Given the troubling year Mel Gibson has just had (see: those tapes, the domestic abuse charge… ), it’s easy to cringe at the thought of the actor playing a clinically depressed man who keeps failing at suicide. But there’s a wacky twist to The Beaver, the deadly serious Jodie Foster-directed dramedy coming May 20: Gibson wears a talking puppet on his left hand throughout most of the film. “He’s kind of got this East End British accent,” Gibson says about his puppet’s voice. “It’s my best Ray Winstone.”

To prepare for the role, Gibson got in touch with his inner method actor. “I’d put the puppet on and go to the dry cleaner and stuff,” he told EW on the set in October 2009. “The beaver would talk to people: ‘Could you alter my suits?’ The way people would react to it — they don’t know who to look at. They’d wonder if there was a reality TV camera around.”

For more on The Beaver and 100 other summer movies, check out Entertainment Weekly‘s Summer Movie Preview issue, on newsstands now.