Rat’s the way to do it...

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A TAXIDERMIST has more reason than most to be looking forward to the release of a new US smash-hit film.

Hartlepool man Kevin Wilmot will be watching world-famous director Steven Spielberg’s new movie War Horse very closely when it hits UK cinema screens on January 13.

Kevin Wilmot.

Kevin Wilmot.

For the 49-year-old was responsible for stuffing 40 rats for the epic production, which raked in $15m dollars in just two days after it was released in the States on Christmas Day.

But Kevin, who spent two hours on each rat, will be paying for his own cinema ticket when the film comes to British screens next month.

The film is based on a novel that tells the story of a boy and his thoroughbred horse who are caught up in the First World War and stars Jeremy Irvine, Peter Mullan, David Thewlis, Emily Watson and Benedict Cumberbatch.

Kevin said: “They told me it’s coming out in January and I’m looking forward to seeing it actually.

“I will go and see it when it’s out, probably straight away.”

He joked: “I’ll just be looking at the rats!

“But seriously, it’s meant to be a fantastic movie. I have been told by the guys I have been working with in London we will really enjoy watching it, and that it’s a bit of a saddie.”

Kevin, who is married to Paula, 47, and whose work has also featured in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and various viking films, said movies are “big business” in the recession as cinema-going is a cheap night out.

He revealed he has been asked by the same company who approached him for War Horse to stuff two wild boars for an as-yet unknown film.

Kevin, who has not owned a TV for 18 years but watches DVDs, said his work has also been seen in adverts but added: “Half of the stuff, I don’t even know which film it goes in.

“I just do it to order.

“I have some work in adverts, but I haven’t got a telly so I haven’t seen it.”

Kevin, who has his taxidermy base in Greatham, where he has lived for 24 years, has been in the business for 30 years and says his popularity with movie-makers is through word of mouth.

“I have met people from all over the world,” added Kevin, who is dad to Marie, 24, Shasti, 22, and Zipporah, 18, who helps out with the business.

He added that the taxidermy will also take him to France, as he has been offered work on the continent.

He said his ultimate aim is to eventually open a taxidermy business in London.

Kevin, who owns various properties in Hartlepool, is also looking at setting up a building company in the new year.