villains, and who could work better as a mischievous double act than Michael Sheen and David Tennant? As if the chemistry they displayed in 2019’s Good Omens wasn’t enough, the pair have proved during two seasons of lockdown comedy Staged that they’re perfect foils for each other – and they would make a delightful Machievellan pairing in a Paddington movie.
If we’re wanting another flamboyant villain in the same vein as Phoenix Buchanan, then we needn’t look further than the wonderfully charismatic Christine Baranski. She’s also proved in the Mamma Mia films that she’s more than capable of performing an irresistible musical number – perhaps she could deliver one to close out Paddington 3 in the same way Grant did in the second film?
Former Downton star Stevens proved in last year’s Eurovision film that he’s an incredibly game actor, more than happy to throw himself into an extremely extravagant role. We’d be very excited to see what he could do as a Paddington villain – perhaps he could even stick with the Russian accent he used in Eurovision…
One of the first names to come up whenever any major role is announced is always Meryl Streep (because Streep has range!) – and the record-breaking actor would certainly make for an interesting choice as a Paddington villain. And given her versatility, she could play an antagonist in any number of different ways, too!
Firth was actually the original choice to voice Paddington in these movies before he pulled out because he was unable to find a suitable voice. Perhaps he fancies a return to the franchise in a very different role? He’s proved in the past that he’s more than capable of playing a baddie – with his CV including villainous turns in Mary Poppins Returns, The English Patient and Tinker Tailor Solider Spy. This would be a welcome addition to the list.
This suggestion doesn’t actually come from us, but from Hurley’s ex-partner – and former Paddington big bad – Hugh Grant. Last year, Hurley posted on Twitter to explain how she had become obsessed with making marmalade during lockdown, and it didn’t take long for Grant to quote Tweet with the caption ‘Paddington 3’. Surely a cameo at the very least can be arranged…
Craig has made one thing clear about his post-Bond career – he wants to have a bit of fun. Having played a rather gritty, dour version of the double agent since 2006, the actor has already been seeking out some more light-hearted roles (see Knives Out), and playing a Paddington villain would be the perfect way to blend his comic chops with his talents as a serious actor.
John Malkovich has a history for entertainingly hamming it up in a number of scenery-chewing roles – and he’s also not one to take himself too seriously, as evidenced by his unforgettable performance as a version of himself in 1999’s Being John Malkovich. And who can forget his turn as villain Pascal Sauvage in the first Johnny English film?
Dyer may not have the star power of any of the other names on this list – at least not outside the UK. But if there’s one thing we’d be guaranteed from the EastEnders star taking on this role then it’s a committed, wonderfully theatrical performance. And isn’t that exactly what’s needed for this role?
Ben Whishaw… as a human
OK – so this one is a bit outside the box, but it would be an excellent twist. Whishaw, of course, provides the voice for Paddington, so what better left-field choice could there be than Whishaw himself starring as a villain, in his human form of course. Whishaw vs Whishaw? We’re in!