Firth will provide the voice of the popular character known for his love of marmalade sandwiches

Colin Firth is to provide the voice of Paddington Bear in a forthcoming live action film.

The popular character created by Michael Bond, known for his love of marmalade sandwiches, will be brought to life by CGI, but the rest of the film’s characters will be played by “real, live, human beings”, Firth told the Daily Mail. Nicole Kidman has signed up to play a baddie and Julie Walters will appear as Mrs Bird, housekeeper to Paddington’s adoptive family the Browns.

Meanwhile, Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey) and Sally Hawkins (Made In Dagenham) have been cast as Mr and Mrs Brown and Jim Broadbent is in talks to take a part in the film too.

“Paddington will be computer-generated, and I will speak his lines with, I suspect, a slight Peruvian flavour,” Firth explained before adding: “But the idea is that Paddington will have something of me in his DNA because I’m going to do some sessions wearing one of those helmets with cameras to capture my face muscles, and all that data will somehow be incorporated into Paddington. Then they’ll use motion-capture equipment on someone more bear-size than me to do all the full body, bear stuff.”

Also speaking to the Daily Mail, Kidman added: “I just had to do the bear film. My agent called and said: ‘We’ve got this offer from London for you to be in a film about a Paddington Bear.’ And I said: ‘You mean the Paddington Bear?!’ I was read the stories when I was little and I grew up with Paddington. I know all about his adventures and what mischief he got up to.”

The Paddington Bear film is being produced by David Heyman, who helped bring the Harry Potter books to the big screen. Paul King (The Mighty Boosh, Bunny And The Bull) is on board as director and the film’s script has received input from various screenwriters including Emma Thompson, who recently gave it “a polish”, the Daily Mail reports. Shooting is due to start in London later this year (2013).

When the film was announced in May of last year (2012), it was described as a “modern take” on Bond’s classic stories involving the duffle coat-wearing bear, who arrives from Peru at London’s Paddington station and is taken in by an English family. The first book was published in 1958 and Paddington has since starred in several TV series, including the BBC’s much-loved 1975 adaptation in which he appears as a stop-motion animated puppet.