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Interview: Adelaide Clemens On Accents & The Swearing Jar

ComingSoon Senior Editor Spencer Legacy spoke with Adelaide Clemens about her role in the recently released drama The Swearing Jar. Clemens discussed using different accents and playing a famous Silent Hill character.

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The Swearing Jar is Carey’s story,” reads the film’s synopsis. “A high-school music teacher who throws a birthday concert for her husband, Simon, which rekindles reminiscences of their past. Through comedy, music, and memory, we follow the story of Carey and Simon’s relationship, the birth of their child … and the lie that threatens to f*&k it all up!”

Spencer Legacy: What drew you to The Swearing Jar?

Adelaide Clemens: I read the script and was blown away. Kate Hewlett, the writer, is so incredible. Strong writing is sort of my barometer for work, but then what she did with the structure and how she plays with time and the structure. I was just really impressed. I’d never seen structure used in a way that informs the character’s state of mind. I don’t want to give too much away because I think it’s really important for audiences to experience the film as I experienced it when I read it and, hopefully, how people at the premiere last night experienced it, because there is a reveal. I think that’s an important part of an audience’s point of view.

Was it difficult to film two different timelines?

Yeah, I just had to be really organized. I just read the script over and over and over again, and I created two timelines: a chronological timeline from Carey’s point of view, and then … what we’re doing in the story, because Lindsay [MacKay], the director, had very specific, beautiful shots in mind. Smash cuts and things like that — cinematic techniques that she wanted to employ. So I needed to know what she was trying to achieve cinematically, and I also needed to know where my character was at, in the story.

Is there a lesson that you hope people take away after watching The Swearing Jar?

Yeah, I think it’s a thought-provoking piece. I think it’s a moral dilemma that’s really interesting [that] Patrick [J. Adams]’s character goes through. And then I think it’s a commentary on … I don’t want to say the largest theme, but on betrayal, on denial, on how denial can sort of stagnate us in time — we don’t really move anywhere. It’s a great coping mechanism, but it’s not necessarily the healthiest

What did you think of filming in Canada?

Oh, I love filming here. I love it. Last year was a very Canada-heavy year for me. I was in Hamilton shooting The Swearing Jar and then also in Calgary shooting Under the Banner of Heaven.

Speaking of Under the Banner of Heaven, you played the wife of Andrew Garfield’s character. What work did you two do to kind of establish chemistry?

We went out to dinner. We hung out as much as we possibly could. He has an incredible work ethic and I love that too. I love running lines. It was wonderful to have someone who wanted to consume the material as much as possible.

You’ve also done a bit of voice acting in Voltron. Would you be interested in more voice work in the future?

Oh, I love voice work! Voltron was funny. My accent is something that I’m always trying to … they wanted my accent in Voltron and my accent is quite … it’s not quite Australian and it’s not quite British, because I grew up in Hong Kong and I went to a British international school. So when I was eight, I had a very British accent. I think the challenge with voice work is that they often want you to do what’s most natural, but that’s hard for people to place. I can do lots of accents, so I’d love to do more voice work.

Did growing up in all these places help you do accents more naturally?

I was born in Australia, but then we moved to Japan. I was there for two years. Don’t remember that, but then we were in Cognac in Southern France. French was my first language. Then we were in Hong Kong for five years and then, eventually, moved back to Australia. So I think as a kid, when you’re moving around a lot, and especially when you’re moved in and out of schools — I went to 11 schools before the age of eight — you’ve got to really quickly get in there, figure out what’s going on, and the sense of humor, you know? I think it gives it … it teaches you an ear, yeah.

You worked on The Great Gatsby as well. What was the experience of working with Baz Luhrmann like?

Oh my God. It was like my biggest dream come true. Actually, when I lived in Hong Kong, there was a video store that only had a few English videos that I was like allowed to see. Romeo + Juliet was one of them. So he has always been one of my absolute idols. I also love Shakespeare and I always thought that was such a brilliant adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. He’s so exciting to work with. There’s so much energy and he really challenges you and trusts you … kind of throws stimuli at you, which was so fun.

You played Heather Mason in Silent Hill: Revelation. What was it like to portray such a beloved character from an already established series?

It was a lot of pressure. It’s a lot of pressure. The video game world, I have a lot of respect for, but it was really fun. I’m Australian, [and] a lot of us are very athletic, so I loved the physical side of the role. I had a great time. I actually just ran into Malcolm McDowell, who was in that film with me also. And that was shot here in Toronto.


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