Take Two for April 4, 2013

What's behind the British 'invasion' of so many US film and TV roles?

British Actors Hugh Dancy

NBC

British actor Hugh Dancy in the TV series "Hannibal."

When it comes to late night TV, most hosts are born here in the U.S., but when it comes to dramas and sitcoms on television, many shows star actors from across the pond. 

Take the show "Hannibal," which debuts tonight on NBC, about the famous cannibal character Hannibal Lecter. Englishman Hugh Dancy plays the brilliant FBI profiler Will Graham working with Dr. Lecter.  

So how do British actors master the American accent? 

Many of them call dialect coach Claudette Roche. She's worked on shows such as "Boardwalk Empire," "NCIS" and "American Horror Story." She joins the show to talk about why we're seeing so many foreign actors on the small screen and how they pull off American accents.

Interview Highlights:

On why so many British actors are being cast in American film and television:
"There's a perception that English actors are more highly trained and just a little bit better. A producer friend of mine is working on a film and he needs to cast the star, and the character will have to speak in many different American accents. He said we was going to England to look at the talent there, and I said 'Well, that's quite odd, why wouldn't you just stay here?,' and he said, 'Well why would I because they're much more trained?' I said, 'Well you know they're quite trained here. You need American accents and you'll need varied American accents!' And he said 'You're right, let's go to Australia, we'll look at Australians!'"

On the different perception of acting in Britain compared to the U.S.:
"They really devote themselves to their craft. They're not trying to openly be stars, the goal is to be a working actor. So when they come here they have such well rounded resumes, they've done stage productions, period pieces, they've television, they've done radio, they've done commercials. Whereas here in Los Angeles, there's a focus on what kind of actor do you want to be? Do you want to do film, do you want to do television, do you want to do sitcoms? And they try to keep you in that box. Whereas the English actor does everything. There's no stigma for an English actor to have done a commercial, and a television show, and then star in a film, and then go back to doing stage and TV."

On how difficult it is for British Actors to master the American Accent:
"They really have to study. When they're in school they are working on their varied English accents and their varied UK accents. So they come here and they have really polished their accents. Sometimes when they get here they just need to fine tune."

On why the American southern accent is easier for British actors:
"The southern accent sings, there's a beautiful melody to a southern accent that is reminiscent to an English example. The Standard american example is very flat, there isn't much melody to it, so it’s actually easier for an english actor to do a southern accent and or a New York accent."


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