Tobias Menzies Will Be In Paddington 3

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-Ed. note: Transcript has been (lightly!) edited for clarity.


INTRODUCTION TO TMWBIP3

Millie: [plays an audio-clipping of someone going ham on a typewriter] We’re in the writer’s room. Is it black and white? Are you getting the cigarette smoke? Herman Mankiewicz is here. God, how fast is this person typing? [typewriter pings to signal the end of a page] Okay, we’re good. 

Shreya: I got the cigarette smoke, I got the smell of unwashed bodies, I got the Jack Kerouac book lying in the corner. 

Millie: The smell of brilliantine. We’re there. We are untalented men, that’s how we’ll do this. We’ll succeed without any problems. So, Shreya my love, why are we here today?

Shreya: Oh my god, I was about to pass this question to you. Basically. We are here today to manifest the appearance of Tobias Menzies in Paddington 3, otherwise a project titled, ‘Tobias Menzies Will Be In Paddington 3’, abbreviated to TMWBIP3.

Millie: I was a little uncertain on whether we were going with ‘will’ or ‘should’, because while we are modelling this on the wonderful McElroy Brothers project of a similar name (The McElroy Brothers Will Be In Trolls World Tour), they are, however, people with influence. Whereas we are just mere aspirational mortals. So I was wondering whether we are going for the more delicate, hesitant, ‘should’. But no! I like the boldness of ‘will’. We are manifesting this.

Shreya: Good point, and there is a cost of disillusioning the people if this project falls through. We don’t want that. But I don’t know, I feel like our collective will-power here will see us through.

Millie: We are the voice of the people. It’s fine.

Shreya: Two hundred of us in The Terror fanbase. Just holding hands and singing. 

Millie: Exactly how it happens in Midsommar

So. Paddington 3 is of yet a relatively formless project about which we don’t know an awful lot, so I think before we get ahead of ourselves, we need to establish what we think needs to be done in Paddington 3, and then work backwards. Do we have, as I certainly do, ideas for what needs to happen in Paddington 3? For context, I have been googling things such as ‘self realization’ versus ‘self actualization’, and other psychological terms which I don’t really know the meaning of, because I’m not fucking around here. I am coming at this with true uninformed, but enthusiastic appreciation, for what Paddington needs to achieve in this journey. And it is a journey. Maybe not a physical journey, but an emotional journey.

I turned off Mank halfway through because I realized that my time on this earth is finite and precious. Yet I never had that feeling during Paddington 1 or Paddington 2.

PADDINGTON 1 VS. PADDINGTON 2

Shreya: I’m ready to meet you at your level, I’ve been reading academic papers on immigrant narratives in preparation for this. But yeah, I’m with you on the fact that it’s an emotional journey foremost. And I did want to ask you about this before we got into the conversation. 

You and I — and to our critics, this will be proof that we’re in an echo-chamber — but you and I are among what is probably a small set of people who found Paddington 1 a better film than Paddington 2. I think we should talk a little bit about that. 

Millie: Well. Of course, I bow to The Powers That Be that judge Paddington 2 to be the world’s greatest cinematic masterpiece. Of course. I like its heightenedness, its hyper-stylization, the way it knows what it’s doing and does it! I dislike its lack of respect for the physical and chemical properties of marmalade. You cannot stick to a moving train with marmalade, I don’t believe that! And yes I’m aware that was toffee apples, but that’s the kind of thing this movie does. I’m fact-checking myself on my Paddington 2 lore, don’t worry. 

The movie goes with a kind of Macguffin-y plotline. It knows who Paddington is, but doesn’t necessarily progress him. It pushes a very important lesson — which I think Paddington always does — which is that he is so himself, he is so sweet and earnest and kind and good, that he brings those qualities out in others. First, in Paddington 1 with the Brown family and the other residents of Windsor Gardens, and then in Paddington 2, with the people in the prison. Less so with Hugh Grant, but in a backwards kind of way at the end with Hugh Grant. 

But it’s not Paddington. It’s more of the events that he finds himself in being himself, and I think they’re two subtly different things. And I think, though this is a franchise for everyone, it is also primarily a franchise for children. It can be more meaningful to show children that you don’t have to find yourself in a series of wacky situations to do good things. That you can drive yourself forward by simply being you, and being true, and being the best version of yourself and kind and good in difficult situations, rather than difficult situations such as ending up in prison and transforming the prison catering system. Children don’t tend to do that, but children do find themselves in new situations with new people, and I think that is an important lesson to bestow.

Shreya: Yeah. I’m with you there. We should also mention that as of recording this, Paddington 2 has overtaken Citizen Kane on Rotten Tomatoes as the most positively-reviewed movie of all-time.

Millie: Let me put it this way. I turned off Mank halfway through because I realized that my time on this earth is finite and precious. Yet I never had that feeling during Paddington 1 or Paddington 2.

Shreya: Precisely, precisely. Also, credit where credit’s due, Millie. If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have watched both the movies and read Paddington At Large, and we wouldn’t have done this. What a whirlwind romance with this franchise.

Fig. 1. Historical records. Messages from 28 April 2020. 

Millie: There’s so much good in Paddington. It brings people together. My famous story, which I delighted you with, and I delight myself whenever I remember it, was when I first watched Paddington 1 on a cross-continental flight from Vancouver to Montreal.

I sat down on the middle seat, I said a little nodding polite ‘hello’ to the people on either side of me, did not make any further overtures in conversation, and watched Paddington 1. Paddington 1 ended. I navigated to the TV menu on the back of the headrest and immediately, without break, without interruption, watched Paddington 2.

The guy in the aisle seat got up to use the toilet. Myself and the gentleman by the window got up to use the toilet at the same time. We stood in the queue. I had been sharing space, air, particulates with this man in the closed circulation of this aircraft for the last six hours, and had made no attempt at conversation. Yet his opening gambit was to simply turn to me and say, “So. So you like Paddington then.”

What can you say to that? I did, in fact, like Paddington.

Shreya: Incredible story.

Millie: Thank you. If you’re listening out there, friend — I love you. I hope you’re doing well. I hope you too went home and watched Paddington.

Shreya: I really want to believe you had that ripple impact on the people sitting left and right to you. Which is, you know, left and right and centre. We can make a political metaphor out of that. 

Millie: The centre seat in my flight from Vancouver to Montreal is the centre of the political spectrum, and much like the political centre, Paddington brings together people from the left and the right.

Shreya: God. As a Marxist, I didn’t think this one through.

Millie: Oh baby, you haven’t seen the notes that I’ve got for later.

Shreya: Okay, back to the point of why we like Paddington 1, and how that connects with what we want to see in Paddington 3. We want to see the emotional journey. 

