Beanie Feldstein has admitted she found the idea of attempting a Wolverhampton accent “daunting” for her role in the film adaption of Caitlin Moran’s novel How to Build a Girl, so she decided to really throw herself into the role.
Here’s some news that, especially for any Midlanders out there, feels like a brilliantly bizarre clash of worlds. We’re rather delighted to discover the lengths that Booksmart star Beanie Feldstein has gone to in her bid to master the Wolverhampton accent for her latest role.
Feldstein stars in the new film How to Build a Girl based on the bestselling 2014 semi-autobiographical novel of the same name by Caitlin Moran. It’s based on the author’s late teens and how she fought her way out of poverty on a council estate in Wolverhampton to become a junior writer at a music magazine, becoming very rock and roll in the process.
It’s understandable that as an American actor attempting to put on a British accent, opting for a plummy Queen’s English often feels like the safest option.
But in this case, Feldstein understood just how crucial getting a good grasp on the West Midlands twang was when preparing to play Johanna Morrighan, an accent we can all sympathise isn’t the easiest to nail for someone from sunny LA.
That’s why Feldstein took it upon herself to go to Wolverhampton and actually work in a gift shop for two weeks, serving locals and doing it all with as much authenticity as she could manage – which, as BBC News reports, wasn’t all smooth sailing.
“The West Midlands is a place I know very well and love very much now. For preparation, I went to Wolverhampton for two weeks and I worked in a store, and I had to speak in the accent the entire time I was working,” Feldstein recalls.
“The first week I did not fool anybody! But then by the end of the second week with a little help from the girls I was working with – they would yell at me when I got something wrong – by the end of the week I felt much more comfortable.”
Speaking in an interview with People and Entertainment Weekly, Feldstein also opened up about how “daunting” she found the experience, saying: “I was shaking like a kid on the first day of school. I was like, ‘Please don’t make me go in!’”
But in the end she did eventually get a grip on her character’s voice, and it was the word “lovely” that helped her. “Once I had that one word I thought, ‘Okay, maybe I can do this,’” she added.
How to Build a Girl premiered on Saturday (7 September) at the Toronto International Film Festival and received a standing ovation, much to Moran’s delight. The author and writer of the script described the reaction as “insane” on Twitter and said that she felt “tearful.”
Although a British release date has yet to be confirmed, you can bet we’ll be charging our way into cinemas when it is, in order to see Feldstein’s no doubt wonderful performance and enjoy Moran’s always hilarious writing.