Dakota Johnson spent months perfecting her British accent before filming began on Persuasion.
In Netflix’s film adaptation of the classic Jane Austen novel, Johnson plays Anne Elliot, who was persuaded to break off her engagement to her true love Frederick Wentworth because he lacked a title and a fortune. The film picks up eight years later when Wentworth returns and rekindles their old feelings.
As the only American in the cast, Dakota was determined to master the British accent and took a long time to get it right.
“I started training, like dialect training, a few months before we started,” she told Vanity Fair in a career retrospective video. “That was the biggest thing for me was making sure I was at least OK with, you know, speaking with an English accent. If I was dragged for that, I’d jump off the planet. I still think it could be better, but that’s how I’m about everything.”
In the film, Anne often breaks the fourth wall and speaks directly to the audience, which was an odd feeling for Dakota as the technique goes against the rule that actors should never look into the camera.
“The script was written in a way, a bit like Fleabag, where the main character breaks the fourth wall and talks to the audience, so it was fun,” she explained. “It was very, very interesting…I had never worked with that dynamic on set with a camera before. It made me feel a little more connected knowing that it was OK to include the camera. It was really weird. It was all you were taught not to do.
Persuasion is streaming on Netflix now.