- TV News -How Does Julia Garner's 'Inventing Anna' Accent Compare To The Real-Life Anna Sorokin's?
Shonda Rhimes, a juicy true-life story about a con woman, a cast made for TV lovers — based on the Inventing Anna trailer, it has all the makings of a truly binge-able Netflix miniseries. But before we can get too excited, we must discuss one thing and one thing only: What in the name of Dick Van Dyke is up with Julia Garner's accent in Inventing Anna?
Garner's been known to put on an accent or two. She has won two Emmys doing her Missouri-Southern twang in Ozark. She has experience with a high-pitched, halting Valley girl accent from when she played the real-life Terra Newell in Dirty John. She can even do Britney Spears and Gwen Stefani impressions. But what she is doing in the Inventing Anna trailer is truly baffling.
"I have a question," Garner states when she first speaks onscreen as the real-life Russian-born Anna Sorokin who reinvented herself as the fake German heiress Anna Delvey. "What're you wearing? You look poor."
To be fair, the accent seems to improve after that initial interaction with Anna Chlumsky's reporter. But her pronunciation of "poor" will haunt my days. I could try to articulate how insanely bizarre it is, but I'll let Twitter user shelbyboring's Very Good explanation do the talking — it "vacillates wildly between questionable German, Russian, baby talk, and what can only be described as Borat-pilled. She watched Anne Hathaway in The Witches, and said 'I can do that.'"
Shonda Rhimes told Variety that she was inspired to create the Inventing Anna miniseries after reading a New York Magazine piece on Sorokin. Her accent is described throughout the piece as — "an accent that sounded European," "a familiar German accent," and "the tiny, accented voice." There's also lines about her German-language skills — "she told people she was from Cologne, but her German wasn't very good" and "her classmates remember her as quiet, with an unwieldy command of German."
Her German wasn't all that good because, as New York Magazine explains, Sorokin was born in Russia and didn't move to Germany until she was around 16. After graduating high school in Germany, she also lived in London and Paris for stints before settling in New York City.
All of this is to say that Sorokin's accent is difficult to pinpoint. But does that explain the sounds that are coming out of Garner's mouth?
"To prep the Anna Delvey accent was really hard," Garner told W Magazine (uh, yeah, we noticed). She said she had three weeks between filming Season 3 of Ozark and starting Inventing Anna to learn it. She began with learning a German accent, then added a Russian accent, and sometimes, threw in a little American accent to achieve the sound. She also told Rolling Stone that she visited Sorokin in prison.
Garner told Access (in her Anna accent no less) that "80% of the character development" for the part was based on the accent. "If I didn't get the accent ... this part would be very hard, basically," she said.
From just the trailer, it's impossible to know if Garner nailed the part, though it sure doesn't seem promising? Yet, while the world can agree that the accent's totally unhinged, the better question is: Is it accurate? Here's some vids of the real-life Sorokin talking for comparison.
You get a taste of what Sorokin's real voice sounds like during her sentencing hearing. "I apologize for the mistakes I made," she says into the microphone. Alright, that's not much to work with. But considering she's deleted her Instagram and Twitter accounts, I'm doing my best here.
60 Minutes Australia
OK, now we're talking. Sorokin sat down for an extensive interview for 60 Minutes Australia, so you can skip around in the above video and hear her outrageous accent, outrageous statements, and outrageous lack of mea culpa. She does have a vague European accent (I'm no linguistics expert, but I'd say it's more Russian than German) complete with a dash of American vocal fry when she speaks English.
ABC News' Deborah Roberts interviewed Sorokin, which was featured in a 20/20 special. Again, her high, European voice tinged with an American accent is on display. Also in the 20/20 piece, former Vanity Fair photo editor Rachel DeLoache Williams, who was conned by Sorokin and wrote a book about the experience, shared her first impression of Anna. DeLoache Williams told 20/20, "Her voice was high-pitched. She had a hard-to-place accent. And there was something about her you kind of just wanted to watch because you couldn't put your finger on it."
Well, in that regard, Garner's accent is spot-on. But I can't wait for dialect coach Erik Singer's Wired video on this one.
Image: Aaron Epstein/Netflix