Recently, we had a Chicago Tonight guest I particularly enjoyed. Actor Alan Cumming is the host of Masterpiece Mystery and is having a stellar career in film, television and on Broadway. He was on to talk about his new book, Not My Father’s Son, a riveting book about growing up with a brute of a dad who abused Cumming physically and emotionally. Cumming is a charismatic and compelling guest and the interview went well.
But he said two things off-camera which I wish we’d had time for: one had to do with his (surprising to me!) friendship with Monica Lewinsky. They have been friends for years and she was even in Cumming’s wedding party. He says her main fault was that she was a 22-year-old woman who fell in love with her boss, the most powerful man in the world, and that the country owes her an apology for how she was pilloried in public.
The other thing he said that was of particular interest to this former wannabee actor had to do with why Brits do American accents so well (and not always the other way around.) He said that much of what’s shown on British television comes from the states so that British kids grow up listening to American accents. Actors, especially, use this to their benefit and–with a good ear–can emulate a fairly convincing American accent based on their countless hours watching American television shows as children.
Not so we Americans. Most of us hear British accents in adult fare like Downton Abbey. And it makes sense; I mean, how many of us watched Scottish Saturday morning cartoons growing up?