James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, and Ashley Jensen, have joined the voice cast of the 3D, CG-animated family comedy, Arthur Christmas. The highly anticipated film, produced by Aardman Animations for Sony Pictures Animation, is slated for release November 23, 2011.
Set on Christmas night, the story of Arthur Christmas at last reveals the incredible, never-before seen answer to every child’s question: ‘So how does Santa deliver all those presents in one night?’ The answer: Santa’s exhilarating, ultra-high-tech operation hidden beneath the North Pole. But at the heart of the film is a story with the ingredients of a Christmas classic — a family in a state of comic dysfunction and an unlikely hero, Arthur, with an urgent mission that must be completed before Christmas morning dawns.
McAvoy leads the cast as Arthur, the good-natured but clumsy younger son of Santa. Arthur LOVES everything to do with Christmas; indeed, he is the only one in his family still captivated by the magic of the holiday. Laurie will play Arthur’s older brother Steve, heir to the reins, a cool, incredibly capable guy who has given the North Pole high-tech efficiency, military-style precision. Broadbent plays Santa, who pictures himself as the guy in charge at the North Pole, but is now more of a figurehead as the operation has outgrown him. Nighy plays Santa’s 136-year-old father, Grandsanta, a cranky old codger who hates the modern world, is always grumbling that Christmas ‘was better when I was Santa’ and has a tense relationship with Steve, who he calls ‘A postman with a spaceship.’ Jensen will play Bryony, a lowly elf from the Giftwrap Battalion, with an eager-to-please attitude and an obsession with wrapping and bows. Imelda Staunton rounds out the cast as Mrs. Santa, dedicated wife and mother to her husband and sons.
The director of Arthur Christmas is Sarah Smith. The screenplay is by Peter Baynham and Sarah Smith. Barry Cook is Co-Director. Producer is Steve Pegram. Production Designer is Evgeni Tomov. Executive Producers are Carla Shelley, Peter Lord and David Sproxton. Michael Giacchino and Adam Cohen are the composers.
Commenting on the announcement, Smith said, “We are thrilled to have assembled such a phenomenal group of actors for Arthur Christmas. Not only are they all terrifically funny, charming and characterful but they have also brought an emotional subtlety and depth that gives the film great heart.”
JAMES McAVOY played the iconic role of Mr. Tumnus the Faun in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which became a global phenomenon, making over $700 million worldwide and helping him win the Rising Star Award at the 2006 BAFTAs. He then played the lead in the award-winningThe Last King of Scotland alongside Forest Whitaker, and was nominated for a BAFTA, a BIFA (British Independent Film Award), a European Film Award and a London Critics Circle Award. He next starred inAtonement, which earned him Golden Globe and BAFTA Best Actor nominations and won him Best Actor awards at the London Film Critics Circle Awards and the Empire Awards. He went on to play the lead role in the global smash hit Wanted, alongside Morgan Freeman and Angelina Jolie and directed by Timur Bekmambetov, and most recently starred opposite Helen Mirren and Christopher Plumber in The Last Station, based on the life of Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy. His many other film and television credits include “Regeneration,” “Band of Brothers,” “Children of Dune,” “State of Play,” Bright Young Things, “Shameless,” Starter for Ten, Becoming Jane, and Rory O’Shea Was Here, for which he was nominated in the British Actor of the Year category at the 2005 London Critics Circle Awards. He will soon appear in Robert Redford’s The Conspirator and in Wanted 2, and his voice will be heard in the animated featureGnomeo and Juliet. McAvoy is currently filming the role of Charles Xavier in X-Men: First Class. Directed by Matthew Vaughn, filming began in the UK in September 2010 and the film is slated for a summer 2011 release.
HUGH LAURIE currently stars in FOX’s hit medical drama “House,” for which he has won two Golden Globe Awards and two Screen Actors Guild Awards and been nominated for five Emmy Awards. The seventh season of the hit show will debut this fall. Laurie previously starred in a number of groundbreaking British television comedy series, including four seasons of “A Bit of Fry and Laurie,” which he co-wrote for the BBC with Stephen Fry; three seasons of “Blackadder,” written by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton; and three seasons of “Saturday Live.” In addition, four seasons of “Jeeves and Wooster,” based on the novels of P.G. Wodehouse, aired on PBS’s “Masterpiece Theatre” from 1990-1995. On the big screen, Laurie was most recently seen in Flight of the Phoenix and Street Kings. His voice was heard in the animated hitMonsters vs. Aliens. Other film credits include Peter’s Friends, Sense and Sensibility, Cousin Bette, The Man in the Iron Mask, 101 Dalmatians, Stuart Little, and Stuart Little 2.
