When news broke that Mel Gibson had signed on to play a man who becomes obsessed with a beaver hand-puppet in a new film, many thought it must be a joke.
But snaps of the Braveheart star jogging round upstate New York this week with his character's furry friend on his arm show The Beaver is 100 per cent real.
In the comedy Mel - who is expecting his first child with new girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva - plays Walter Black, a perpetually depressed middle-aged man who has tried everything to brighten his mood, but to no avail.
At his lowest point Walter's subconscious splits, with one half manifesting itself through the hand puppet.
Rather than carting himself off to a psychiatrist, Walter listens to the beaver's advice - and begins to turn his life around.
The quirky flick is being directed by Jodie Foster, who also plays Mel's on-screen wife.
Based on early readings of the script critics are already saying the film – which hits cinemas next year – "has the potential to be bizarrely great".
The script for the movie has previously attracted the attention of a number of Hollywood names, including Jim Carrey and Steve Carell.