meryl streep

Actors With the Best Fake Accents in Films

Props, costumes, production sets, and CGI can only do so much to transport audiences to a different time and place; the rest of the work lies in the actor’s ability to truly inhabit a narrative, and invite the audience to believe their character and their milieu. Adopting a specific accent is one of those abilities that allows an actor to create a believable character, and while it may seem like a common enough challenge for an actor, excelling accents can be tough. Given the underestimated skill it takes to convincingly pull it off, it’s only fair to give credit where it’s due, so here’s a list of actors with the best fake accents in films:

Meryl Streep

Throughout her illustrious career, Streep has taken up more accents than the average person could recognize. However, her Polish accent in Sophie’s Choice was one of perfection. Being Meryl Streep, practicing lines with a dialect coach was not enough, so she took it upon herself to learn Polish (and German in the last few weeks before shooting!) for the role.

Not only did Streep manage to speak Polish in the film, she also flipped between English and German with a Polish accent.

“I thought if I learned to speak Polish, then the diphthongs and the sounds of that language would be in my mouth,” she said in an interview with Entertainment Tonight.

Another noteworthy Streep accent we just couldn’t leave out of the discussion was her Australian dialect for Lindy Chamberlain in A Cry in the Dark, the true story of a mother who lost her baby to a dingo (yep, the line “a dingo ate my baby” is, in fact, about a tragic true story).

The general consensus when it comes to mimicking the Australian accent is that it’s bloody hard (see what we did there?), and non-Australian actors who’ve tried it are almost always criticized for it. Streep, however, managed to take it up a notch. Not only did she study the Australian accent with a fine-toothed comb, but she also mimicked the New Zealand-born Chamberlain’s idiosyncratic enunciations -– a result she admits she “sweat bullets” trying to achieve.

Philip Seymour Hoffman

In the biographical film Capote, based on the life of Truman Capote, the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman shined in his portrayal of the famous journalist, winning him the Oscar for Best Actor.

Capote’s unique vocal inflection was incredibly difficult to impersonate without it becoming a parody, and according to dialect coach Erik Singer, Hoffman pulled it off exquisitely: “The accent is dead-on perfect, and it’s totally integrated. It’s integral to the character and what the actor is doing as the character.”

Leonardo DiCaprio

Not one to shy away from adopting accents in films, the Los Angeles native has adopted accents from all over the United States through several eras for his films, from a Brooklyn native in The Wolf of Wall Street or a mid-19th century Irish-Catholic in Gangs of New York.

What really impressed a vast majority of audiences, however, was DiCaprio’s flawless accent in Blood Diamond, where he portrayed a man from Rhodesia, or modern-day Zimbabwe.

As a South African critic put it for Vanity Fair, “Leo is unbelievable … I could believe that he was a South African (as Zimbabwe borders South Africa, the accents can be very similar). Leo gets every word right.”

Hugh Laurie

If you were shocked that Hugh Laurie is actually an Oxford-born Englishman, you can join the estimated 81 million viewers of House who watched him play a gifted, foul-mouthed American doctor for eight seasons and were none the wiser. Moreover, prior to being informed on Hugh Laurie’s nationality, House’s executive producer Bryan Singer was incredibly relieved to have finally found what he believed was an American actor, after auditioning so many foreigners who just didn’t sound right.

“When you’ve got this volume of dialogue and this kind of complexity of writing, you really want to find an American actor,” he told The Paley Center for Media before admitting his shock when told by the casting directors that Laurie was, in fact, British.

Laurie’s American accent was so flawless, Google manages to churn out an overwhelming amount of blog posts and discussion forums dedicated to variations of the words “Hugh Laurie,” “accents,” “American,” and “British.”

Idris Elba

The London-born actor, who in real life has a distinctive Hackney accent, has wowed critics and audiences with two particular accents worthy of a mention; first, when playing drug kingpin Stringer Bell from Baltimore in The Wire, and second, as Nelson Mandela in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.

To perfect his Baltimore accent, Elba admits to spending lots of time in a barbershop to familiarize himself with the slang and particular nuances exclusive to Baltimoreans. The result was virtually spot-on.

Perfecting the accent for Mandela, however, came with a little more intense, technical training, as Elba had to embody the specific vocal qualities of Mandela along with a South African accent.

His dialogue coach on the set of the film told The Telegraph that his accent “is one of the closest to the original I have heard. This, coupled with his great technical acting skill and considerable emotional resource, makes for a compelling and brilliant performance.”

Cate Blanchett

Though an Australian herself, Blanchett is renowned for her chameleon-like performances, accruing such a long list of accents you’d be forgiven for not knowing her true national origin without double-checking an interview. Even then some may be confused, as her own Australian accent has morphed; Her ability to instinctively pick up the accents she’s surrounded by in real life has become so habitual for the actress that she admits it’s “politically incorrect” and embarrasses her children much of the time.

Blanchett’s many memorable character accents range from 16th century British to Brooklyn-American, Southern-American, Irish, French, German, Ukrainian, and even Elvish — but from her long list of impressive vocal accomplishments, her remarkable impersonation of Katherine Hepburn in The Aviator deserves an honorable mention.