I’ll go so far as to say Paddington 1 had better emotional and fleshed-out arcs for all of the characters compared to the sequel. Mrs. Brown, artistic inspiration gone stale, finds it by falling in love with her husband again. Mr. Brown, squaring the responsibility of fatherhood with his younger adventurous self, strengthens his relationship with Jonathan. Judy accepts Mrs. Brown’s kookiness and lets go of being embarrassed all the time. In turn, Mrs. Brown stops treating Judy as her ‘poppet’ or ‘sweetheart’ or ‘darling’, but comes to respect that she’s a teenage girl with her own ideas and preferences. 

I was also thinking about this, because you know, Hugh Grant in Paddington 2 is basically taking on the evil mantle of his father. But in Paddington 1, Nicole Kidman’s father is actually one of the ‘good guys’, and she flips completely the other way. I thought that was a clever way of underlining the theme of chosen family, and how it’s all about the decisions we make. Nothing is predetermined.

Millie: And not just chosen family, but also chosen identity. The fact that Paddington chooses every day to be a good, sweet person. He hasn’t had his insane breakdown rage, final camel-straw-backbreaking, Paddington Goes On A Murderous Rampage, but you know that he could! But he chooses not to! Because he doesn’t want to! It’s all about making those choices, and in that way it’s not just found family, it’s actually found identity, and finding your place within that.

Shreya: Yeah. And I think in all these sort of subtle ways, I like Paddington 1 more. Even though Paddington 2 is a masterclass in filmmaking! We will not besmirch the name of Paddington 2 in these halls, no sir. 

Millie: Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel wants what Paddington 2 has. And I’m sorry, he doesn’t have it, and if you disagree, check Rotten Tomatoes! Citizen Kane doesn’t have it either! So get with the program!

INTRODUCTION TO TOBIAS MENZIES

Shreya: I’m keen to get into our scenarios for Tobias Menzies and Paddington. But first, some exposition is deserved on Mr. Menzies.

Millie: But of course. You’re going to introduce him like a speaker before a conference presentation, where you list his accolades, and where he went to school. 

Shreya: I’ve actually written a few lines, okay? Do not mock me.

Millie: I’ve got my little conference cup of tea, ready to hear the speaker. Give me the keynote please.

Shreya: Well, actually. I thought, instead of writing something all by myself, I would let East London-based high fashion boutique Drake’s say a few words first.

Millie: The foremost authority on waffling poetically about Tobias Menzies. Just give them the job, they know what they’re doing.

Shreya: I need the phone number of whoever wrote the copy for Drake’s, and we need to have words, because either they’re smoking the good stuff, or they have a direct neural link to my brain. Either way, I need more information. But okay, here’s a selection of phrases from the Drake’s website, where Tobias Menzies has modelled seasonal essentials and, most recently, sunglasses

  • “A little bit louche, but with a certain sense of elegance, too.”
  • “Refined in their styling, but push[es] the envelope just slightly”
  • “Steely intensity”
  • “Inscrutable appeal”
  • “One of our finest stage and screen actors” 

And that’s just for the sunglasses. There’s more! 

  • “One of our foremost film and TV actors”, a variation on the theme.
  • “Inimitable presence” 
  • “Quiet intensity” 

Like, who is this person? I need to know. But they are correct.

Millie: They exposed themselves with ‘inscrutable appeal’. I got lost in the word cloud, but that really suggested they themselves don’t know what he has. Which, as someone who is just slightly outside the impact crater of the Tobias Menzies Appeal — I’m in it, I’m slipping slowly under gravity, but I wasn’t inside the impact itself — but that’s where I’m at. It’s like, I don’t exactly know what he has, but by God, he does have it, doesn’t he? 

Shreya: He has it in vast and undefined quantities.

Millie: You don’t need £250 pound sunglasses. I don’t. In fact, sunglasses are the one item I cannot buy good ones of because by definition, you just take them off when you get to places. Put them down and leave them there. I have lost two pairs of Ray-Bans, I don’t deserve sunglasses more expensive than the five quid ones you buy from the chemist. But boy howdy I need these £250 green Prue Leith Bake-Off wannabe sunglasses.

Fig. 2. Tobias Menzies vs. Prue Leith. Only one grande dame can win. And it will be the one who isn’t a Tory.

Shreya: Okay, this is the introduction. I mean, you heard it from Drake’s. But Tobias Menzies is basically a British icon. I mean, not quite an icon? I feel like he occupies this liminal space between niche and mainstream, and he does that quite deliberately. Sort of affording himself a bit of privacy, but then also giving himself the leverage to be picky with his roles. He’s starred in shows such as The Terror, This Way Up, Rome, The Crown, Game of Thrones, Black Mirror, Catastrophe, and a certain time-traveling romance soap that we are not going to name in this conversation. It may be referenced, but it shall not be named. Because I refuse to do so. 

He’s also a prolific theatre actor. The History Boys, Hamlet, The Fever, The Illiad, Uncle Vanya, and The Hunt. Man is prolific!

Millie: You don’t think you know something he has been in, but you do, is the defining characteristic. He’s prolific in many things, but tasteful, delicate in his selection of roles. Man has taste. As we know from his £250 sunglasses.

Shreya: Man has taste, except for The Show That Must Not Be Named.

Millie: Look, a broken clock is right twice a day. It’s also wrong a whole bunch. You know, we all make mistakes. If our mistakes are time-travelling romances, these things happen. At least you make mistakes on location, with nice scenery. I like to make all my mistakes in scenic locations.

Shreya: I agree with you, he chooses his mistakes well, we will give him that.

I do want to spend a little more time here, because I want to talk about what you alluded to as the Tobias Menzies impact crater, and why we’re doing this at all. So, Millie, for you it started with The Terror.

Millie: No! It started with This Way Up. It started with The Terror in the sense that I think you needed to ease me into it. You wanted me to watch The Terror and you were like, no, that’s too hard a sell. Let’s slide her a nice approachable Channel 4 romantic comedy that explores themes of mental health. And then, when I’ve got her hooked, when I’ve got her desensitized to his beautiful visage, then we’ll drop her into the Arctic Circle, with the lead poisoning and the scurvy.

But yeah, I would say The Terror is where things truly went from bad to worse. As it did for everyone on that show.

Shreya: It just warms my heart when I get my hook into people and drag them into my Vortex of Shame and Despair and Tobias Menzies. 

Millie: Shreya has carefully avoided mentioning her own role in this. She’s put it on to me like, ‘oh you started watching that, right?’, as if she was not part of a prolonged campaign advocating, nay, preaching the good book that is enjoyment of the works and properties of Mr. Menzies. The word you used before was ‘deranged’ which I think is very unfair to yourself, because if it was deranged you wouldn’t have picked someone who’s so good.

It’s the meme that’s like ‘I could fix him’. I couldn’t fix him. But I could release him back into the wild and let him fly off to where he should be, unaffected by human influences.

Shreya: Much like Mr. Menzies, I also have good taste. 

