Sir Ben Kingsley became yet another British star to make his Comic-Con debut as he joined a Focus Features panel to promote Laika Entertainment’s The Boxtrolls on Saturday.

“This is only my third or fourth animation,” said Kingsley, whose entry drew loud applause, particularly after the MC referenced his role in Iron Man 3.

“It was very liberating to depend upon my voice to bring this extraordinary creature to life…I did most of my recordings lying down to allow the voice to come from a different place.”

Laika’s third feature after Oscar nominees Coraline and ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls is a period tale based on Alan Snow’s book Here Be Monsters!

The story takes place in a Dickensian-looking town where an orphaned boy was raised by a tribe of subterranean foragers targeted by an ambitious pest exterminator.

Kingsley plays said exterminator Archibald Snatcher, who deliberately demonises the harmless Boxtrolls to further his own cause.

When asked why he hired Kingsley, Laika president and CEO and lead animator Travis Knight said: “Uh, Sexy Beast. We love him. No no no no no!

“We needed somebody who could be scary and who could bring a bit of soul and some comedy as well.”

Knight and co-directors Anthony Stacchi and Graham Annable presented eight minutes of footage in all. The stop-motion sequences delighted the crowd and would already appear to be a strong animation awards contender.

Kingsley added: “I always try to find the little crack that makes a character vulnerable and build on that.”

Isaac Hemsptead Wright stars alongside Elle Fanning and there is comic relief from Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Tracy Morgan.

The cast recorded Hall H attendees as they sent a message of goodwill to Morgan, who is recovering following a recent car accident.

The Boxtrolls opens on September 26.