I Love Carey Mulligan's American Accent

The actress’s unique drawl sounds nothing like an American I’ve met. Who cares?

NEW YORK CITY, NY - AUGUST 17: Carey Mulligan is seen filming on set of "She Said" in Bryant Park on...
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promising young woman

The trailer for Universal’s She Said – a searing, dully lit docudrama about Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey’s Harvey Weinstein investigation at The New York Times – dropped this morning, including and perhaps most especially featuring another entry in one of my personal favorite pantheons, the Carey Mulligan American accent.

Mulligan, who plays Twohey, brings her classico American accent to the picture, which is full of journalistic jargon and the term “NDAs.” For the record, I love Mulligan’s American accent, which sounds like no American I have ever met. It’s low and severe, with strong R’s (listen to Mulligan say record in the She Said trailer; it’s like no R’s have been pronounced before) and flat vowels. She sounds like someone from Wisconsin who spent six months in Boston and then moved to Washington, D.C. to study how people who live across the street from Lincoln Center sound. She sounds like a college professor trying to get tenure. She sounds angry and bored at the same time.

Mulligan’s American accent, often derided, has brought a unique quality to a slew of her American characters. She’s best served by it in the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis as an over-it burgeoning folk singer and in Wildlife as an over-it young mother.

Remember when Carey Mulligan sang “New York, New York” in Shame? One of the top ten craziest things to happen in a movie in the last two decades.

Say what you want about Mulligan’s accent but it features perhaps the most compelling diction of anyone working in Hollywood right now – so distinct and memorable, neither realistic nor overtly fake. It is perhaps the Hollywood ideal, in that regard: it is the uncanny valley of American accents, genuinely something but also nothing like how it is supposed to be. Who knows what she’ll sound like in Maestro!

She Said could be searing enough to convince people who faved Johnny Depp’s “we won” Instagram post that sexual harassment is bad, but it will more likely fall short of more cutting, incisive post-#MeToo dramas, like The Assistant and The Last Duel. With Mulligan at the helm, though, and her over-educated but under-enthused drawl, it’ll be clear that the subject matter is real-ly sear-ious