I love this, because we’ve joked that there’s always a third presence, the ghost of Tobias Menzies, on our calls, and now we are explicitly inviting that presence over the threshold like a vampire. But no, I will spend a bit of time on some deranged Menzies-related things that I’ve done.

  • Put him on my Google Alerts
  • Bought myself a pair of glasses styled after his character Frank Randall, in the Show That Must Not Be Named
  • Transcribed a 40 minute interview on theater and acting with him and Rupert Goold
  • Aggressively planned the steps that I would take to smoke a joint with him
Fig. 3. Shreya’s workplan to smoke a joint with Tobias Menzies.

Shreya: I mean, I think it really comes down to that I just want good things for him, that’s why I want him to be in Paddington 3. I just think he deserves that.

‘Deserving’ being a really loaded word. But for someone like me, in the very middle of that impact crater you describe, I think his appeal for me started with; right, he’s good-looking; he seems to have a sense of humor; let’s see how far this rabbit hole goes. One YouTube interview led to another, like a gateway drug. But his biggest appeal for me personally, though he has many appeals, is the aura of awkwardness and vulnerability and painful self-awareness he gives off in every interview he does. He’s just one of those actors who says so little, and he makes you fond of him to the point where you want him to have his own life. To the point of, ‘I am so fond of you, you win, I don’t want to know anything more about you.’ I think that’s so incredibly endearing.

Millie: It’s the meme that’s like ‘I could fix him’. I couldn’t fix him. But I could release him back into the wild and let him fly off to where he should be, unaffected by human influences.

Shreya: That’s it, that’s it! How does he do it? He drip feeds us, he gives us nothing. His social media is bare, he never posts, he never self promotes. Not using social media is just so incredibly attractive in a celebrity. Like, celebrities who don’t speak. More of them.

Millie: Keep your mouth shut, I don’t want to hear from you, I don’t need to know about your life. He is both the wire mother and the cloth mother.

Shreya: The duality, the inherent contradiction. The inscrutable appeal — as Drake’s said — of Tobias Menzies.

I tried to think why he’s good for Paddington and I don’t think there’s a deep reason, I just think he’d enjoy it and I think he’d be really good at it, because he’s a really good actor. That’s basically what it comes down to for me.

Millie: I would like him to be able to dial up to the camp just a little bit, as is necessary for Paddington. And I think he has the range!

Fig. 4. Channel 4’s Black Mirror, 2×03. One could speculate that Tobias Menzies (far left in frame, far right Conservative party member Liam Monroe in character) has a natural affinity for media properties with cartoon bears

Shreya: Darling, he has the range. I also specifically think of Paddington as one of these British icons, like James Bond and Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who. All of these are characters who in recent years are undergoing reinventions (Lashana Lynch being the first black 007, Jodie Whittaker being the first woman Doctor Who, etc.). I think that if Paddington 3 continues to push that reinvention and does what it’s already doing so well, creating such a moving immigrant narrative, I think Tobias Menzies — who on the face of it is a very British guy, but probably has very un-British notions in his head, what with small ‘r’ republicanism, Free Assange, and all of that — I just think it would be very fun for him to be part of a property like this. Instead of the fucking Crown.

Millie: Again, I am the centre seat of the political spectrum, and we are creating impact on both the aisle and the window.

Shreya: Okay. So I’m ready to get into it.

FRAMEWORKS

Millie: Before we do, I have prepared a primer — I’m just going to send you via Whatsapp a diagram I’ve made, an analytically sound diagram. The title of this figure is ‘Good Paddington Character’.

Fig. 5. Venn diagram of a Good Paddington Character.

Shreya: This is genius because Tobias Menzies is a rounded rectangle. Already I’m seeing where he fits bang into the middle of all this, I love this.

Millie: He’s made of shapes! And he needs to be made of shapes! Hugh Bonneville? Made of shapes! He’s a rectangle.

Shreya: Sally Hawkins, inverted triangle.

Millie: They’re all made of shapes! Peter Capaldi is pointy like a big long stretchy diamond.

And then the rest is all set dressing, that’s not important. I mean, it is — these are important components of why I think characters are successful. I think we’ve crossed out ‘Made of shapes’, that’s self explanatory, but ‘Distinctive style of dress’ kind of comes hand in hand with ‘Stereotype’. It’s the kind cultural shorthand that works well in Paddington partly because it’s a children’s film, that allows you to go straight into the stock box character; ‘this is the slightly kooky mum’, ‘this is the really straight laced dad who’s forgotten how to have fun and how to be connect with others’, ‘this is the evil guy’, they’re initially played very straight and it’s off of those that you’re able to develop and change them while being able to immediately connect with what you’re meant to be getting out of it.

And that I think works particularly well because they often come with some default connotations of how they appear. Say if you’re the policeman, you probably have the characteristics of the policeman — air quotes, whatever you want those to be, fill in the blanks yourself — but you also have a set outfit that comes with that and that comes with its own charm and visual language and allows you to Wes Anderson it up as much as you want.

And I think playing with those three, you’ve got all the ingredients you need. It is just where you go from there, how you stylisze it. So there is my diagram, that’s my scientific analysis. My PhD has done its job in this conversation.

Shreya: I love that, I think you’re so right with that framework and what it lends to the character, where they fit, and how they interact with Paddington. I have a list-based framework, which is not as big brained as yours, but that’s only because I haven’t done my doctoral program yet.

Which is that the characters around Paddington tend to be largely of six types;

  • Family 
  • Friend 
  • Accomplice, with subtypes 
    • Appreciative
    • Hostile
  • Spectator (neutral)
  • Enemy 

Millie: I would like you to make a uQuiz, please, that sorts me into which of the six Paddington roles I fulfill.

Shreya: I’m on it, I’m making one in the background, on a chugging word processor which has a hastily thrown blanket over it.

So this was my struggle while thinking of which role Tobias Menzies would play in Paddington. You can approach it in so many ways. There’s the way that we were initially discussing, which is focused on the bear’s journey and from there see where Tobias Menzies fits in. There’s another way that says, let’s look at roles that Tobias Menzies does remarkably well and have him play to his strengths. There’s a third way that says, I am personally deranged and horny and would like to see Tobias Menzies as naked as possible. And then you work backwards from there, like well what one kind of role would that look like.

Millie: What is in the middle of the Venn diagram of ‘naked and horny’, ‘repressed upper class Brit’, and ‘blank’?

Shreya: I think this episode is an inquiry into that intersection. Maybe we will find one.

I would like Paddington waving the sickle and the hammer, riding on top of a horde of dissatisfied factory workers out into the sunlight, meeting a line of policemen with water cannons led by Tobias Menzies at the front.

SCENARIO 1, MILLIE

Millie: So I think we should go turn by turn. My first thought — well, looking at my notes you can see how my brain was slowly devolving, decaying like the half life of a radioactive particle, as I shed brain cells line by line. 

