Monday, 2 September 2013

Hawes on Essex

A recent piece in the Observer on Keeley Hawes discusses her role in the new play Barking in Essex. It makes putting on an Essex accent seem like a tremendous feat of thespian skill… The piece reads: 

If it is hard to imagine Hawes's mellifluous accent mangling estuary English and foul-mouthed tirades, then that is a testament to her acting. She may be familiar as Lady Agnes Holland in Upstairs Downstairs (or, to another demographic, as the plummy voice of Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider video game), but she is the daughter of a London cabbie.
Her voice is the result of a decade of elocution lessons that started at the Sylvia Young theatre school in Marylebone, and included putting a pencil in her mouth to perfect her vowels. The change has become so ingrained that when Hawes was cast as Jason Statham's wife, called, perfectly, Wendy Leather, in the 2008 film The Bank Job, she needed training to regress her accent.
"There are lots of actors who are posh and stick with that and there are lots of actors who are cockney and that's what they do," she says. "That's fine, but I don't think that could be said about me. I just happen to have played a lot of people who speak properly. So it was kind of thrilling when I started this play. It feels a bit naughty and I was like, 'Fackin' hell! Oh my gawd, what's me mum gonna say?'"
I've regressed my accent without any training… Click on the link to read the whole interview. Sounds like a nice gel, as Mark Wright might put it.

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