Hollywood dialect coach Erik Singer has become the internet’s go-to critic when it comes to judging movie accents, so it was only a matter of time before Singer weighed in on Robert Pattinson’s wild Southern drawl in the recent Netflix release “The Devil All the Time.” Singer, who has worked as a dialect coach on studio tentpoles, such as “Terminator: Dark Fate,” “Mulan,” and Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming Elvis Presley biopic, tells GQ in a new interview that he was left fascinated by Pattinson’s work as the villainous pastor Preston Teagardin.
“I mostly loved it,” Singer said of Pattinson’s accent. “First of all, I haven’t seen this noted anywhere, but the character’s actually from a different world. He’s from down in Tennessee. The fact that he does sound a little bit different from everybody else is in support of the story that they’re telling. There are a great many sharply and specifically observed features that are right for the place and time.”
“He’s a preacher who is absolutely in love with his capacities with language,” Singer added, noting the exuberance in Pattinson’s vocal delivery is a character trait and thus not a slight on his accent work. “He’s buying into his own magic, and he’s intoxicated by it.”
The one flaw Singer shared about Pattinson’s accent was his character’s opening monologue about chicken livers, to which Singer said he believed the actor was “not completely dialed in.” Other than that, Singer said, “I think his music and rhythm and melody is really fascinating work. It’s both of the place and time, but also of the character and his profession, and deeply idiosyncratic.”
Singer noted the best accent work in “The Devil All the Time” was performed by Swedish actor Bill Skarsgård (“he sounds 94 percent like a native speaker of American English”), but the dialect coach also singled out Riley Keough. Considering the bulk of the “Devil” cast is made up of British actors (Pattinson, Harry Meling, and Tom Holland) and Australian actors (Jason Clarke, Mia Wasikowska, and Eliza Scanlen), Singer was impressed by how authentic the ensemble sounded, adding, “Overall, I’d say it was highly successful.”
“Devil” director Antonio Campos revealed last week after the release of the Netflix film that Pattinson refused to hire a dialect coach to help him craft his Southern accent. Pattinson was the only member of the cast not to work with a coach. “The Devil All the Time” is now streaming on Netflix.