The rural Irish rom-com Wild Mountain Thyme has come in for a much criticism for the quality of Irish accents from its stars but Emily Blunt says the County Mayo accent was “tricky” and actors can only “do their best”.
The movie from Oscar winner John Patrick Shanley stars Blunt, The Fall star Jamie Dornan, Christopher Walken and Mad Men star Jon Hamm and has received unfortunate publicity from Irish people unhappy with the representation of the accent.
Criticism online ranged from “a hate crime against Irish accents” to “completely messed up Oirish”.
Jungle Cruise and Mary Poppins Returns star Blunt explained to US publication The Hollywood Reporter how difficult Irish accents were to master, even for British actors.
She said: “Oh god, it’s completely different. But also, if you think about England, there’s a hundred accents or more. I don’t know how many accents there are just in England, and it’s the same in Ireland. I think there’s 50-to-100 different accents just in Ireland… Even in Dublin, there’s North and South Dublin, and they sound completely different.
“So we were doing a very specific midland, rural, quite thick accent to learn, and it sounds completely different from a Metropolitan, sort of Dublin Irish accent. I don’t even know all the accents. So yes, and even for Jamie, who’s from Belfast, he has a completely different accent from how he spoke. So accents are tricky. You just do your best and that’s all you can hope for.”
Wild Mountain Thyme is the story of Anthony (Dornan), a farmer who works with his difficult, bitter father (Walken), who threatens to sell the family farm to his American cousin Adam (Mad Men star Hamm).
Shy and worn down, Anthony doesn’t notice that childhood friend Rosemary (Blunt) has feelings for him, despite being ignored and sidelined by him, while Adam appears to have designs on her as well as the farm.
Blunt was excited to work with Moonstruck director Shanley and fell in love with the script.
She said: “…truly, when it came into my life, it was rather serendipitous because I had been saying to myself, “Oh, I’d love to do something intimate and something a bit left of centre.” So it came in at just the right time, and I was completely bewitched by it when I read the script.
“I mean, I knew because it was (John Patrick) Shanley. You know you’re going to read something singularly unique, and I just loved it. I fell in love with these bizarre, lonely farmers.”
Blunt described the difficulty of having to sing to Hollywood icon Walken in one scene.
“He was such an icon for me growing up, and I am supposed to sing this song for him,” she said. “It’s me (as Rosemary) singing a song to remind him (as Tony) about love, and his character was supposed to get very emotional listening to it. So when you’re staring into those iconic blue eyes and they start to cry, it was so moving. And I’m one of these people that as soon as I see someone cry, I will instantly cry. So I had to try not to look at him too much because it was so emotional.
“He’s so beautiful and fragile in the movie. I mean, everyone loves to impersonate Christopher Walken, but we must never forget how delicate he can be.”
Wild Mountain Thyme opens in selected cinemas and is available online from Friday 11th December.