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Why does Gillian Anderson switch between an American and British accent?

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Fans have been left wondering what was going on with Gillian Anderson’s accent, after the British actor gave her Emmys acceptance speech in an American accent.

Anderson took home Best Supporting Actress in a Television Series at last night’s awards ceremony (19 September) for her performance as Margaret Thatcher in The Crown.

Viewers were left baffled, however, when the actor delivered her acceptance speech in an American accent. Anderson has spoken in an English accent for the majority of her TV appearances in recent years.

This is not the first time that the 53-year-old has sparked confusion over her accent.

At the Golden Globes earlier this year, Alec Baldwin quipped about the conversation surrounding Anderson’s accent in connection to the controversy surrounding his wife, Hilaria, and the questions regarding her own Spanish accent.

Despite mostly being recognised as a British actor, Anderson is bidialectal, meaning that she is proficient in using two dialects of the same language, in this case a London accent and an American one.

Anderson was born in Chicago, Illinois but was raised between Puerto Rico and London. She moved back to the US at age 11, and spent sufficient time both there and the UK to become accustomed to the two accents.

In the wake of her nine-season run on The X-Files, Anderson moved permanently back to London, where she has worked on British TV series including The Fall and Sex Education.

Gillian Anderson at the 73rd Primetime Emmys in London (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
Gillian Anderson at the 73rd Primetime Emmys in London (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Anderson opened up about her accent in an interview last year, explaining: “It goes back and forth because I grew up in both places, so it depends on who I’m talking to.

“So usually when I’m talking to Brits, it slides into British, and vice versa for American.”

The actor admitted that the switch is sometimes “conscious” because she knows that “somebody will be thrown by it”.

The Golden Globe-winner said that most of the time, however, she “literally can’t help” switching between accents depending on who she is with.

Anderson’s award last night (19 September) was only one of many received by Netflix’s hit period drama The Crown.

Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher in season four of ‘The Crown’ (Des Willie/Netflix)
Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher in season four of ‘The Crown’ (Des Willie/Netflix)

Her co-stars – Olivia Colman (as Queen Elizabeth II), Josh O’Connor (as Prince Charles) and Tobias Menzies (as the late Prince Philip) – were also feted with acting wins.

The Crown was named Best Drama, beating out Bridgerton, Lovecraft Country, Pose, The Boys, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Mandalorian and This is Us.

See the full list of winners here as well as the biggest snubs and surprises from last night (19 September) here.

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