If you want to do Benedict Cumberbatch is sad, only mentions Max, the adorable canine companion of the unpleasant Grinch.

"It's those cute puppy eyes, it's about the eyes," says Cumberbatch, who plays the green-skinned creature who hates Christmas in the new animated movie "The Grinch" (now in theaters). "Max is the best dog in the world, let alone the best companion of the Grinch, anyone should be so lucky to have a Max in his life."

Animator Chuck Jones made Max a major player in the 1966 television special "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" (which airs on Friday on NBC). The dog has played an important role in the live action movie of 2000, along with Jim Carrey's Grinch.

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In the new blockbuster "The Grinch", the central role of Max is even more developed. He continues to suffer most of Mr. Grinch's bad moods, but receives a more disconsolate love from his bad tempered teacher.

"If it were not for Max, Grinch's heart would not be too small, it would not exist," says director Scott Mosier. "The Grinch loves the dog, it's just not so open with that love, but you can see there's someone in there."

Maybe it's just that Max is a good dog. But in the movie, Max shows that there must be something good in the Grinch under all those crunchy layers.

"Max sees something that the public does not see, he knows this guy," says Mosier. "It's that unconditional love that makes Max so attractive."

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