James Corden has hit out at “snobby” critics who claim Beatrix Potter would not have liked the newly released live action Peter Rabbit film.
The actor and talk show host has lent his voice to the famous animal in its first big screen depiction.
Asked about the mixed reaction to the adaptation, Corden said: “I sort of felt some reticence about doing it when I got offered it simply because of what it means to so many people in this country and across the world.
“But then when the Beatrix Potter estate (gave permission), who have turned down I think maybe over 20 proposals, even Walt Disney at one point wanted to make a Peter Rabbit film and they felt it didn’t capture the essence of the character and this script did.”
The film marks the first time the Potter estate has given permission to adapt the story for the big screen and some have said the author, who died in 1943, would not have been impressed by the result.
Critic Matthew Dennison, who wrote a Beatrix Potter biography in 2016, told The Guardian: “Peter Rabbit emerges as a bully, and there really isn’t any evidence for that in the story.”
Speaking at the London premiere of Peter Rabbit, Corden said the live action film was a faithful adaptation of Potter’s work.
“What I love most about what Will (Gluck, the writer and director) has done and I think the Beatrix Potter estate responded to is there is so many small vignettes across the film that he has taken from all of those books,” he said.
“At its core, at its actual core, what the film is about, aside from all the big comic set pieces and the brilliant soundtrack and the animation is wonderful, what the film is actually about is acceptance.
“It’s about going ‘people will look different to you and sound different to you and be different to you and actually if you accept your differences you will find lots of similarities’.
“What people do is go ‘I’m going to put up a wall and this is mine and that is yours and you don’t come in here’ and actually what you should do is open your arms and go ‘well I don’t look like you or understand you but perhaps we can find some common ground’.
“That is what the film is actually about, so anyone who is being what I would consider snobby about such an experience, I can’t find anything that can be anything other than positive in such a message for young children.”
Star Wars actress Daisy Ridley, who voices Cottontail, also said she believed Potter would have been pleased with the film.
She said: “I think Beatrix Potter would first be gobsmacked that it had become the success it has and the fact that they (the estate) believed in this script says a lot, because obviously her family knew her.
“I think she would be thrilled, I think it shows all of the character that we know and love in a different sort of setting and there are bits that the original books are animated within and it’s beautiful.”
Peter Rabbit hits UK cinemas on Friday.