Movie Accents — Erik Singer on Actors Playing Real People
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I am always fascinated by accents, in real life and in movies and I love to hear people who can switch from one to another. I was most recently very impressed with the Appalachian accents in “Logan Lucky,” especially Daniel Craig.
In this video from Wired, dialect/accent/linguistics expert Erik Singer talks about actors who take on one of the most difficult challenges of all, “ideolects,” not just a regional or class-related accent but the specific way a particular individual speaks, from Steve Jobs and Muhammad Ali to Ray Charles or Jacqueline Kennedy. We know the way these iconic figures sound. It takes a very talented and dedicated actor to get the details so right that we barely notice and can just focus on the performance.
There was the dry, husky voice that hinted at a million smoked Gauloises. There were the dark eyes, carnal and enigmatic. There was the brooding, slightly downward curve of her lips, a sultry pout that could flash capriciously into a beguiling smile. She was playful and dangerous….Critics and audiences found Ms. Moreau spellbinding, particularly in roles in which she embodied liberated sexuality or in which her outward composure masked boundless complexity. Movie scholar David Shipman once described her as the “art-house love goddess.”
She exemplified the French “New Wave” of filmmaking, intimate and provocative. One of her best-remembered performances is in “Jules and Jim,” the story of a love triangle. She enchanted her audience the way her character enchanted her two co-stars.
A.O. Scott talks about the film here, calling Moreau “incomparably alluring.”
We mourn the passing of June Foray, just shy of her 100th birthday. You might not have heard of her, but I am certain you heard her voice, or, I should say, her voices. She was one of the most versatile actresses in Hollywood history. She provided the voice of Rocky the Flying Squirrel, Natasha the spy, and Dudley Do-right’s Nell Fenwick. She played Tweetie Bird’s owner, Granny and Cindy Lou Who. She appeared in “Mulan,” “The Flintstones,” “Scooby-Doo,” “Rugrats,” and “The Twilight Zone” (playing a creepy talking doll). She was also Chatty Cathy, a somewhat less creepy talking doll. She was Jokey Smurf. Animation expert Mark Evanier wrote:
Most of all, she was June Foray, a talented workaholic who for decades, drove into Hollywood every weekday early in the morning and went from recording session to recording session until well after dark. Everyone hired her because she was always on time, always professional and what she did was always good. It was her good friend, director Chuck Jones who said, “June Foray is not the female Mel Blanc. Mel Blanc is the male June Foray.”
Haben: Film is very visual. Deaf culture and American Sign Language are very visual, too. Do you think being Deaf gives you an advantage over hearing actors?
CJ: Oh, that’s an interesting question. Well, Haben, it is not about being hearing or Deaf, it is not about being black or white, it is not about labels. It’s about talent, integrity, uniqueness, and passion. I got the role because I demonstrated that I have the talent the director was looking for. I fit his vision. He was very happy that he made the right decision hiring an authentic Deaf actor.
We mourn the loss of Oscar-winning actor Martin Landau, who died on July 16, 2017 at age 89. His career goes back to the legendary years of the Actors Studio, where his classmates included Steve McQueen. He rode motorcycles with James Dean and appeared with Cary Grant and James Mason in Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest.
In the 1960’s, he and then-wife Barbara Bain starred in the hugely popular television series Mission Impossible.
He won an Oscar for a wonderfully witty portrayal of real-life horror movie star Bela Lugosi, making his final film with worst-director-ever Ed Wood, played by Johnny Depp.