How Important is it for an Actor to get an Accent Perfect?
We all know that Dick van Dyke's dodgy cockney accent in "Mary Poppins" and Kevin Costner's hide-n-seek English accent in "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" were distracting enough to become famous in their own right, but, apart from these extremes, how important is it that an accent is spot-on?
If an actor mispronounces a word here and there, does it matter? If the performance is strong enough, do you not notice the accent, or does it destroy the illusion for you and distract from the performance?
When your own accent is used in a performance, does it only bother you if it's way off, or do you find it jarring if just one or two words are mispronounced? Does one slip undermine your belief in the character?
Mixed Accents and Dialects in "Real Life"
Interestingly, many "ordinary" people have variations on their native accent. Many (myself included) have mixtures of two or more accents - and we're still perfectly real people.... but when it comes to characters on stage, film and television, we seem to forget this, and we become critical of any accent that has tinges of another dialect in it. Certainly as an actress, I have a fear of slipping up when using an accent. I know that the majority of people will see it as incompetence rather than assume my character spent some time in South Africa or the UK!
So far I haven't heard anyone say that a dodgy accent in a performance doesn't bother them. It'll be interesting to see the results of the survey below.
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