In the new comedy movie, Mel plays a clinically depressed man who uses a beaver puppet with a British accent to communicate in the film, and director Jodie Foster has revealed the actor modelled his voice on his ‘Edge of Darkness’ co-star Ray.

Jodie said: “Mel did a movie ‘Edge of Darkness’ with Ray and he kept calling him during the shoot and saying, ‘How would I say this?’ It was very specifically Ray Winstone and sort of Michael Caine on speed … I’d love to take the credit for Mel’s performances but he was amazing from day one.”

Jodie has also admitted Mel’s recent troubles – including pleading guilty to a charge of battery relating to his ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva earlier this year – had adversely affected the movie.

She told Total Film magazine: “We did change the release date three times so that right there has already affected the film. Would I have liked it to come out for his Oscar consideration? Absolutely. It’s incredibly hard on him – so much that it’s impossible for him to talk about it.

“It’s been difficult for marketing to figure out how they’re supposed to present the movie. I don’t envy them.”