Unreceived Pronunciation

Sometimes I get don’t like it when actors are too good. It’s kind of scary to me, actually; I feel overwhelmed. I don’t know what to do with the knowledge that Tatiana Maslany can play fifty different parts believably. (This will not stop me from proposing to her if we ever meet in person.)

So I love it when there’s a tiny slip, when something an otherwise extremely talented actor does seems wrong for the scene, out of place. It’s like finding an Easter egg. I also know how much of a final cut is up to the director, and can think of the times that I’ve been incensed when a director chose the one take I think I blew. There’s also a kind of solidarity with the actors, and maybe also a strange protectiveness towards them. Or perhaps it’s my dubious feelings about my own acting abilities. Acting isn’t the hardest job in the world, but it’s nice to know unquestionably great actors have off days, too. It’s the same feeling of recognition and relief I get when I see a beautiful person trip.

The best kind of acting slips, by far, though? Accent slips. There’s something so endearing about them to me. Detective McNulty going from Baltimore to Sheffield when he’s in an argument. Juno MacGuff asking why yuppies love herbs so much. For just a millisecond, Philip Jennings sounding like he’s from neither Russia nor the United States, making me fall even deeper in love with him.

Maybe this mostly applies to actors I find attractive. It’s also mostly non-Americans. Americans trying and failing to do non-American accents are a class all their own, and one I don’t care much for. Americans failing to do other regional American dialects are even worse (why does your alleged Long Island native speak with a Texan drawl, MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY). Maybe I don’t pick up on it as well because I don’t know non-American accents as well, or maybe I feel shame at my fellow countrypeople embarrassing ourselves, or maybe, as you must have guessed by now, I watch a lot of non-American TV shows.

Whatever it may be, I know my feelings regarding actor slips are not universal. My friends in the comedy world are always discussing how “breaking” is inherently disrespectful to the audience. That’s probably true, and I will say I can’t stand when performers, whose only job is to please their audience, don’t try. But I also know that nothing is more soothing to me than hearing an Irish actor unintentionally use a rhotic “r”.

Some people need to know everything about an actor’s real-life personality to be able to find them relatable. I don’t. I just need them to say “lithle” instead of “little.”

Stuff I Did This Week: Appeared in this PSA for the Yes on 10 campaign in California! It’s a great cause, and I was also thrilled to get to appear onscreen with the fantastic Kate Berlant. (We found out we use the same color lip pencil!)

Fake BBC Show Title of the Week: Murder in a Wendy House