There are some TV shows that will always hold a special place in our hearts, and there are some TV characters who we know like the back of our remote-operating hand – be it their motivations or their biggest fears. As familiar as these characters may be, there still can be details that just so happen to slip under our radars. For starters, some of the actors who play those characters do not necessarily sound exactly the way you think they do in real life.
Consider the star of Netflix’s smash sci-fi series Stranger Things. Millie Bobby Brown is British, but the character of Eleven speaks with an American accent — and it’s quite believable. As Brown shared on Radio 1’s The Story So Far (via Today Online), her American accent was so convincing in the Stranger Things audition the casting directors believed she was from the States. However, when Brown began shooting her next project with a British accent, she had a big problem. “I had to learn how to speak again because I’m so used to speaking in an American accent,” she told Radio Times (via BBC).
Of course, she is not the only actor who has used a fake accent on a show. Get ready to be surprised by what some TV stars sound like in real life.
Melissa Rauch's Big Bang Theory voice is an affectation
The Big Bang Theory catapulted actor Melissa Rauch into stardom. After appearing as Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz on the series for a decade, she’s still recognized as her character when she’s out and about. Yet, there’s just something different about speaking to this star when the cameras are not rolling. “Sometimes I’ll get recognized, and then they’ll hear my voice and be like, ‘Oh, that’s not you,'” Rauch laughed on The Rubin Report. Turns out, her own voice sounds nothing like her iconic character’s.
According to Backstage, when Rauch originally auditioned for the part, she did so with a Canadian accent. When that didn’t spark the casting director’s interest, she finally gave Bernadette her high-pitched tone we now all know and love. There was someone very special to her that she got the inspiration from, too. “Bernadette’s voice is very similar to my mother’s — except without the Jersey accent,” the New Jersey native explained on The Rubin Report.
Alfred Enoch used a different accent on How to Get Away with Murder
How to Get Away with Murder? More like how to get away with a convincing accent. It turns out that the actor who played Wes Gibbons on the hit primetime thriller is actually British.
How to Get Away with Murder actor Alfred Enoch may have had us all fooled, but perfecting his American accent wasn’t so easy for him at first. “I’m not one of these people who’s good [at] accents,” Enoch admitted to Heart. However, he was determined to get it right for How to Get Away with Murder. “When I got the part I was just mindful that this is gonna be on American TV,” he said. “And I can’t get it wrong.”
As difficult it may have been, there was a key to his success. For seven months straight, Enoch only spoke with an American accent — even when he returned to London to visit his family. Constantly speaking like someone from the States helped keep him in character, and it made it easier to focus only on remembering his lines. “The other thing is — I like the idea of fitting in,” he shared on The View. “I like that people should think I’m American.” And this actor certainly made us all think he was.
KJ Apa hasn't always had an easy time with his accent on Riverdale
While Archie Andrews may be an American, the actor who plays him is not.
KJ Apa started off on a New Zealand soap opera before moving to the United States to pursue a career in the spotlight. He perfected his American accent long before that, though. “I think it’s because we’re constantly bombarded with American content over there,” he explained on The View, and he sounds pretty believable — so much so, that many fans of the television series had no idea he didn’t grow up in a small town in the States like Archie.
Apa is easily able to switch his American accent on and off, and it has done him well while working on Riverdale. “I’m lucky in that respect I think because it means I don’t have to focus on it while I’m working,” he told Glamour UK. That said, there are still a few American words that trip him up when he’s acting. “The hardest ones for me have always been ‘burger’ and ‘girlfriend,'” he admitted on The View. Seeing as his character has had to spend an awful lot of time taking Ronnie to Pop’s in Riverdale, those are two tough words to get hung up on.
Yael Stone's accent is completely original on Orange is the New Black
Whenever anyone recognizes the actor who plays Lorna Morello in Orange is the New Black out and about, many of them have to do a double take — and it’s not just because we’re seeing her out from behind bars. “I generally speak in my Australian accent,” she told HitFix. “And then that will confuse them enough.”
