updated 07/28/2011 AT 8:00 AM ET
•originally published 07/28/2011 AT 9:00 AM ET
To play Gargamel, the villainous sorcerer determined to destroy the lovable Smurfs, Hank Azaria had to put on fake bushy eyebrows, practice his evil grin – and act alongside a cat.
“If I wasn’t a cat person before this film, I became one during the course of shooting,” Azaria tells PEOPLE of his feline costar, who plays Gargamel’s sidekick, Azrael. “One thing I can tell you about the cat? Cat’s a good kisser.”