I was looking at centering the character, taking the Paddington-driven quest and the self actualization of him knowing who he is, but that he has been put into situations where he has to assert those values and consequently enact positive change on other people. Other people being, of course, Tobias Menzies who — because he plays a, to quote my mother, ‘slightly suspicious and snakey presence’ quite so well — must initially present that and then over the course of his role you slowly understand the humanity and the layers and the nuance comes out.

And so I was looking out what situations we can put Paddington in where he has to assert a strong moral stance. Initially I wanted to create an Aunt Lucy piece, because I know we both felt that Aunt Lucy got unfairly shafted in Paddington 2, only then I realized that I basically accidentally wrote him into Ben Stiller’s role in Happy Gilmore which, if you’ve seen it, is a really rough choice. Makes him horrible to Aunt Lucy and we’re not going there. She doesn’t deserve that and he wouldn’t do that. So. Moving on.

Fig. 6. Ben Stiller as Hal L., the sadistic orderly running the nursing home in Happy Gilmore (1996) dir. Dennis Dugan.

Millie: My first concept was that, after the events of Paddington 2 and his international fame of being in the newspapers, Paddington becomes quite famous and his marmalade recipe is by extension now also famous. Tobias Menzies is the chef who wants Paddington’s marmalade recipe; he is the iconic outfit, Gordon Ramsay, angry, popular celebrity chef, but who is shallow and doesn’t connect with the emotional core of the Paddington marmalade recipe. 

So either he could want the recipe and Paddington is withholding it, but then I thought, no: Paddington is absolutely anti intellectual property rights, he wants to spread it widely so everyone can share and make their marmalade with joy. So Tobias Menzies just doesn’t ‘get’ that the secret ingredient to Paddington’s marmalade is love and he just can’t get it right, or perhaps he is trying to stop Paddington from sharing the recipe, so that he can have exclusive rights to this famous prison liberating marmalade. [pause] Shreya has absolutely lost it on the other end of our call.

Shreya: I have turned red, this is brilliant. This is also very Old Guard-esque as well, and so relevant by the way for our current times with the vaccine! This fucker, who has no fucking right to this marmalde, tries to copyright it anyway.

Millie: Yup.

Shreya: When it was a publicly-sourced, publicly-invested-in recipe! But he wants it for his own profit. I fucking love that.

Millie: And if you want you could do a kind of deep post-arc redemption for Nicole Kidman in the sense that it’s actually her family’s marmalade recipe, and she’s had offscreen character growth and wants to better herself. She’s come to the realization that ‘no actually, this is my family recipe, I can do what I want with that’.

And along those lines, you could also have — note, this is where I get really off kilter, you can see the degrading train of thought — Paddington, because he’s a sweet trusting bear, unwittingly sells and signs away the rights to his marmalade recipe. The marmalade is then being manufactured in a soulless factory that doesn’t understand it, with unethical business practices, and Paddington spends a portion of the film trying to prevent this from happening and Tobias Menzies plays the union buster.

I told you we were getting Marxist here! Paddington 3 is our new manifesto.

Shreya: Oh my God, oh my God. We will do away with privatized marmalade.

Millie: The bears own the means of production.

Shreya: Exactly dude, I love this. I think he would be, as you said, so good in that role of union buster, like sly and slinky? I imagine that — and this often happens, I think, with Paddington meeting villains — Paddington’s initial instinct is to see the best in them, and as a character he toggles between childlike fascination with people but then also has very adult capabilities of telling people where the buck stops and giving them that Hard Stare. 

I would like Paddington waving the sickle and the hammer, riding on top of a horde of dissatisfied factory workers out into the sunlight, meeting a line of policemen with water cannons led by Tobias Menzies at the front.

Fig. 7. товарищ паддингтон. The hat is red; for the workers, and for freedom. 

Millie: But they’re comical water cannons though, they’re not like actually serious water cannons because of course it’s a children’s film and you can’t present the harsh realities of police brutality to children, so instead they’re all like water pistols in this kind of whimsical Wes Anderson sort of way. ‘Cause he’s a bear. You can’t deploy police weapons on a bear, you can’t violate the Geneva Convention on Paddington Bear, that’s not a good look.

Shreya: Not a good look, but Tobias Menzies’s union buster is finding a way.

Millie: As you said, I think he would want to see the best in his villain, and there’s so much potential in that role in that they’re not someone who’s cut from stock, not an evil-evil villain? I’m about to refer to the other Franchise That Won’t Be Named, the kind of Dolores Umbridge-y villain, the villain that you know. He’s not an evil person who wants to kill bears but he is the villain in your workplace who thinks that you shouldn’t get paid lunch breaks.

Shreya: That is the humanity to a villain that Tobias Menzies would be so good at bringing. We already know how thoughtful he is. As his collaborator Rupert Goolding said once, he turns everything over in a ‘beetle-like’ way, and he’s really rigorous with interrogating the script. In this scenario, I imagine Menzies might be someone who started at the factory floor, and got promoted up the chain, and before he knew it, became a union buster!

Millie: Because he worked for it, because that’s the so-called British story. ‘We are all able to do that, and you should be able to pull yourself up by your bootstraps!’ But then you’re also confronted with the opposite, the derision around the immigrants, or you know, ‘the young ones just get it all handed to them’. But why be harsh with joy? You should spread joy, and spread access to growth, both material and also metaphorical growth. You should be able be free and not be weighed down by bitterness. Embrace yourself. Embrace the marmalade. It’s warm, and sweet. Be like marmalade.

Anyway, I can continue on my slow devolution, but I think it’s your turn. You go.

SCENARIO 2, SHREYA

Shreya: I was going to start with the scenario I’ve titled, Paddington Becomes A Member Of The LGBTQ+ Community, but because we’re on the Marxist train, let’s continue with that.

You spoke about how Paddington 2 was a plot driven largely by the Macguffin of the pop-up book, but it does somewhat touch upon questions of like, will Paddington’s chosen family be there for him? Will his community be there for him? Does he believe they will? Reading Angela Smith’s ‘Paddington Bear: A Case Study of Immigration and Otherness’ got me thinking about the balance Paddington strikes as someone who, by all observable qualities, assimilates really well in British society. He’s cute. He’s got the hat and the coat. He’s very polite, he’s very good. But balancing that with Paddington’s pride of being an immigrant who comes from Darkest Peru, what that means to him, how that influences him — I think that would be cool to see.

So, in terms of villains. Because we’re still looking at Tobias Menzies as a villain in Paddington 3.

Millie: We have not come up with a single role for him where he is not the villain, which I think is very fun. We saw that man and said ‘is anyone going to make him evil?’ and did not wait for an answer.

Shreya: There are no small parts for Mr. Menzies, he’s that kind of actor. But the villain is the juiciest.

