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The Hustle stars Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson as a pair of competing con artists. It's actually the third version of the story that first began with 1964's Bedtime Story and was followed by 1988's Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
In both of the previous iteration, the part of the high class con artist was played by a British actor, David Niven in the original, and Michael Caine in the first remake. In the new movie, American Hathaway has the role, but she plays a British character, which meant she needed to put on an accent.
The actress says she wasn't all that excited about the accent because she was afraid of doing it badly, but then she hit on an idea. What if the accent wasn't real, even within the story? Hathaway says she found influences for her accent in many places, but most strangely, Seth MacFarlane's performance as Stewie on Family Guy. According to Hathaway...
I thought, 'OK, maybe my character isn't necessarily British.’ She's a con woman. Maybe she's just decided that she's British and she sounds British. So I thought, 'What would be her main influences.' I really love Joanna Lumley from Absolutely Fabulous and it would've been such a shame not to put a little Julie Andrews in there, so I put a little Julie Andrews in there. But mainly it was Stewie from Family Guy.
A bad accent in movies is one of those things that tends to get actors raked over the coals when they're bad so it's not shocking, and a little refreshing, that Anne Hathaway was concerned about that from the beginning. She tells GMA that she didn't want to use an accent at all, but director Chris Addison insisted on it.
The idea that the accent in The Hustle might be fake, as the character Josephine Chesterfield is a con artist who might want people to believe she's British when that's not the case, is an interesting idea. It also, not coincidentally I'm guessing, gives the actress an out if people tell her the accent isn't very good.
However, Anne Hathaway says that the British press are actually complimenting her accent, so apparently it all worked out.
It's certainly not shocking that Julie Andrews was an influence on Anne Hathaway's accent. The two have been co-stars before after all. The Family Guy connection is, of course, a little bit more bizarre. Although, since Seth MacFarlane isn't British either, using a fake accent to create your own fake accent maybe makes a bit more sense.
Check out Anne Hathaway's complete comments in the clip below.
Anne Hathaway's accent may be great, but it may not be enough to save the film, It's being hammered by critics at the moment. We'll have to wait and see how it fairs at the box office.