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Is Eddie Izzard's American accent getting better?

by Joel Keller, posted Mar 20th 2007 1:23PM
Eddie IzzardOne of the things I noticed when I watched last week's pilot of The Riches was that Eddie Izzard was struggling to maintain an American accent of any kind, much less the southern accent that his character, Wayne Malloy, is likely to have.

But when I watched last night's episode (Brett and I are trading off reviews on this show), I noticed that Izzard's accent had smoothed out, and his British didn't seep out as much as it did in the first episode. This is no small feat; doing an accurate American accent is extremely difficult for Brits, as the many tiny differences between how each country speaks English are tough to keep track of. The effort to make the leap has sunk many accomplished British actors; even ones who do a reasonable job, like Emma Thompson, let their native accents leak through every so often.

For Izzard to have made such a big improvement between episodes, he would have needed to put in a lot of effort. Normally, there's a pretty big time gap between when a pilot and the second episode is shot, but in the case of this series, that time gap doesn't seem all that big (the kids don't seem to be jarringly older than the were in the pilot), so it makes me wonder: did Eddie undergo intense vocal training between episodes? Or did he just "get it" and lock it in quickly?

Anyway, seeing good actors like Izzard struggle with an American accent really makes you appreciate what actors like Hugh Laurie and Minnie Driver can do with their voices. Laurie's job is especially hard: he has to maintain an American accent and a limp. For that, he should win an Emmy every year.

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The Malloys (Eddie Izzard, Minie Driver and kids) are from Louisiana. They were leaving the area, when the Riches, who were moving from Tampa to Baton Rouge were killed. In impersonating the Riches, they state that they are from Tampa, not Louisiana.

April 01 2007 at 9:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Was anyone else caught a little off-guard by the lack of makeup, the executive T.V. side? That was one of the things that set him apart as a comedian, I think, and one of the things that I really enjoyed about him. To me, it was like a part of his persona, his identity...
But then again...
Now we can see past the festive clothes and makeup (I swear he is better at eye makeup than I am) and see him. That's nice.
I'd just like to hear someone else's thoughts...
As for the accent, they should have found a way to work it in, because he has a particularly nice-sounding one. Not to mention it's a pain in the arse. Just for kicks, I decided to try and keep up a Brit accent for just a day in SF. It was much harder than I expected. Now, though, I accidentally slip into and out of a British accent every once in a while. This is odd, considering I have never actually been to the country. I wonder if Eddie's normal dialect will change after this project.
Ah-loo-mih-num as opposed to al-loo-min-ium
or lee-jure as opposed to lie-jur-ee-ay ;)
Eddie Izzard is my hero.
Peace, love, and British accents,

March 26 2007 at 3:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

To be honest, when I saw the previews for Riches, I couldn't in a million years believe it was the same Eddie Izzard from Dress to Kill et. al. I actually had to check his website cause I just couldn't believe it was the same person. Granted, he looked similar (without the tranny makeup) but I was just shocked to find it was the same person, in such a different role. All things considered, the American accent he has achieved isn't too bad. But the Southern American accent, he has yet to master. It seems to be a combination of American, Southern and a few other dialects that I can put my finger on, it just seems in spots to be a non identifiable accent. He at some points even seems to be leaning toward a Cajun accent which doesn't quite work. But I know how difficult it is just to achieve just a normal American accent for a very English person. My grandmother spent over 80 years here and never was able to lose her heavy English accent although she did change to the American pronunciations. But back to Eddie, I'm still in shock that it's actually the same person!

March 25 2007 at 12:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

JD, that would explain everything with regards to the Florida/Louisiana question. I didn't catch that they were moving from Florida in the first episode & I haven't seen the second one yet (but it's recorded!).

Tim, I couldn't agree more about just enjoying the show. There are several shows that ask the viewer to suspend disbelief far beyond simply excusing a slightly wonky accent, Prison Break is one glaring example, and I enjoy them. So in the spirit of your comment I vow to just enjoy the ride! (I was pretty much doing that anyway, though.)

March 21 2007 at 12:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Watched second episode this morning, the security guard said, the biggest and best in Louisiana. They're moving FROM Tampa.

March 21 2007 at 11:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tim Laynor

For Gawd's Sake, I lived in the Midlands for over five years as an American serviceman. Believe me, you pick up alot of British-speak living over there. This is an especially entertaining show and I'm a huge Izzard fan, so just sit back and enjoy; don't over analyze it!

March 21 2007 at 9:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"I laughed when I read your post Rogphi because it made me think of Dick Van Dyke's accent in Mary Poppins. Nothing can make up for that!"

Nick, THANK YOU! you are right Nothing can Make up for that But Eddie Is definately on the right track here! Thanks Eddie!

March 21 2007 at 8:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If you saw Florida tags, it could have something to do with the side story about their extended, traveling family that Wayne stole the cash from. Perhaps some of them were in Florida or something like that. Not having seen the preview you refer to I can only guess.

The quickest synopsis that gives the supposed setting for the show that I can find in a hurry before I retire to my bed is on wikipedia at this link:

Here's a clip from the synopsis:
"Choosing not to return to their clan camp, they instead adopt the Riches' identity in suburban Baton Rouge, Louisiana and live as buffers, as they call mundane, law abiding people."

March 21 2007 at 1:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I just saw a preview, where the cars had Florida tags????

March 20 2007 at 11:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's definitely Baton Rouge. Since that's my home town it's what got me to check out the show in the first place. The pilot was actually shot in New Orleans, but production on the series after that moved to California.

March 20 2007 at 10:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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