So okay, we’ve got a taxidermist in the first movie, we’ve got a failed actor in the second movie. The natural step for the third movie is, obviously, a former mining company CEO turned philanthropist.

Millie: [pretending to cough] Elon Musk. Elon Musk.

Shreya: Exactly. And here I think Tobias Menzies would be, you know, taking cues from the toxic males of Hitchcock films, such as Mr. Bates. And his first name is Gil. And he runs The Gil Bates Foundation.

So I approached it from the total opposite direction as you, Millie. Even though I agree the emotional journey should come first — and this is why I shouldn’t make children’s stories — I’m a Marxist, I love propaganda. So I was thinking about what is the political story that I’d want to see. I would really want Paddington confronting his own image as a model minority, and the circumstances that brought him to Britain. So I’m thinking about a future where Paddington gets really famous. And you have Gil Bates, who owns a lot of property in Darkest Peru and is trying to get it ship-shape and open for tourism. And he thinks, how can I make this scheme palatable? Oh my god, I’m going to have Paddington bear be the poster child. 

So, in the beginning Paddington is swept up by the PR machine. And obviously, he loves his home, it’s his entryway back to Aunt Lucy and all of his childhood memories, so he’s like, yes, of course I’ll promote your tourism plan.

But then things take a dark turn, and Paddington finds out what exactly this plan means, what it’s covering up, and he finds out that Gil Bates had several mining operations in and around Darkest Peru. Which caused the earthquake  —

Millie: NO! 

Shreya: — in Paddington 1!

Millie: Oh my gosh. That’s so good. I mean it’s terrible, and it just ripped my heart out, but it’s so good.

Shreya: Yes! I think not only do we need to confront the idea of being kind to strangers who land up at our door, but we need to interrogate why they’re landing up at our door in the first place.

I think Tobias Menzies would pull off Gil Bates. I also think being an evil-former-CEO-turned-philanthropist is such good comedy material? I would love to see him throw staplers at interns. Have caviar with every piece of toast. Just have five hundred Hermes scarves in his cupboard.

Millie: Every time the camera pans back to him, it’s a different Hermes scarf.

Shreya: So that’s my ultimate evil guy. And I think that Gil Bates genuinely believes that he is doing something good for Darkest Peru. I think he genuinely thinks, if we don’t go there, someone else will go there. If we don’t mine there, someone else will mine there. At least this way, we’re bringing jobs, et cetera, and all those lovely justifications, which for him are real.

Another admirable quality of Paddington Bear is that he’s very clear-sighted. Because of who he is, he doesn’t really understand all these British — and by extension — capitalistic notions of what it is to interact with other human beings, and be a member of society. So I think the minute it comes down to that, Paddington sees through all the bullshit. And then it’s an Okja sort of climax — how do we stop this whole operation from going down? Sabotaging it from the inside, and also sabotaging the PR campaign from the outside. Paddington is like, at a conference table arrayed with a million reporters who all have the mic in his face, and Tobias Menzies, Succession finale style, is watching at home like Logan Roy, thinking Paddington is going to toe the line. And then Paddington goes off. 

Millie: ‘Look What You Made Me Do’ is playing in the background, as Paddington is sat on three stacked-up phone books, as he gently, in the kindest, sweetest voice, explains that this is not right! You shouldn’t do this! And people instantly fold, confronted with — not just overly simplified, though it is a children’s film with a talking bear — the most consolidated and cutting version that appeals to your humanity, and the viewer’s humanity, and Tobias Menzies’s humanity, about what is good and right.

It’s actually really harsh that he could be redeemed in the plot of this story, though, because he did very much cause the destruction of Paddington’s home. And you can’t undo that, because –! Pardon me, I’m getting emotional. The actions you take part in are complex, and go beyond being resolved in a single film. Are you making the Paddington Bear Cinematic Universe (PBCU) here? Because I think you are. 

Shreya: Yeah you’re right, it’s a hard one, but I think it’s in the spirit of you bringing back, for instance, Nicole Kidman character from Paddington 1. It’s in the spirit of Paddington and the left tradition, that all human beings have reformatory potential, and we should give them another chance! And spread class consciousness!

[Note: In the PBCU, Gil Bates gets another chance only after serving just lengthy sentences for various crimes against humanity; employing child labour in his supply chains; illegally destroying the common resources of the people of Darkest Peru, etc.]

SCENARIO 3, MILLIE

Millie: Anything we say after this is only going to detract from the political statement we think we’ve made with Paddington 3. Continuing in that vein, my next notes are, word for word, ‘nationalised slash formerly nationalised, RIP, or heavily unionised industries’. With the thought that they have an iconic outfit and are a cute character very easy to fit into the world, like a postman, or a train driver, or a London taxi cab driver. So I think I’ve finally come up with a role for him not to be the villain of the piece, and put him into one of your other six categories on the uQuiz / Paddington character type DnD alignment chart.

You could have him being somebody who helps Paddington on his journey in either a physical sense if he is a tube or cab driver, or otherwise in a metaphorical sense, and I like the idea that he can be a recurring character who appears multiple times, but every time you see him he grows a little bit and you get that sense of continuity. I also think him being a postman works towards your brief of ‘how can we allow it to be a bear-motivated story yet make him as naked as possible’ because, in the town where I grew up, all the local postmen used to have a competition to see who could wear the summer postman’s uniform of the little shorts for as late as possible in the year, and they took it dead fucking serious. So our postman would come round wearing short-shorts in —  I’m not kidding you — like, mid January, there would be snow on the ground, and he‘d be dragging the little postal trolley through a foot of snow and we’re signing for parcels like, come on, surely you don’t have to, and he’s like, “no the postman who does West Lane is still in the shorts and I can’t let him win.”

I think that’s as close as I can get to making him slightly horny, for you.

Additionally, I think this kind of role is the kind of thing you would get in a London tourist shop? Like you get a little guy in a beefeater costume, or a telephone box, or a London taxi cab, and that’s nice iconography. And you can have lots of other characters, other little helpers who have their own moments Love Actually-style in a multi-criss-crossy storyline, and you get a new character only to realise later that it’s all joined up and that Tobias Menzies’s postman is actually the friend of the guy who drives the red double decker bus who is played by Jared Harris. I think it would be fun to cram as much British iconography as you can into the piece, which allows you to make commentary on how Paddington fits into the real melting pot of London culture? One of the things that I really loved when I first watched the Paddington series was the music and the soundtrack — which, again, I think they do particularly well in Paddington 1, so unjustly victimised by Rotten Tomatoes — 

Shreya: Excluded from the upper echelons of Rotten Tomatoes.

Millie: Doesn’t deserve it. Does not deserve it. Because I really appreciate how the diegetic music is calypso? Multiculturalism is front and centre. And if you’re trying to cram in as many things that make it feel like London inherently you’re cramming in many things that make Paddington realize he is part of this place as well. Anyway, hashtag put Tobias Menzies in short-shorts.

