Cruella, as fans know, speaks with an incredibly posh English accent in 101 Dalmatians. Despite her best portrayals coming from American actresses – Emma Stone and Glenn Close – Cruella is a proper British villain, with her background steeping in eccentricities and high fashion.
According to the experts at the language learning app Babbel, there is a long heritage to the RP accent (received pronunciation) which has helped form the reason why it works so well when put with villains in movies.
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, the experts said: “Why is the accent so villainous? This is due to its connotations.
“Accents and dialects provide cultural shorthands to tap directly into popular stereotypes.
“The stereotype of British Received Pronunciation is someone smart, suave and often sneering.
“The accent comes with a connotation of power, which links to our associations with the British Empire.
“It lends villains in films a certain level of sophistication and gravitas, even if only imagined.”
As well as that, the stereotypes have been added to by big companies by Disney, who favoured this voice when casting its villains.
The experts continued: “Ever since Alan Rickman captured American audiences in Die Hard and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, or in Peter Cushing’s Star Wars and Anthony Hopkins’ Silence of the Lambs — the default evil ‘movie accent’ of choice is British Received Pronunciation.
“Disney, in particular, likes to cast female British villains: from the evil queen in Snow White to Cruella de Vil from 101 Dalmatians, their villainesses share a common accent.”
So much of the stereotypes linked to the RP accent are, as the experts explain, steeped in the historical context from which they come, and the link to being ‘posh.’
The experts added: “British Received Pronunciation (BRP) originated during the late 18th century, originally spoken among the upper classes of England, before spreading across the establishment and the far reaches of the British Empire.
“A posh accent was, and still often is, regarded as a sign of ‘superior’ social status, as it was historically associated with those who went to public schools, such as Eton, and elite universities like Oxford and Cambridge.
“Even today, figures from across British society, including the royal family, use British Received Pronunciation.
“Stereotypically, it’s still regarded by some as being the ‘proper’ way of speaking.
“In the past, many people adjusted their accents to be more ‘posh sounding’ in order to fit the stereotype of working in a prestigious role.
“Now, however, in a somewhat less marginalised society, we hear regional accents from across the UK in our news reporting and throughout the media.”
Emma Stone, who is playing Cruella, has a particularly tough job on her hands to nail the perfect villain accent, and Babbel experts suggested some tips for her, as well as highlighting how the eccentricities of Cruella may aid a slightly more bombastic accent.
They said: “In the exciting trailer for Cruella, there are some signs that Stone pulls off the accent…
“Her clipped, staccato pronunciation of words like ‘Cruella’, ‘nicked’ and ‘poetic’, all sound pretty accurate, too.
“Of course, the choice vocab in places, such as ‘I’m just getting started darling’, help her to sound more British – that line in particular sounds quintessentially posh, and lends itself to the soft ‘r’ sounds of a BRP accent.
“What doesn’t particularly help Stone, is that she shares scenes with the actor Emma Thompson, who is both British and known for her roles that feature a posh BRP accent.
“We must keep in mind though, that Stone is playing a villainous cartoon character, so an over-the-top approach to sounding British-and-evil, can’t hurt when it comes to portraying Cruella.”
Fans can find out whether they think Emma has managed to nail her accent by watching the movie.
Cruella is out in cinemas and on Disney Plus now
Published at Sat, 29 May 2021 13:47:12 +0000