Saturday, July 1, 2017

Troian Bellisario’s British Accent Based off Reality Show ‘The Only Way is Essex’

In the Pretty Little Liars series finale episode 7x20 “‘Til Death Do Us Part”, it was revealed that A.D. was Spencer’s long-lost, evil, British identical twin Alex Drake (Twincer). Actress Troian Bellisario explained how she prepared and chose the accent, which she based off the reality television show The Only Way is Essex.

Troian Bellisario was asked if she modeled her accent after anyone, particularly Amy Winehouse. “I did listen to Amy! It’s funny, my friend called me and was like, “That was the best Michael Caine I ever heard.” [Laughs.] I knew that I was really interested in an “Essex sound.” I wanted her to be an Essex girl. I eventually I found this reality show called The Only Way Is Essex. It’s pretty much the Jersey Shore for the U.K. It’s reality TV, so the characters are very dramatic and very outlandish and very funny and very brash. I saw a musicality in the way they spoke — the slang and the way that they related to each other. So I was like, “I don’t know, this sounds like Alex to me.” So the voice was actually based off that reality-TV show,” Troian explained.

PLL showrunner Marlene wanted Alex Drake to be from the U.K., but they hadn’t nailed down the specifics in the beginning. They chose to make Alex Drake British only after they knew actor Julian Morris would be able to return as Wren in the series finale.

“I remember Marlene turned to me one day and was like, “Actually, I think I want her to grow up in the U.K.” So I was like, “Oh, okay, so does she have an accent?” Marlene was like, “Yeah, yeah, let’s find her an accent.” ... We didn’t know if we were going to be able to go the whole British route, because we didn’t know if Julian [Morris] was going to be available to play Wren in the finale. It was a lot of pieces that finally fell into place a few weeks leading up to the finale,” Troian told Vulture.

PLL Wren and Alex (Spencer) different British accents

One reason Troian Bellisario wanted Alex to be an Essex girl was because she didn’t want her to sound like Wren Kingston. Troian worked with a dialect coach to nail down the specific accent she wanted to use in the show.

“I really wanted to make her an Essex girl. Because she was going to have so many scenes with Wren, I wanted to make sure she sounded very different from him. If I just did a generic posh accent, it would be a little harder to hold onto. But if I was very specific, and I made her sound very different from [the other British characters], it’d be easier to tell that this is a living, breathing person from a specific place with a specific history. It was a little easier to take the turn because it was so sharp. Like, she wasn’t slightly British, she was fully over there. So that’s why it was important for me to work with a dialect coach to get a specific accent; she’s telling a whole story with the way that she speaks,” Troian explained to TV Line.

PLL showrunner Marlene King also talked about the ways Troian Bellisario made distinctions between Spencer Hastings and Alex Drake. It wasn’t just the accent. There were also differences with the way the twins had sex with Toby.

“Troian [Bellisario], because she knew she was going to be both Spencer and Alex, started working a year ago with a dialect coach, because she wanted a very specific accent for Alex. And there were other choices she made as an actress, when she was playing Alex, that were subtler, like fidgeting with her hair. So when it came to having sex as Alex Drake, she’s probably more take-charge than we would ever see Spencer be — less tender, more aggressive,” Marlene told the NY Times.

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