Yes, Yael Stone may be Australian, but she’s spent a bit of her life living in Brooklyn, New York. Between the big city and Boston, she listened to people’s voices all around her before coming up with the unique accent that makes up Morello’s. It’s quite a concoction, too. When HitFix asked if she knew anyone who had that exact dialect, she answered, “It kind of came out. I can’t stop it.”
Orange may be the new black, but unique accents are the newest way to tell a story. “The sounds we make tell the story of our lives sometimes, so for Lorna the sounds that she makes tell the story of her life — so a life that’s kind of moved up and down the East Coast,” Stone told WBUR. “That she’s very adaptable. She’s done pretty well in prison because she has been flexible.”
Sam Palladio sure doesn't sound like he's from Nashville
When you’re auditioning to star in Nashville, chances are you’re going to need a Southern accent. Luckily, Sam Palladio — who plays Gunnar Scott in the series — was able to make that happen. However, it just so happens that the actor was born and raised in England and speaks with an English accent. “Being in Nashville surrounded by the Southerners, you pick it up,” he shared with PopSugar.
What’s more, you’ve probably seen Palladio speaking with numerous accents over the course of his career. As he told the outlet, “I don’t seem to do the same accent in, you know, any roles. It’s a really exciting challenge.”
When he began starring in other series using his authentic accent, he got quite a response from fans. As he joked to BUILD Series, one of his favorite tweets of all time has to be one where someone called his English accent “terrible.” Even so, it’s not enough to get this Brit down. He just takes the confusion as a “compliment” of his serious acting skills.
Andrew Lincoln from The Walking Dead isn't an American either
Everybody seems to recognize actor Andrew Lincoln from The Walking Dead. However, they never see him as himself. They see him as the southern zombie slayer Rick Grimes, instead — accent and all. This British bloke had so many people thinking he was an American, that even his castmates get confused when they hear him speak in his real voice. “They are a bit freaked out,” he said in Independent.ie. “I get a bit coy around them so I may slip into my dialect.”
Lincoln credits his successful American accent to two things: showing up early to set each day and his “amazing” dialect coach. Perfecting Grimes’ voice was very important for him to get right. “I wanted to get that done before I even saw a zombie,” he said at Walker Stalker Con. “Because I’d have a lot more to worry about.” Sure, we were all too busy watching the zombies, but we’d still have to agree that he’s perfected his American accent.
However, there is a downside to being so successful at it. After playing his sci-fi character for over a decade, it has impacted his original voice. Aside from all of the screaming that he does, Lincoln said his English accent is a strange sound to him now. “This isn’t normal anymore,” he said. “I’m American now,” which has only helped him book numerous other roles in the States. Lucky Lincoln!
Ed Westwick had fans fooled on Gossip Girl
Here’s a hot piece of gossip you may have not taken away from Gossip Girl: the actor who plays Chuck Bass is actually from England. “So many fans are disappointed to find out I am British,” Ed Westwick shared on The Graham Norton Show (via AP). “One girl said about my English accent, ‘What are you doing? Why are you speaking like that?'”
As Westwick recalled on The Graham Norton Show, he flew out to Los Angeles when he was only a teenager in hopes he would get cast in an American series, and that series just so happened to be Gossip Girl. “I think the television and film industry out here has been very, very welcoming to people from my neck of the woods,” he said on The Queen Latifah Show. They were so welcoming that, crazy enough, casting directors even debated having his character keep the English accent. Westwick told Details (via Mental Floss) that he watched a whole lot of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and channeled the character of Carlton Banks to nail his stateside accent.
Though he’s been acting with his new accent ever since Gossip Girl ended in 2012, Westwick isn’t up for bringing it back on a reboot. “I did so much with that character,” he explained on The Graham Norton Show. “It’s played out, man. It’s done.” XOXO, Chuck.
