‘The Last Duel’: Matt Damon and Ben Affleck Reveal the Accent Actors Use in the Film
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck reunited after almost 25 years to write a movie and act in it together. The duo along, with filmmaker and writer Nicole Holofcener, wrote The Last Duel, a period piece set in 14th century France.
While the movie is set in Europe, a good number of the cast members including Damon, Affleck, and Adam Driver, with the exception of Jodie Comer, have natural American accents. In the past, period dramas set in Europe have seen American actors attempt European accents only to end up with an unconvincing accent. From Kevin Costner’s British accent as Robin Hood in Prince of Thieves to Angelina Jolie’s accent in Alexander — there are several examples.
But the team behind The Last Duel decided to avoid the embarrassment.
Actors in ‘The Last Duel’ sport a more natural dialect
In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Damon and Affleck shared why they did not have French or British accents in the movie.
Like many movies that involve a particular accent or tone, actors often seek help from a dialect coach. The Last Duel was no different. Damon attributes the decision to remain within their natural dialect of English to the movie’s dialect coach Tim Monich.
“He’s[Monich] just the best dialect coach. Tim[Monich] is brilliant with language, etymology, and he looked at an accent that’s not British, it’s not contemporary American, but it seems distant enough to be apart from our reality. But also one which is accessible to contemporary audiences,” Damon said.
The characters could not speak in a British accent
The duo felt that a British accent would not have worked for the film.
“There is an American notion that in the past we all spoke with British accents,” Affleck said. “It’s like Game of Thrones they all have British accents.”
Damon and Affleck wanted an accent that did not sound similar to the American accent. But the use of a British accent would have been more inauthentic for the movie.
“There needs to be an otherness about it[the accent] that doesn’t feel modern and American. They can’t speak with British accents because they’re at war with the British, and they talk about that. Constantly,” Damon said. “Tim[Monich] really designed the sound for everybody,” Damon said.
The goal behind using a natural dialect was to not be a distraction
The two agreed that a unique accent could pull the audience’s attention away from everything else that was happening on screen.
“The real goal is you don’t want the audience to be taken out of the movie,” Damon said. “You want the accents to disappear so it’s not something you’re thinking about.”
Affleck also noted that famous actors today find it difficult to appear in their onscreen roles because so much about their real personality and life is already known to the public.
“Just being contemporary actors, an unfortunate byproduct of being an actor is people know a lot about your life anyway, and it makes it harder to suspend their disbelief and really believe you as a person in this life,” Affleck said.
Keeping in mind the various factors that might impact the way audiences might perceive their accent while striking a balance between the requirements of the story, the duo went ahead with a slightly different American accent.
Will the accent work? We’ll find out on Oct. 15 when The Last Duel releases.