On American television, Laurie portrayed Vincente Minnelli opposite Judy Davis in the network telefilm “Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows.” He also appeared in “Tracy Takes On” and “Friends.”
JIM BROADBENT’s touching performance as Iris Murdoch’s patient and long-suffering husband John Bayley in Iris earned him the Academy AwardÂ® and Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor. His many other feature film credits include Little Voice, Topsy Turvy, Moulin Rouge!, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Gangs of New York, The Gathering Storm, Nicholas Nickleby, Bright Young Things, Vanity Fair, Vera Drake, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, The Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Hot Fuzz,Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Inkheart, The Young Victoria, Harry Potter and theHalf-Blood Prince, and The Damned United. For television, he starred in “Longford,” which earned him the TV BAFTA for Best Actor. His extensive theatre and television work includes National Theatre productions of Martin McDonagh’s “The Pillowman” and the stage adaptation of “Theatre of Blood,” Jimmy McGovern’s “The Street” for ITV, and the BBC’s “Einstein and Eddington.”
BILL NIGHY’S many film credits include The Boat that Rocked, Glorious 39, Wild Target, G-Force,Valkyrie, Underworld, Love Actually, The Girl in the Cafe, Notes on a Scandal, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Constant Gardener, and Chalet Girl. Television credits include “Absolute Hell,” “The Men’s Room,” “State of Play,” “The lost Prince,” and “Gideon’s Daughter.” Theatre credits include “Map of the World,” “Pravda,” “King Lear,” “Skylight,” “Arcadia,” “Blue/Orange,” “Betrayal,” “A Kind of Alaska,” and “The Vertical Hour.”
IMELDA STAUNTON as an Academy AwardÂ® and Golden Globe Award nominee for her performance in the title role of Mike Leigh’s Vera Drake, which also earned her a BAFTA Award, among other honors. Her many film credits include Alice in Wonderland, Taking Woodstock, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Shakespeare in Love, Nanny McPhee, Much Ado About Nothing, Peter’s Friends, Twelfth Night,Freedom Writers, Crush, Bright Young Things, and Antonia and Jane. Her voice was heard in Chicken Run.
Her television credits include starring in the series “Up the Garden Path,” “Little Britain” (during the third season), and “Big and Small.” She was a member of the repertory cast of the television series “Thompson,” with Emma Thompson, Kenneth Branagh, and Robbie Coltrane; and has starred in such notable miniseries and telefilms as “The Singing Detective” (written by Dennis Potter), “David Copperfield,” “The Wind in the Willows,” “Fingersmith,” and, most recently, “Cranford.” On stage, she has won two Olivier Awards, for Alan Ayckbourn’s National Theatre staging of his play “A Chorus of Disapproval,” and for Richard Jones’ staging of Stephen Sondheim’s musical “Into the Woods.” Ms Staunton was also an Olivier Award nominee for her performance in Richard Eyre’s Royal National Theatre staging of “Guys and Dolls.”
ASHLEY JENSEN’s breakout performance came as the loveable loser Maggie Jacobs on the BBC/HBO series, “Extras,” in which she stars opposite Ricky Gervais. For her work in “Extras,” she has received two British Comedy Awards (Best Actress, Best Newcomer), the Golden Rose of Montreaux award, Best Actress at the Monte Carlo International Television Festival, Glamour Magazine’s Comedy Woman of the Year award and she was nominated for a BAFTA and Emmy award. Other notable television work includes ABC hit drama “Ugly Betty” and the new CBS comedy series, “Accidentally on Purpose.”
Jensen’s film credits include Topsy Turvy for director Mike Leigh and Tristram Shandy, opposite Steve Coogan, for director Michael Winterbottom. She recently completed production on television drama “The Reckoning” will next begin production opposite Maggie Gyllenhaal in new feature film Hysteria. Her voice will be heard in Gnomeo and Juliet and in Aardman Animations’/Sony Pictures Animation’s The Pirates!