The Australian Accent
For six months, to anybody that would listen, I was like, if we don’t get it right, no matter how good [the rest of the miniseries] is, I’m going to get creamed for this accent! In the end, it actually helped, because it made me work hard on it, to the point where Jane [Campion, the director] and my dialect coach would say, “It’s going to be OK. You can do it. Don’t worry.” They were trying to calm me down, and I was saying, “No, you guys, this is serious. I have to get this perfectly.” And I also felt an allegiance and a responsibility to the project, because I didn’t want to let anybody down.
I had to do a little bit of the accent to get the part, so I saw a dialect coach in L.A., Carla Meyer, who’s wonderful, and she helped me for a couple sessions so that I could do a little bit and put it on tape and send it to them. I got it, and then I had a different dialect coach who worked with me on the project. Her name is Victoria Mielewska and she was incredible. She worked with Kate Winslet on Holy Smoke and Nicole Kidman. She’s like the Australian dialect coach de rigueur. She was very calm and relaxed and was saying, “You can do this. It’s going to be OK.” I continued to stress about it and worked on it every day for three months before I got to New Zealand. Then when I got to New Zealand, for a month I met with the dialect coach almost every day and just practiced, practiced, practiced. I would talk in the accent, she would make me describe things around me and point things out and do it in the accent, and then we moved on to doing specific lines.