Shreya: Retweet, retweet.

Shreya: Before this call I knew postmen would be part of the discussion, because of your beautiful Royal Mail boots. I was just wondering when they would come up, and I’m so happy they did.

Millie: I wanted to be a postman! I still think it would be the best job, I would give it all up to, to — you get to walk a lot! Be outside! You can take your dog with you, and they give you Doc Martens-produced air cushion sole shoes that have the Royal Mail logo embossed on the side. I can bring my own since I’ve already bought them. I just think it’s a sweet job, no one hates their postman. This is easily the most non-complex character Tobias Menzies would ever play and I love that for him.

He contains multitudes, and all of the multitudes are marmalade.

Shreya: If Tobias Menzies was my postman I’d be posting a letter every half an hour.

Millie: You’d be the 1950’s lady whose husband leaves her alone while he’s at work all day and you’re left to pine by the window for the postman, or fixate on the nice weatherman on the news who sounds like John Mullaney.

Shreya: Are we talking about me or you, Millie?

Millie: I’m fine, I woke up spooning my cat this morning. It’s fine. I’m fine I’m fine I’m fine.

Shreya: Given the postman-and-Royal-Mail-boots nexus, we can go a step further than manifesting TMWBIP3, and actually write an email to the costume designer of Paddington 3 and say we’ve got blueprints.

Millie: We have notes. We’ve got ideas. And we make it on the now defunct site Polyvore — is it now just defunct? You don’t see people use it anymore. Anyway, you could plan outfits and people would make high-concept ‘going to Disneyland with Niall’ kind of posts. We do that but all of the clothes are just the standard Royal Mail uniform.

Fig. 8. Template of a high-concept costume design that we would be happy to provide the creators of Paddington for Tobias Menzies as a postman.

SCENARIO 4, SHREYA 

Shreya: Okay, so this was in the vein of my Paddington Becomes A Radical sort of premise. I want to see him as a more fully realized character, I want to see him get angry a bit more, which we covered. I also want to see him do stuff that’s silly, like. I want to see him think he’s really good at spoken word poetry, but he’s not. You know? I want to see him make friends! I want to see him make friends with other immigrants, and the LGBTQ+ community, and Jewish and Muslim labour organisers, and the radical Irish. I want to see him do all of that. I want to see him fall in love! 

And so one of the things I was thinking about was — what if Paddington and Aunt Lucy were not the only surviving bears from Darkest Peru? What if they find another ‘wild’ bear from Darkest Peru, who does not speak English, is transported to Britain and held captive. He’s not eating, he doesn’t know how to speak English, and Paddington enters at that point to help this other bear eat and adjust to society. But it’s very difficult. Paddington sees that even though he thinks that he and this new bear are so alike, people treat them very differently. Why is that? 

I think Tobias Menzies could play an ornery zookeeper tending to the new bear. Just a zookeeper with his sleeves rolled up, I think.

Millie: Short-shorts supremacy is back.

Shreya: I think Tobias Menzies would also do well playing the boring academic type, like, “this is what Peruvian bears need to eat. They need a diet of lettuce, and tomatoes,” and blah blah, and Paddington is like, “Sir, marmalade.” “No. Not that.” “But marmalade though!”

Millie: Paddington navigates the peer review process to publish his two-page paper, one of those really petty scientific papers that’s just dragging another paper, that’s saying, ‘actually I have first-hand sources, citation, me.’ 

I think you could have Tobias Menzies lean into — just a nice role! And as you say, playing up to the fuddy-duddy stuffiness. Put him in his £250 sunglasses, his oatmeal cable-knit jumper. Just let him be! That’s his natural environment, I think, and that’s why it’s such an interesting commentary for him to tell Paddington about Paddington’s natural environment. Paddington has been able to assimilate so neatly into London — partly on the strength of being lucky enough to find a family that’s accepting, which again makes a comment on how much of success is derived by luck — 

Shreya: Luck right at the beginning too, in meeting Montgomery Clyde and learning English. 

Millie: — and you contrast that with the if-you-just-pull-yourself-up narrative, as if people aren’t already trying their best, and it isn’t just reflective of external circumstances, and it’s also like. Anyone can succeed if they have help! If people are kind, and try to reach out, and connect to them. See humanity in your fellow bear. Oh. I think this one, more so than all the others — which are quite literally very radical — this one would make me cry the most. Quite easily.

Shreya: Yeah. I didn’t think about this too deeply, but that scientist / dietician character — I mean, so much commentary possible over there around ‘evidence based policy’, and how that can ignore lived realities. As a STEM major, you probably have thoughts on this.

Millie: I have many thoughts. The extent that information gets published in academic journals and the circles around them, and we all talk and nod and agree and say, that’s absolutely correct — and yet you don’t make an effort to distribute that information to people on the ground, the ones to whom it matters, well. Well, you’re all just sitting in a room and talking!

And being able to deconstruct how self-obsessed people who think they know better are, being confronted with the actual humanity / bearanity? Ursuranity? Of the reality that these are not just academic concepts. This is a bear! He has a soul! 

Shreya: He is a living breathing bear. He is not an automaton. Insert Jane Eyre monologue, insert Taako from The Adventure Zone monologue. 

Fig. 9. Excerpt from the screenplay of Jane Eyre (2011), dir. Cary Fukunaga 

Millie: He contains multitudes, and all of the multitudes are marmalade. Oh, that’s nice.

I will say, in reference to my cutting and prescient analysis, the scientist character doesn’t necessarily have an iconic outfit. We can make an iconic outfit! It can become iconic! With his little button up shirt and his little glasses and his oatmeal jumper.

If he is a zookeeper, with his nice rolled-up sleeves and his short-shorts, I wonder if he has one of those little elastic key things that come off the belt?

Shreya: He totally has a fanny pack.

Millie: He does!

Shreya: He does.

Millie: He’s that person who has everything in a seemingly bottomless bag. It’s like, oh, I would love a granola bar. Here you go. I want some chapstick. Here you go. I would like some ibuprofen. Here you go. I need some hand sanitizer. Here you go. He’s so prepared. He’s so tight-laced. 

Shreya: And when Paddington’s finished his emergency sandwich and goes, God I wish I had a marmalade sandwich. And zookeeper Tobias Menzies is like, here you go. And dun dun dun, Paddington has his gay awakening. 

SCENARIO 5, SHREYA

Millie: Paddington becomes a member of the LGBTQ+ community!

Shreya: Should we quickly go into that? It’s very brief and I’d rather just riff with you on it. 

