By Alice Baghdjian
LONDON (Reuters) - Together they foiled the villainous plot of a diamond-thieving penguin and saved a village from an enormous mutant rabbit, but the faithful canine star of Oscar-winning plasticine duo Wallace and Gromit was originally a cat, their creator has revealed.
British animator Nick Park said he had originally sketched out Gromit the cat as a feline foil for the eccentric, cheese-loving inventor Wallace.
"But when I came to model the cat out of clay, I just found a dog easier to make. With longer legs and a proper snout," Park said in an interview with Britain's Radio Times magazine ahead of an appearance by the quirky duo at the annual BBC Proms in London later this month.
"Plus, I had a packet of dog's noses from a craft shop on me...so Gromit became a dog," he said.
Park said he wanted the hound to be a "bouncy, extrovert character" but changed his plan when he realised it was too hard to move the clay around.
"I found it much easier just moving his brow...It gave him a personality, an inner, discerning mind. Suddenly he became a contrast; a child more intelligent than his father," he said.
The on-screen capers of the dim-witted Wallace and his silent but smart sidekick Gromit received critical acclaim and has earned Park a string of Oscars.
The 2005 full-length film, "Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were Rabbit," in which the plasticine pals solve the mystery of a gigantic mutant rabbit threatening to destroy a village's annual vegetable contest, was awarded an Oscar for best animated feature.
Park had previously won Oscars in the short film category with works featuring Wallace and Gromit -- "The Wrong Trousers" in 1993 and "A Close Shave" in 1995.
(Reporting by Alice Bagdjian, editing by Paul Casciato)