Colin Firth and Emily Blunt talk accents and ‘Arthur Newman’

Colin Firth and Emily Blunt talk like Americans in "Arthur Newman" Credit: Cinedigm
Colin Firth and Emily Blunt talk like Americans in “Arthur Newman”
Credit: Cinedigm

People tend to freak when a Britisher adopts an American accent, or vice versa. Partly, it’s about the supposed athletic ability required to wield a foreign tongue. (And partly, it’s the sadness of hearing someone with a euphonious accent forced to sound like a boring Yank.)

“It’s not that big a deal for us,” confesses Emily Blunt. “We just see it as another character, and taking on another voice.” Blunt stars with fellow countryperson Colin Firth in “Arthur Newman,” as two people running away from their lives who meet up on the road. In the film both actors talk American.

“I’ve rarely done a film in England that doesn’t include an American actress, often doing an English accent,” says Firth.

Blunt points out Renee Zelwegger as Bridget Jones. “I remember when she got the part every woman was up in arms, because everyone thought they were Bridget Jones. She was in the public domain. There was outrage. Then she turned out to do the most amazing job.”

Firth, like Blunt, has a very proper English accent — or at least one would assume. “The accent that people think comes naturally to me is not the one I grew up with,” reveals Firth. “I am from what is known as the ‘west country’ of England.” He says he deliberately lost his native accent when he was first trying to be an actor.

“In England you’re trained to learn what is known in our field as ‘BBC English.’ Basically the idea is that it is a neutral sound from which you can do other things. I think people I went to school with probably got a bit of a shock when they first heard me trying to sound patrician.”

“There’s a tendency in England that if you come from a family that speaks a bit posh that you want to reject that,” says Blunt. “A lot of kids who come from upple middle class family walk around [adopts Cockney-ish accent] talking like that, know wha’ I mean?”

“We still have a very dominant class system in England,” Firth says. “There’s a lot of snobbery in all kinds of permutations.”

The notion of someone speaking a different accent fits in with the film’s narrative. Firth’s character is an unhappy divorcee who fakes his own death, hoping to be reborn as a golf pro. “It was a conceit that this was a man who feels he doesn’t fit anywhere,” he says. The idea of someone adopting a different life sounds a lot like the life of an actor. But there are differences.

“I don’t see acting as an escapist desire,” says Blunt. “I do have a fascination with other people. I think I have a fascination with other people’s stories. It’s not too lose myself in them.”

“Other people fascinate people,” Firth says. “It’s a defining part of most people’s lives, whether you’re watching reality TV or following sport, or whether you’re losing yourself in movies or reading highbrow literature. I think it’s about interacting with other people, sampling their lives.”

Besides, says Firth, “If every actor played exactly what they were, then every film would be about a bunch of neurotic actors.”


OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…


Mets mascot Mr. Met target of Bill Clinton…

Mets mascot Mr. Met has told how he ended up in the crosshairs of a Secret Service sniper rifle. The man behind the Mr. Met…


Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."


Chelsea Clinton pregnant with first child

Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child.


'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…


Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.


Dick Wolf to bring fictionalized world of 'Law…

A&E has ordered a pilot called "D.O.A." from "Law and Order" mastermind Dick Wolf that will focus on real detectives reexamining cold cases. A trio…


Shane West talks WGN America's 'Salem'

The actor on history lessons, a new network and showing his butt.


MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox


2014 Boston Marathon preview: Elite American, International runners…

2014 Boston Marathon: Elite American, International runners to watch


2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams…

2014 NBA Finals odds: Ranking which playoff teams have the best shot at a championship. The Thunder, Clippers, Heat and Rockets lead the way.


2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced

2014 Patriots, full NFL schedule release date announced


Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.


Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.


Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.


Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.