So firstly the rightness of it. Paddington is voiced by Ben Whishaw, lest we forget, a gay icon. Two things. One. Paddington wants to be the first bear drag queen. Cue a lot of ‘bear’ puns. E.g. ‘only twinks can be drag queens’, and so on. Sorry! I did not think this through. But this would give us the chance to see Tobias Menzies as Paddington’s drag queen mentor / drag mother. Which would be incredible. He’s halfway there with James Fitzjames in The Terror.

Fig. 10. AMC’s The Terror, 1×06. James Fitzjames plans to burn down the dance floor at Carnivale.

Millie: Giving the people what they want! I am not the greatest Drag Race consumer, it’s one of those things so many people in my life tell me to watch, so I won’t, by sheer force of will. But even I know that the big queens always get out in the first couple of rounds, they always tend to be the most talented ones, or ones with the most heart, or ones that have been in the game for the longest, but suddenly get turfed out against these new queens. I think you could do so much with Paddington understanding it, but not having the talent? Additionally, he’s very short. The idea of him going down the runway and coming up to like everyone’s knee-height is so funny. 

I would love to see him play out the courtroom drama that we got little morsels of in Paddington 2. Have him be put on trial for public indecency, or something that’s heavily gay-coded.

Shreya: He’s barely bipedal, so the idea of him in heels is. Yeah. The comic potential. 

Millie: What song does Paddington lip-sync to for his life? My heart’s going, ‘The Village People’. Or ‘The Bare Necessities’! 

Shreya: The Bear Necessities, oh that’s such a good one. Shut up. Shut your face. I love that.

Millie: The Bear Necessities, but he turns the dial up on the kind of funk-ness of it, and it goes kind of burlesque. Like, [sultry singing] look for the…bear! Necessities! You get the picture. I think that would be nice. I would like that. 

Shreya: He has a rap verse in the middle of it that’s in Peruvian bear tongue. No one understands it, but it sounds hardcore.

Okay, so that was my first LGBTQ+ scenario, and I think that we could bring a lot of real life drag queens into this scenario as well, from the local scene of course, but also legends like Lawrence Chaney, Scottish drag royalty and winner of season two of UK’s Drag Race. I think she’d do excellently in a cameo. 

My other scenario was — and this I don’t like too much, because I think in all the movies so far, Paddington occupies this role where he’s unjustly persecuted for something he didn’t do. And, in reality, in the source material and stuff, he actually stirs a lot of shit and gets away with it, which I find much better. But, to continue the persecution train. I would love to see him play out the courtroom drama that we got little morsels of in Paddington 2. Have him be put on trial for public indecency, or something that’s heavily gay-coded.

Fig. 11. AMC’s The Terror, 1×04. In the PBCU Franklin Expedition of 1845, Paddington is flogged thirty lashes as a bear for the crimes of insubordination, neglect of duty, disrespect, and dirtiness (marmalade under paw nails).

Shreya: Tobias Menzies would either be the stuffy barrister representing the Crown, who is prosecuting Paddington as if he is Oscar Wilde, or the kindly former AIDS-activist pro-bono lawyer who defends Paddington.

Millie: I am almost in tears.

Shreya: In either case, I think Daniel Kaluuya should be the other lawyer.

Millie: So good. See the first thing that came to my mind, as you were saying that, is that in the UK they’re updating all of our bank notes to introduce new security features and they’re putting Alan Turing on the £50 one. Which made me make the delightful comment in the style of Jaboukie Young, that the British Government really said ‘just because we killed Alan Turing doesn’t mean we can’t miss him’. Turing’s Law which retrospectively pardoned gay people punished for their sexuality only came out in 2017.

So it’s Paddington’s Law! It’s Paddington’s Law now, which protects bears unfairly persecuted for the crimes of being bears, a thing that they cannot help and, in fact, adds richness and texture to our lives.

I also think your amazing headline of — which I’m kind of giving an It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia title card in my head — of ‘Paddington Becomes A Member of the LGBTQ+ Community’ is so amazing, but I guess the question is, is it more funny and does it do more for it to just be subtext, or is Paddington literally gay. Because I can’t help but enjoy that also. Again, not pushed too far, not pushed too far — but there is another bear in the PBCU, and Paddington is a bear.

Fig 12. It’s Always Sunny In Windsor Gardens.

Shreya: I would love for it to be textual, and I think it’s what Paddington deserves. And I think if again he brought his sort of Peruvian perspective to that, like if he started dating a boy bear and everyone went, oh my God Paddington, and he was like, “what, is that not done here? What’s up with you guys. You guys — Mr. Brown, you’ve never kissed a guy before? What the hell. How do things run in Britain.”

Millie: Everyone has a phase where they kiss boy bears, Mr. Brown! It’s normal.

Shreya: It’s normal! And Hugh Bonneville does a perfect impression of someone who is battling an ulcer forming in his stomach. I just think he would play that scene so well. And I know that Mrs. Brown gives him the strap.

Millie: Oh, see, I was about to say that you know Mrs. Brown then comments, “what is wrong with you, Mr. Brown! I had a girlfriend in university!” at which point Mr. Brown just loses his mind. 

But by the end of it Mr. Brown has bi-wife-syndrome and he is incredibly supportive both of his bi wife and of Paddington Bear.

MISC CHARACTERS, MILLIE

Shreya: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I think that’s the end of my notes, at least? I have a bunch of notes for miscellaneous characters.

Millie: I am in the miscellaneous character section of my notes also. I actually went down a weird rabbit hole based on the fact that a few days before we had this call I genuinely had a full plot for Paddington 3 come to me in a dream, which involved him regenerating the failing economy of a fallen-from-grace seaside town. Skegness or Eastbourne, these towns which have kind of decayed since their heyday in the Victorian era through the 50s, and are full of young people with social deprivation or really aging populations which are just going to fall completely into disarray and disrespect. And I really liked the idea of him regenerating the local economy. Maybe he makes marmalade-flavoured Mr. Whippy, and you get fun bits with seagulls trying to come in and steal all of his ice cream! 

The British seaside is a really wonderful pastiche and I just think it could be quite fun, particularly because sequels always do that thing where they say, we’re going to take them to another place! We’re going to take them to Europe! We’re going to — is why Ocean’s 12 is terrible, and then in Ocean’s 13 they said no go back to Las Vegas, that was where it was interesting. So I think that’ll be fun!  You can put them in another kind of iconic setting, one he understands being from a backwater place, or from a place which has not benefited from the same development and investment as London. And then actually that exposes how where he came from and indeed all those places have their own heart in a way that has to a degree been obscured by big business and development. Tobias Menzies can run an ice cream van. That’s my next one, that’s all I’ve got for you.

Shreya: I’m going to ignore the Ocean’s 12 slander.

Millie: Ocean’s 12 is not good! It’s way too complicated, they completely forgot what made Ocean’s 11 sexy, which was them all doing a big heist. They got too carried away and then you can tell it’s not good, because they immediately ignore that it ever existed. Ocean’s 13 they’re like, “hey where’s your girlfriends? Uuuuuuh don’t pay attention to that, don’t pay attention to that.”

