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5 Actors Speak on Learning New Accents

Perfecting a whole new accent for a role must be tough, especially if it’s one you’re just not familiar with – these 5 actors have commented on learning a new accent, explaining how it can be so difficult to get right and many of them had to work with a special dialect coach until they figured out how to speak in a whole new way. Some almost decided to quit the role because it seemed so difficult, while others spent years working on their accent to get it just right!

Idris Elba


Idris says that when he first tried to crack America, his American accent was so bad he couldn’t work for years: “Mastering an American accent was my most difficult challenge. It took me three years to get it right. It seemed to me the ultimate test was to convince real Americans I was one of them – so I’d climb into a cab and try to pass myself off as an American. Cab drivers tended to fall for it. It was harder to convince in social situations. Women would look at me suspiciously and ask where I was really from. For those three years, every day was an exam day. Some days I passed, some days I didn’t. By the time I came to audition for The Wire, I was able to pass myself off as an actor from Brooklyn.”

Johnny Depp

Johnny had to adopt a Scottish accent for ‘Finding Neverland’ but says that at first, he thought it might be impossible:  “Musically, rhythmically, I initially couldn’t quite get a hold of it. Luckily I found this dialect coach who helped me out.”

Liam Hemsworth


Australian actor Liam says he has been working on his American accent for most of his career: “It’s not easy. I did a film just before I came to America, in an American accent. So I’ve worked with an accent coach before, and I worked with an accent coach on ‘The Last Song’ as well. I do a lot of work with it. And we grow up with more than half of our television being American TV, and we watch a lot of the same movies that you guys do. It definitely takes work, but I’ve done it my whole life.”

Naomi Watts

Australian actress Naomi had to perfect Princess Diana’s British accent and says she spoke in a very particular way: “I was very nervous about the accent. She had a very distinct voice – she came from aristocracy so she was quite posh, but there was a warmth there, too. Her accent wasn’t too ‘fruity’. She also had this thing where the bottom half of her face didn’t move that much.”

Toni Collette

Toni had to master a very specific Irish accent and said she found it tough: “Glassland was filmed in a part of Dublin with a very specific accent. I loved the script but I was very nervous about doing the accent. I arrived on the set and sat down with a dialect coach and turned myself into a knot. I actually called my husband and cried and said, ‘I cannot do this, I think they are going to have to re-cast’. It freaked me out so much but I relaxed and just did it. I was at least consistent!”