Acting and accents

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Actors are often called upon to speak in accents other than their own. For example, Missouri-born actor Dick van Dyke attempted to imitate a Cockney accent in the film Mary Poppins. Similarly, an actor may portray a character of some nationality other than his or her own by adopting into the native language the phonological profile typical of the nationality to be portrayed—what is commonly called "speaking with an accent". One example would be Viggo Mortensen's use of a Russian accent in his portrayal of Nikolai in the movie Eastern Promises.

An imitated accent rarely sounds accurate to the native speakers of the accent.[citation needed] The perception or sensitivity of others to accents means that generalizations are passed off as acceptable, such as Brad Pitt's Jamaican accent in Meet Joe Black.[1] Angelina Jolie attempted an Illyrian accent in the film Alexander that was said by critics to be distracting.[2] Gary Oldman has become known for playing eccentrics and for his mastery of accents.[3] Another actor known for his mastery of accents is Christian Bale.[4]

Meryl Streep in particular has become known for tackling (for the most part successfully) a wide variety of accents, including Irish, Italian, Polish, Australian and numerous regional American accents.[5]

In recent times accents have become a particular area of fascination for various online communities. Videos asking people to 'rate their accent' have become viral.[citation needed]

Accents may have associations and implications for an audience. For example, in Disney films from the 1990s onward, British accents are generally employed to serve one of two purposes: slapstick comedy or evil genius.[6] Examples include Aladdin (the Sultan and Jafar, respectively), The Lion King (Zazu and Scar, respectively), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Victor the Gargoyle and Frollo, respectively), and Pocahontas (Wiggins and Ratcliffe, respectively - both of whom happen to be played by the same actor, American David Ogden Stiers).

U.S. Spanish language TV network Telemundo requires actors from various countries of Hispanic America to reduce their accents from other Spanish dialects so that they sound more like Mexican Spanish. The network has employed veteran Mexican actress Adriana Barraza as a dialect coach.[7]