Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville is in negotiations to take the lead role in Paddington Bear for StudioCanal.

The actor will play Henry Brown, the uptight patriarch of an English family who find the talking title bear at London's Paddington Station. They take him in and try to protect him from the evil director of the Museum of National History, who moonlights as a taxidermist. The producers want House star Hugh Laurie to provide the bear's voice, but negotiations have not begun yet.

Paul King (The Mighty Boosh) is directing this live-action/CGI hybrid from a screenplay by Hamish McColl, based on the long-running series of Paddington Bear books by Michael Bond. David Heyman is producing through his Heyday Films banner, alongside Jeffrey Clifford. Production is scheduled to begin this fall.

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The project was initially set up at Warner Bros. in 2007 by David Heyman, who produced all of the Harry Potter movies for the studio, before it was moved to StudioCanal. Hugh Bonneville will next be seen on the big screen alongside George Clooney and Daniel Craig in The Monuments Men, opening December 20.