“Accent is a crucial layer of storytelling.” Dialect coach Erik Singer analyzes actor accents in a Wired.com video interview. “A well-executed accent can be the sharpest tool in an actor’s toolbox. But when an accent is off, everyone notices. Everyone.”
Check out the video here to view clips of 32 actors doing accents, and Singer’s take on their work. In his estimate, Idris Elba is one of the best. Example: his performance as Nelson Mandela.
Another dialect coach, Doug Honorof, says in an interview in The Filmmaker Lifestyle, “Actors do not need a language teacher at all. They are not learning a foreign language; they are just creating the illusion that they have learned one. What they need is an illusionist. Dialect coaches are illusionists extraordinaire.”
“Ultimately, I am not teaching the actor a language,” says Honorof. “They don’t have to speak the language. They just have to look like they do. It is all smoke and mirrors with foreign language work.”