Los Angeles native Alison Brie plays the sister of Emily Blunt‘s character in the upcoming comedy The Five-Year Engagement. While the funny Brie makes a great addition to the cast, there was a significant problem that Brie had to face: London-born Blunt’s British accent.
Since two sisters with completely different accents isn’t something that isn’t easily explained away, Brie spoke to Collider about how the best vocal coach she could get to help her sound like Emily Blunt was… well, Emily Blunt.
Preparing for the role took some time, but luckily Blunt was very helpful.
Brie explains, “Well, when they first approached me about the table read, and then they called me back and asked me to do a British accent I had worked a bit with a CD. I had been working with the CD when I got the call, which was like ‘Oh good, I’ve kinda been working on this already, so great.’ And then I actually, embarrassingly rented, or bought/purchased—’cause I’m like this I’m gonna need—The Devil Wears Prada and just watched Emily’s scenes again and again ’cause I was like I really wanna sound like Emily. And that became key later so once we started to work on the film, or just a couple weeks before I started working with a dialect coach, Cynthia Blaze in LA. And we would do courses and we had a recording of Emily’s voice, and then when I got here she left and I really have just been working with Emily. Emily’s become on set dialect coach. I think normally working with a dialect you just get your lines, you memorize your lines and it’s really easy to finely tune an accent for those specific lines.”
Of course, in comedy films there is often a significant amount of on-set improv, something that doesn’t work well with carefully-prepared enunciation. But Brie managed to cope even though the result wasn’t exactly improv.
She reveals, “But here, so much of it is improv. Not just improv, but collaboration I think. So it’s Nick [Stoller, director] coming up with stuff, and then you pitching something, and then you guys creating new lines two minutes before you say them. So it’s not all the improv in the moment, but I still just have five minutes to rework it in my head and run it past Emily maybe, and give it a go. So, I’ve been having fun with it.”