Accents are strange, and by the time an actor is into his teens, the accent he develops generally stays with him through life. But it is possible to change the accent consciously, nevertheless, and a number of actors have portrayed the same on screen.
It takes a lot to transform one’s accent to meet the requirements of a movie role. We can come across a number of examples wherein actors have been voice coached in order to transform their predominantly American English accent to a British English accent. A few of the top amongst those include Renée Zellweger in Bridget Jones’s Diary, Johnny Depp in Finding Neverland, and Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love.
Among the list, the accent Rene Zellweger used to have in Bridget Jones Diary is often cited to be the all time best English accent delivered by an American actress. Barbara Berkery has voice coached a few of the top Hollywood actors in order to get their accents just right, such that the British English accent comes by naturally and flawlessly.
Berkery says that transforming an actor’s accent calls for expenditure of time, because an actor’s voice is a centralized part of the personality. One tends to resist changes of any sorts.
In order to get the accent right for Bridget Jones’s Diary, Berkery and Zellweger had five weeks to work upon getting Zellweger’s accent right. They spent the time coaching.
The voice coach and the actor used to do verbal exercises during mornings. English has eight diphthongs and twelve pure vowels, but the pronunciations are different in British and American English. During the mornings, Berkery and Zellweger would together attempt to get the pronunciations right.
When the afternoon came, it was time for field work. They’d go all around London and test their accent.
The approach over time delivered rich dividends. There is more to an accent than just the sounds. It must sound true to a viewer.
Berkery says that shadow moves is another aspect of accents, and are unique for each different accent. She says that an accent is not something that one merely hears, but it is something that one sees as well.
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