updated 04/26/2012 AT 6:00 PM ET
•originally published 04/27/2012 AT 8:00 AM ET
Move over, Johnny Depp: There’s an even nuttier pirate captain hitting Hollywood’s high seas.
For the new movie Pirates! Band of Misfits, Hugh Grant took on his first animated role – and enjoyed the perks of voice work. “It was nice not to have to sit in makeup at 5 in the morning,” he says. “I do feel bored of that.”
Did he wear pajamas to work? “As ever,” he cracks, “I was elegantly and appropriately dressed.”
Still, playing an unhinged captain trying to whip a ship full of not-exactly-cutthroat pirates into shape was a challenge. “I was never properly trained so I don’t use my diaphragm to shout,” Grant says. “I would go hoarse and they’d have to send me home. I used to lose my voice after about 20 minutes.”
Grant, 51, knew right away that he had to participate in the movie, created by the studio behind the Wallace and Gromit films, despite his decision to take some time off from acting for a while. (He last appeared onscreen in 2009’s Did You Hear About the Morgans?) “It was just so clever and bonkers, and sort of Monty Python-ish,” he says.
“This humor was right in his sweet spot,” explains Peter Lord, who directed the movie. “It’s just the sort of thing he knows well.”
Enough to get carried away. “There was a camera on me and I’ve seen the footage,” he says. “I’m overacting so violently that they had to tone it down [in the animated version]. I think it would have frightened the children.”
While Grant signed on to do the film before the birth of his daughter Tabitha last fall, the actor is excited to show it to her one day.
“It’s nice to think that one day my daughter may see it, may love it,” he says.
For more about Hugh Grant’s turn in “Pirates!” – and the new chapter in his life – pick up next week’s issue of PEOPLE, on stands May 4