Charlie Hunnam's Sons of Anarchy accent stuck with him
Not unlike his on-screen character, actor Charlie Hunnam admitted to ET that he “stole so much from Sons of Anarchy.” One of the major items he took away from the set was his motorcycle. Another? His character’s American accent.
In reality, Hunnam can usually be heard with an English accent. However, after seven seasons of playing an American man named Jax Teller, Hunnam had a hard time getting back to his original accent. “I’ve been acting and living in America for so long and acting with American dialects, and putting an enormous amount of time and energy into trying to learn an American accent and get it as flawless as I can,” he explained to Hollywood.com. Evidently, those sounds stuck. “By the time I got hired to return back to England, I had adopted, just naturally, a lot of those cadences and inflections.”
Soon after the series ended, Hunnam was cast in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. He was playing King Arthur in the film, so his English accent had to be flawless. While it may seem like an easy task for someone from England, he actually had to hire a dialect coach to help him get his English accent back. “I had to work hard,” Hunnam told the outlet.
Katherine Langford's secret on the set of 13 Reasons Why
Hannah Baker’s heartbreaking story in 13 Reasons Why made us all fall apart. Yet, there was something else we fell for too. “You guys fell for my American accent,” Katherine Langford tweeted. Off screen, the actor actually has an Australian accent.
To prepare for her very first television gig, Langford watched a lot of movies and mimicked exactly what she heard. “I feel like everyone who doesn’t grow up in America vicariously lives through, like, American films,” she said on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Because of this, she had practically mastered the American accent long before stepping foot on any kind of set.
After Langford left the series, she went on to book a ton of other roles with varying accents. In the series Cursed, she spoke with an English accent, and she returned to her American accent in the film Knives Out. The crew of the whodunnit flick was extremely impressed with her ability to fool everyone into thinking she actually was American. “I slowly realized when you’re just talking to her in between takes, depending on who she’s talking to, she will adjust her natural accent to match yours,” director Rian Johnson explained to Vanity Fair.
It seems Langford was born to play any part. After working all over the world, Johnson joked that “it’s possible her brain is just not sure at this point what accent she actually is.”
Simon Baker's character could've called his true accent in The Mentalist
No small detail ever gets past Patrick Jane in The Mentalist. On the flip side, some viewers may feel deceived once they discover that the actor who played him doesn’t actually have an American accent.
Simon Baker grew up in Australia, but adjusted his accent once he began acting in American stories. In the ’00s, he booked a role in The Mentalist, where he had to speak with an American accent on set for seven years. “Sometimes I do find myself saying certain words in my real life as an American,” he admitted on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. “Which sort of upsets me a bit.” However, it is not always easy for him to stay in character on set.
As he told Metro.co.uk, when he worked with “a particular Australian director” who happens to have “a very broad accent,” Baker would “start talking with a thick Australian accent too” and “forget to be American” once the cameras were rolling. Luckily for him, it wasn’t live television!
The Americans' Matthew Rhys doesn't actually have an American accent
The popular series The Americans is a fictional thriller about two KGB officers pretending to be Americans in a United States suburb. As it turns out, series star Matthew Rhys is neither American nor Russian. Rather, he is Welsh. When Rhys won an Emmy for his role in 2018, his acceptance speech had fans freaking out when they realized he didn’t really have an American accent.
Before landing the role as Phillip Jennings in The Americans, Rhys had to nail his American accent in a series called Brothers & Sisters. Though he had years of experience getting it right, he sometimes still has difficulties with it on set. “If I’m a bit tired or I hear it slipping, then I’ll tend to sort of stay in it,” he shared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. “Or impersonate a TV personality from my youth.” As for his fictional character of choice? “B.A. Baracus … from The A-Team,” he shared.
Even on his bad days, everybody still seems to be impressed with how he can hold an American accent. When The Americans ended in 2018, Rhys was easily able to book other roles with it. “Many Brits, you know, we schlep out here trying to steal jobs from the Americans,” he joked during PaleyFest LA. However, we’re not so sure he’s kidding now.
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