Plagued by his own demons, Walter Black (Gibson) was once a successful toy executive and family man who now suffers from depression. No matter what he tries, Walter can’t seem to get himself back on track…until a beaver hand puppet enters his life.
Walter finds the beaver puppet in a dumpster outside a liquor store where he usually tanks up on booze and winds up wearing it on his left arm. Emerging from what had seemed like a terminal stupor, he begins speaking through the hand puppet, at first to himself, then to everyone else. Through the beaver, Walter begins to turn his life around. He reconnects with his family, and revives the fortunes of his ailing toy company. But it all comes at a price.
“Walter Black and the beaver had to be somebody who could fully understand and communicate comedy and tragedy at the same time,” says Jodie Foster, who directs and co-stars in the film.
Producer Steve Golin knew that it would take a star to play Walter, not just because of the depth and complexity of the role, which could be a tour de force for any actor, but for logistical reasons as well. “These kinds of pictures that fall beyond the realm of conventional storytelling are very, very difficult to get going,” Golin says. “They’re difficult to get made even with stars but almost impossible without them.”