Shreya: Okay, but, but the scene where Catherine Zeta Jones escapes from the bathroom — or was that Brad Pitt? I don’t know, but they play L’Appuntamento over it. That’s a beautiful song. I’ll give them that, they had good taste in score.

Millie: I just don’t like the really weasley French man. And he knows that he’s weasley, because I’m fairly certain that’s what they call him. Or is he the ferret? [Note: He’s actually the ‘Night Fox’] He’s not a very good character, or he — Tobias Menzies could play him. He could play a cat burglar.

Really doing any European accent is a question of do you shoot and just miss, or do you aim for the moon and land amongst the stars?

MISC CHARACTERS, SHREYA

Shreya: Yes, yes he could. And he could make it good, that’s right. My miscellaneous characters sort of go on with your thread, Millie, of how sequels always try to go to new locations. You had a lot more socio-economic richness to your justification of Brighton? I didn’t have that. I was just like, Paris. Let’s do Paris and see what jumps out, what sticks on the wall.

So to your idea of ‘Gordon Ramsay chef’ I raise you, ‘French finicky very gay chef’. I had this vision of chopped vegetables on a cutting board and Tobias Menzies stooping down to eye-level with the cutting board, one nostril enlarged and sniffing all the ingredients from left to right. That’s really in my head. 

That would play into a plotline where Paddingon really wants to be a chef and he is shit at it. And the French chef tries and tries to teach him, but it just doesn’t take. And maybe that can be a thing of Paddington thinking he needs to be a productive member of society, but fuck productivity! You bring happiness and joy and you clean people’s windows and you help people study for their exams! You don’t need to be an earning member of society just for the sake of it!

So that could be one. The other French character I was thinking of is just a campy gay aristocrat who doesn’t do anything. The kind who would greet you in his living room wearing a sheer dressing gown and be like, “oh, pardonnes me, I’m en deshabille, mon plaisir to meet you”, that kind of a thing. Those are my two Paris-centric ideas.

Millie: I think the latter will provide you some good visual gags because he absolutely has a little cigarette holder that Paddington simply does not understand. Paddington puts two of them up his nostrils. Yeah, he’s got that sexy French depression and with his smoky room — we’re back in the writers room, get the typewriter sound effect — he’s in his boudoir, which has got beautiful wainscoting, and Tobias Menzies is drinking red wine. He offers Paddington a grape juice and Paddington sips his grape juice with a little bendy straw.

I also do think the chef idea is particularly fun. When you said he was at a cutting board I assumed that he was going to get a ruler out and individually measure each slice. I love that, and I think it’d be nice because Paddington could be feeling — not necessarily that he has to become a productive member of society, but that he has to do things in a certain way to fit in and to be loved, to have his family respect him and have people respect him with his newfound responsibility as a proprietor of prison liberating marmalade. And we’re not doing a Ratatouille here, but I think he does have to learn that he has to cook with his heart, be intrinsic rather than extrinsic. The self actualization journey of which we spoke. 

Also, the idea of making Tobias Menzies — who is already a very tall man — so tall with the poofy chef’s hat that he can’t get through doorways? Very good, really good visual comedy.

Shreya: I love that. Also him doing a French accent. I think he’d crush it.

Millie: Does he crush it? Or does he purposely do a really bad French accent?

Shreya: I can’t. Dude, the Mr. Gruber character from Paddington 1 and 2, that French accent was so bad it almost took me out of the movie. Blessings and love to the actor, who also played The Minister for Magic in the Franchise That Shall Not Be Named, but that was not a good accent, sir.

And you’re supposed to be Hungarian, by the way. You are not French. Stop this.

Millie: Really doing any European accent is a question of do you shoot and just miss, or do you aim for the moon and land amongst the stars? I’m just going to jumble some vowels in my mouth, like I’m putting them through a Nutribullet, they’ll just fall out in whatever order they come.

Shreya: Yeah. I love what you said about the intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation. One thing I really enjoyed when reading Paddington At Large, which is the only Paddington book I have read, is that Paddington tries to make marmalade [Correction: once again, this was toffee, not marmalade. We apologise for our erasure of non-marmalade products from the PBCU] and he fails miserably. Which is just kind of really nice? Like that’s something he’s really into and he’s not even that good at it. I like that.

Millie: As a comment on the gig economy, you shouldn’t have to monetize your hobbies and the things that bring you joy! They should bring you joy, first and foremost. 

FINAL NOTE, MILLIE

Millie: Now I would just like to sign off with my final note, which has its own bullet point: literally just himself.

Like David Hasselhoff in the Spongebob movie, he’s just himself. He just rocks up and Paddington is like, “oh! That’s famed British stage and screen actor Tobias Menzies!”

Shreya: [over excited crosstalk] Go ahead.

Millie: No that’s it. That’s the bullet point. Just himself.

Shreya: Genuinely… my admiration and respect for you right now. This is the Occam’s Razor –! We just spent an hour talking about something that you solved with a single bullet point.

But oh my God, yes. And Paddington, because he doesn’t understand television yet, thinks that Tobias Menzies is Prince Phillip. He says, “sir!” and now he’s trying to curtsy, he’s trying to bow, but then he’s also like, aren’t you supposed to be dead like, what the fuck is going on. I would love that.

Millie: I suppose my question is, does he play a role in the plot where he is Tobias Menzies? And he’s just… there? Like in one of the other plots we mentioned, maybe his bear cousin needs to learn how to speak better, and they look at some different speech therapists, and stumble across this one nice man who seems to be able to teach them how to orate quite well and clearly to an audience. They think, that’s nice! 

And then it’s not mentioned at all, only then he gives Paddington his business card, and it just says T. Menzies on the bottom. That’s it! That’s all we need!

Shreya: Keep it really clean, keep it subtle. Show, don’t tell.

Fig. 13. American Psycho (2000), dir. Mary Harron. “Let’s see Tobias Menzies’s card.”

Millie: That’s the end of my notes.

Shreya: And that’s the end of mine, I think that’s an excellent note to end our thing on. Millie, it has been a pleasure. I feel absolutely wrung out. I feel so wrung out that I think I’m going to be a liberal for the next few days, just to balance the energies out. 

Millie: I mean, the time difference means I have a whole day I need to get through now. How am I meant to go through my day? I’ve exhausted every fiber of my being. I poured so much love into this, I’m full of —

If you’re listening to this, anyone who has any authority on the casting, direction or production of Paddington 3: give us a call. But not in the next 15 to 20 minutes. Because I think I need to go have a nap.


Shreya is a 23 year-old from India. She enjoys writing and making people miserable with her very good taste in media. You can read more of her work on her Substack.

2 thoughts on “Tobias Menzies Will Be In Paddington 3

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