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 Cursing Jar. Clemens discussed using different accents and playing a famous one Quiet hill Grade.

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The Cursing Jar is Carey’s story,” reads the film’s synopsis. “A high school music teacher who holds a birthday concert for her husband, Simon, which rekindles memories from 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 with looking 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 author, is so incredible. Strong writing is like my barometer for work, but then what she did with the structure and how she plays with time and structure. I was just really impressed. I had 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 the audience to experience the film the way I experienced it when I read it, and hopefully the way people at the premiere last night experienced it, because there’s 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 and I did 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 images in mind. Smash cuts and things like that – cinematic techniques that she would use. So I needed to know what she was trying to achieve cinematically, and I also needed to know where my character was in the story.

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

Yes, I think it is 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 biggest theme, but about betrayal, about denial, about how denial can kind of stagnate us in time – we’re not really moving anywhere. It’s a great coping mechanism, but it’s not necessarily the healthiest

What did you think about 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 taking pictures The Cursing 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 establish chemistry?

We went out to eat. 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 great to have someone who wanted to consume the material as much as possible.

You also did 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 fun. My accent is something I always try 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 by the time I was eight I had a very British accent. I think the challenge with voice work is that they often want you to do the most natural thing, but it’s hard for people to place. I can do a lot of accents so I would love to do more voice work.

Did growing up in all these places help you make accents more natural?

I was born in Australia, but then we moved to Japan. I was there for two years. Can’t remember, but then we were in Cognac in the South of 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 move around a lot, and especially when you’re moved in and out of schools – I went to 11 schools before I was eight – you have to get in there really quickly, find out what going on, and the sense of humor, you know? I think it gives it … it teaches you an ear, yes.

You also worked on The Great Gatsby. How was the experience of working with Baz Luhrmann?

Oh God. It was like my biggest dream come true. In fact, when I lived in Hong Kong, there was a video store that only had a few English videos that I was allowed to watch. Romeo + Juliet was one of them. So he has always been one of my absolute idols. I also love Shakespeare and I’ve always thought this was such a brilliant adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. He is 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 much fun.

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

It was a lot of pressure. It’s a lot of pressure. I have a lot of respect for the video game world, but it was really fun. i am 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 also in that movie with me. And it was shot here in Toronto.

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