Screenwriter John August is on the defensive aboot some remarks he made aboot Canadian actors not being able to hide their accents:
Just because I say something is different, doesn’t mean I’m saying it’s wrong. There’s nothing “right” about the various American accents. But if a character is supposed to be from a specific place in the U.S., his accent should reflect that.
True dat. August’s original post was on the merits of not cottonballing your native tongue.
My friend is making a short film and brought over a tape of some auditions last night. There was an Irish guy who probably would’ve had a great audition if he’d just let his natural accent fly. Some people have an ear for accents and an ability to mimic them. I’ve studied dialects and the IPA alphabet, so it’s something I’m keen on. I can tell when an Irish lilt is dropping through. If I can tell, I have to assume at least some of the audience can tell too.
So here’s the deal, actors. Unless you’ve had your put-on accent confirmed by a dialect coach, do the part in your natural accent. Maybe the writer and director will like what they hear:
The two roles are written as Americans, but Jordan and I are both more than willing to change the backstories to accommodate Britons, Australians or other nationalities.
Then, go ahead and try it in Brooklynese (or whatever it is written as) and warn the auditors that it may not be perfect, but you’re willing to practice it till it’s dead on. Most accents have to be practised. I would hope above-the-liners (writers, producers, directors, casting agents) know this.
The end of my story… well, no luck-of-the-Irish for the Irishman. (He also did the whole audition sitting down, which to me is severely handicapping yourself. I’ve only seen one great be-chaired performance, and that was the woman who did the Homebody monologue in New York. She had the advantage of Tony Kushner’s words and two years of practice.) The Irish dude was an interesting character, told some great stories and was charming; you can bet my friend and his producer will remember him for other projects. Maybe by then he won’t be clumsy-cloaking his heritage.