Aidan Gillen Game of Thrones Interview Littlefinger

Professional dialect coach analyzes the accents on Game of Thrones

Littlefinger Official

Ever wonder if there’s any rhyme or reason to all of those great accents featured on Game of Thrones? Do the accents change depending on where in Westeros come from, or does it depend on the actor? John Fleming, a Toronto-based dialog and speech coach who teaches actors how to tackle accents, sees a pattern. “They’ve separated the seven kingdoms, to a degree, by dialect,” he tells Metro. “So all the people from Winterfell speak with a northern accent; something a little bit closer to Manchester or up in that belt between Manchester and Scotland.” Think Ned Stark or Jon Snow.

That contrasts nicely with the Lannisters, all of whom employ ‘Received Pronunciation’ (RP), the fancy southern British accent.

Ygritte and Jon Snow

It’s worth noting that while Game of Thrones actors come from all over the United Kingdom (and beyond), many alter their accents to better fit the parts of Westeros where their character grew up. Metro even created an interactive map to chart the differences. Click and listen.

Below, Fleming guides us through some of the particulars of how the actors shape their characters’ accents.

The Lannisters: southern posh, or ‘Recieved Pronounciation.’ When Peter Dinklage speaks for Tyrion Lannister, he employs a distinct halt between each phrase, which Fleming thinks is characteristic of an American putting on an RP accent.

Fleming notes that Liam Cunningham (Davos) “has a very thick Irish accent,” and he is “one of the only people on the show who puts on a Geordie accent…which is from Newcastle … right up in the northeast, near the Scottish border.”

Actress Rose Leslie is a member of the Scottish nobility educated in England, “but she puts on that very quintessential northern English accent” for the role of Ygritte.

Check out the complete Metro article for more samples. But before we go, Fleming has an interesting read on Littlefinger ever-morphing accent.

11 Comments

  • Samuel Tarly is from Hornhill under the Tyrells in the South. Technically,he should still have a Southern (GoT-wise) accent and not at all a Northern one because he didn’t grow up there or anything. As for the LF accent “masking,” it’s still not consistent. When he talked to Cersei S1 vs S5 promising Sansa’s head, it’s also very different. But all in all, the actors are amazing and I love how the series looked into the accent specifics.

  • The Northern accent portrayed on GoT is based on Sean Bean’s native accent being from Sheffield, South Yorkshire, or tyke as we call it. Confusing it with a Manc accent is actually a faux pas, stemming from our history, i.e. The War Of The Roses.

    • Bean can do RP but he’s often allowed to go regional, very appropriate here. Mark Addy is from York and sounds fairly Northern even though Robert is from the South. Most of the North actors do a reasonable Yorks/northern accent. Kit and Richard Madden come closer to Bean. The Stark kids (Maisie, Isaac, Sophie) don’t, but they have an excuse as their mother is a Southron from the Riverlands. Sophie is quite RP but Sansa is aspirationally posh and a Southron at heart so it works. Of the Scots actors only Rory shows his origin occasionally, which I think rather endearing. The many Irish actors generally cover their accent tracks well. Littlefinger’s inconsistency bothers me, but it seems gradual. Maybe Aiden Gillen (Ireland) is getting lazy about it or maybe he’s trying to show a man unraveling over the years as the pressures build.

    • Very true. You’d think a professional dialogue coach would know the difference between a North West English and Yorkshire accent. Ygritte’s accent was closer to Mancunian. Sean Bean just used his own South Yorkshire accent.

  • It’s amazing how many people simplify “British accent” to Manchester and London. This article does it pretty badly too. There are over 50 accents, typical article from someone clueless about the subject.

  • Ygritte’s accent is the worst northern accent ever. Also, I think people from the riverlands should be “brummies”. That would be hilarious. Non English people wouldn’t have a clue what’s being said “yam alroight bab, warrabout yow”

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