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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Kate Winslet on learning a Delco accent for Mare Of Easttown

Kate Winslet in Mare Of Easttown.
Kate Winslet in Mare Of Easttown.
Screenshot: HBO

In our review of the first episode of Mare Of Easttown, Joshua Alston notes out that the show’s star, Kate Winslet, “is truly killing her take on the elusive Delco accent”—a southeastern Pennsylvanian dialect that Winslet found one of the hardest to master from among the many accents she’s tackled throughout her career.

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The Los Angeles Times spoke (in an unspecified accent) with Winslet and the show’s creators to detail how the actor learned to talk like a proper Delaware County citizen. A breakdown of the process shows how much work went into getting it right. While preparing for the role of Mare Sheehan, dialect coach Susan Hegarty “provided [Winslet with] a rough breakdown of the accent” then, along with another coach, began scouting for locals who matched Mare’s “age group... and socioeconomic background” in order to gather audio examples of various words.

The show’s Pennsylvanian creator Brad Ingelsby also recorded his wife’s Delco accent so Winslet could reference “the rhythm and melody” of their speaking style. With this material on hand, Hegarty guided Winslet in “[internalizing the accent’s sounds] the way a jazz musician might memorize scales and intervals in order to riff freely.” Along with all of the reference material the production collected, Winslet also hired a Delco local “with a pronounced accent” so she could regularly hear its sound.

Hegarty describes Winslet as “an accent nerd” who was determined to get the dialect right, even if it was extremely difficult to figure out. “She has publicly said that this is the only accent she’s ever done that made her throw things,” Hegarty says.

“It is absolutely up there amongst the top two hardest dialects I’ve ever done,” Winslet says. She points out the Delco accent’s vowels sounds, its “short ‘a’” sound, and “the way people from Delco kind of smush words together.” Director Craig Zobel remembers visiting Winslet’s home and seeing “these crazy diphthongs and explanations of how to pronounce certain words that she had all over her apartment.”

The article points out that the accent has rarely been represented in film or TV before, but that Ingelsby was “determined to accurately portray the region and what makes it unique.” Ingelsby also said that if he wanted to make the fictional Easttown a character in the show’s story, “then we had to treat that character with as much honesty and authenticity as every other character in the series. And that meant having the people that populated the community sound true to life.”

Read the entire Los Angeles Times article for more.

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