US

A top movie actor reveals how he learns different accents

Domhnall Gleeson is one of the most versatile actors in the movie business, and you’d be hard pressed to find any performer in higher demand than him. His latest film is “The Little Stranger,” a gothic horror story based on the bestselling novel by Sarah Waters. This marks Gleeson’s second collaboration with director Lenny Abrahamson after “Frank” in 2014. The next year, Abrahamson directed “Room,” which landed him an Academy Award nomination for Best Director at the 2016 Oscars. Abrahamson turned to Gleeson to star in his follow-up, and if you check the actor’s IMDb page, it’s not hard to see why. Ever since his breakout role in 2010’s “Never Let Me Go,” Gleeson has become one of the most sought-after actors in the movie industry. His roles span the entire cinematic spectrum, with supporting efforts in blockbuster franchises like “Star Wars” and “Harry Potter,” to lead performances in dramas like “Ex Machina” and “Brooklyn,” as well as family fare like “Peter Rabbit.” Perhaps the reason that Gleeson might still be able to walk down the street without being deservedly mobbed by fans and paparazzi is that the 35-year-old Irishman exudes a chameleon-like ability to disappear into his characters. Much of this is rooted in his uncanny mastery of different accents. We asked Gleeson to reveal how he learns different accents for his roles. In the case of his most recent work in “The Little Stranger,” Gleeson says it was his most difficult assignment to date. “The Little Strangers” arrives in movie theatres on August 31. Following is a transcript of the video.General Hux: We’ll remember this, as the last day of the Republic!Moon: I always try to help out the law.Jim Farrell: We don’t really know anything of the rest of the world.Thomas McGregor: It was my fault, I take full responsibility.Caleb: So, let’s have a conversation.Ava: What would you like to know?Domhnall Gleeson: If it’s the right filmmaker, I’m willing to do anything. I’ll do two lines, or I’ll do the lead, or I’ll do something which isn’t flattering. Good filmmakers are the reason that I’m an actor at all. It’s because I love good films. So I think I’m also just willing to throw myself into whatever they need me to be for their movie.Faraday: Caroline, you mustn’t let this business get inside you.Gleeson: The film is a kind of a gothic ghost story. My character grew up very poor. Always looked up to the upper classes, wanted to be from the upper classes. It was a very long process actually getting the accent. I worked with a great dialect coach, we kind of invented a new accent for him because he was from the working class and yet he aspires to be from a higher class, and yet he can’t lose the accent completely. So we kind of invented that. We also listened to Philip Larkin reading his own poems.Philip Larkin: I work all day and get half drunk at night.Gleeson: He grew up not wealthy and yet when he read his poems, the accent he had was very posh and then something weird happens when you realise that somebody has changed themselves in some way through their accent.General Hux: Who do you think you’re talking to? All remaining systems will bow to the First Order!Gleeson: Hux is full on fascist, English upper class, rolls his R’s sometime and it’s very aspirational and strong.Bill Weasley: Hello Harry, Bill Weasley.Gleeson: I thought I had done a really good job at my accent on “Harry Potter,” until I turned up on set and went Australian.Bill Weasley: True enough, owe it all to a werewolf, name of Greyback.Gleeson: And I couldn’t stop being Australian for a whole day, my first day in front of everybody. So that was the worst thing in the world. What you wanna do is forget about it when you’re doing it and just be able to be the character.Oldest Son: It’s not my fault, it’s not my fault. They never really loved me. They always loved him more. They were leaving me behind.Moon: I don’t know those boys. I always try to help out the law.Gleeson: It’s funny, southern American is definitely easier than a more general American or something from either coast. The southern thing, I don’t know I think because of the way that the sentences work and the up and down of the tonality of it, you can hear it and you can grab on to it. It’s an accent you can grab onto. South African or Welsh, like they’re the nightmare ones, they’re the ones that you just like wake up sweating about having to do someday. I mean, I didn’t go to drama school or anything like that so it’s my own little system which has developed, but yeah, a lot of exercises in the mornings then I tend to keep the accent up during the day, just so it settles into my mouth and I’m not doing an accent when we start doing a scene. Oftentimes I’ll find a poem that I think suits the character and that will be my mantra that I go to because it puts you in a good state of mind and it gets your mouth in shape for what you’re about to do.Caleb: So my only function was to be someone she could use to escape.Gleeson: I’ll keep it up on set, but then when they say, “cut” on the last take of the day, I go back to Irish and then I can go home and talk to my friends and not have them hate me. You know? So I can try and be myself again.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.