Colin Firth has left StudioCanal’s Paddington Bear project midway through production.

“After a period of denial, we’ve chosen ‘conscious uncoupling,’” the actor said in a statement to Entertainment Weekly, riffing on the phrase used by Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow when they recently announced their separation.

Firth, who won the best actor Oscar for The King’s Speech in 2011, continued: “It’s been bittersweet to see this delightful creature take shape and come to the sad realisation that he simply doesn’t have my voice.

“I’ve had the joy of seeing most of the film and it’s going to be quite wonderful. I still feel rather protective of this bear and I’m pestering them all with suggestions for finding a voice worthy of him.”

StudioCanal will still release the film in the UK on November 28, while The Weinstein Company has set a December 25 US release.

Director Paul King said the split was amicable and a replacement was underway.

The film also stars Nicole Kidman, Judi Dench, Sally Hawkins and Peter Capaldi.