Director Martin Scorsese had been impressed by Blanchett’s precision and boldness since Elizabeth, and knew if anyone could take on such an iconic character it’d be her. As the New York Times described, “Hepburn’s distinctive voice, loud, clipped and with a pronounced upper-class New England accent … became crucial to her performance.”

Blanchett pulled it off so well, it won her the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

What are your favorite performances where an actor pulled off an impressive accent? Let us know in the comments below! Learn more about Acting for Film at the New York Film Academy.

Celebrate Fashion Week the Film-Lover’s Way

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New York Fashion Week is in full swing, which means fashion lovers all over are ready for their first look at anticipated trends and lines. Suspense and enthusiasm are high this year: Jimmy Choo celebrates their 20th anniversary; spring 2017 trends will be revealed from Tom Ford, Tommy Hilfiger, Marc Jacobs, Prada, and more. Glitterati, designers, celebrities, and students will pour over livestreaming photos and press releases. Professionals and students alike can check up on everything from the hottest runway photos to valuable interviews with top editors and designers in the business. With a full week and a packed schedule for each day, there’s no shortage of things to watch this year.

Of course, movie fans also have plenty to be excited about as the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival also launches in early September. Filmmakers and actors will be looking to make a name for themselves by showing off the projects they’ve been hard at work on. The festival also has plenty of star power as well, including movies featuring some of the best actors and actresses of today.

What better way to participate and celebrate the spirit of both these high-profile, taste-making events than with a list of excellent films that both champion and reveal the world of high fashion? Since we’re in the spirit of both fashion and filmmaking, we’ve created a round-up of movies that every fan of fashion and film should check out. Enjoy!

“The First Monday in May” (2016)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art curated its most-attended fashion gala ever with “China: Through the Looking Glass,” spearheaded by Anna Wintour. This documentary directed by Andrew Rossi offers intoxicating behind-the-scenes access. Viewers are transported to a rarified world, and it’s easy to see why “The First Monday in May” became an instant audience favorite. Passions clash and mingle between the elite of two separate but inextricably linked worlds: fashion and art.

“The September Issue” (2009)

This acclaimed documentary film gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the challenges and drama that come with producing a big fashion magazine. “The September Issue” focuses on editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and her crew as they scramble to produce the September 2007 issue of American Vogue magazine, the most important issue of the year.

A good number of renowned designers, models, and photographers from the fashion magazine world appear, including Coco Rocha, Patrick Demarchelier, John Charles Galliano, and more. The highlight of the film is the clashing yet symbiotic relationship between Grace Coddington, a model-turned-director, and the aggressive Anna Wintour.

“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961)

Despite releasing more than 50 years ago, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” continues to be regarded as one of the best fashion movies ever made. This beloved film stars the iconic Audrey Hepburn as an eccentric socialite obsessed with living a life of glamor and wealth.

“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” won two Academy Awards, had three nominations, and is worth watching for Hepburn’s outfits alone. Many of them set fashion trends that continue to this day, including her use of a little black dress for formal events.

“Prêt-à-Porter” (1994)

If you’re in the mood for a humorous take on the Parisian fashion industry and enjoy seeing the comical side of major film stars, “Prêt-à-Porter” (Ready to Wear) is a great choice. This satirical comedy film was shot during Paris Fashion Week and features an impressive number of international stars, designers, and models.

Although this film was actually a box office bomb, it’s worth checking out just for the star-studded cast alone. Starring roles and celebrity cameo appearances include Julia Roberts, Naomi Campbell, Rupert Everett, Cher, Sophia Loren, Christy Turlington, Marcello Mastroianni, Linda Evangelista, and dozens more. Of course, “Prêt-à-Porter” is probably best known for a famous catwalk scene that features several minutes of nude female models.

“The Devil Wears Prada” (2006)

David Frankel’s comedy drama starring Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway is arguably one of the most popular fashion movies of the last decade. The film, which is an adaptation of a book with the same name, tells the story of a naive fashion intern (Hathaway) trying to break into the New York fashion industry scene as the co-assistant of Miranda Priestly (Streep), an influential fashion magazine editor.

“The Devil Wears Prada” is a nod to the challenges that come with working in the fashion world, including the career hurdles, demands, and difficult people you might encounter. Streep’s character, a cruel and unrelenting fashion boss, is widely believed to be inspired by Anna Wintour, an icon in the fashion world known for her demanding personality.

“Confessions of a Shopaholic” (2009)

Based on Sophie Kinsella’s “Shopaholic” novels, this romantic comedy stars Isla Fisher as a shopaholic journalist and Hugh Dancy as her boss. Dancy’s character hires the young journalist and shopping addict to write columns in his magazine Successful Savings, which she does with instant success. However, to keep up her facade as a financial guru she must hide the fact that she is herself a compulsive shopper in massive debt.

“Confessions of a Shopaholic” is not meant to be an epic love story or profound look at the fashion magazine industry. Instead, it’s simply a charming movie that features all the dreamy fashion and aspirational moments you could ask for.

Let us know your favorite fashion films or fashion week moments in the comments below!