American comedians excel with European accents

Yesterday, while watching Hotel Transylvania with the family, I was struck by the quality of Adam Sandler’s voice acting job, playing Dracula. I have never been a fan of Sandler. In fact, after starring in 12 movies grossing USD 100 million from 1998 to 2011, this – his 13th USD 100 million hit – is the first Adam Sandler movie I have ever seen. Naturally, the reason I went to watch the film is because I didn’t have to see him playing one of his stock man-boy characters. Instead, Mr. Sandler delivers a surprisingly endearing performance as the father who doesn’t want his daughter to grow up or leave home. And the key to making it work was his East European accent, which of course is a pre-requisite for any actor who wants to play the legendary vampire. The first time this character was brought to the big screen in 1931, it was Hungarian actor Bela Lugosi who played the character and so, the East European accent came naturally. This set the template for screen Draculas of the future and so, for Mr. Sandler to deliver a believable Dracula, he had to get the accent right. Well, I have to say, full marks to the man for getting it right.

This brought to mind the performance of another American comic, Steve Carrell who played a similar scary-guy turned caring father in 2010’s Despicable Me. In this film, Carrell played Gru, the super-villain, with an Eastern European accent. Gru won audiences’ hearts by having to overcome his own prejudices and put the interests of his little girls before his own. It certainly looks like Adam Sandler used Steve Carrell’s performance as a model for his Dracula performance.

And, since Hollywood is so good at packaging old wine in new bottles, don’t be surprised if you see more American comedians being cast in similar roles with East European accents in the near future!

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