Cary Grant’s mid-Atlantic drawl was one of the Hollywood legend’s defining features.
But it has now emerged that the Bristol-born actor ‘faked’ being American throughout his career on the silver screen.
Archie Leach, born in 1904 to a working class Bristolian family, reinvented himself as American to conceal a tortured past and was known to be an intensely private man who rarely gave interviews.
However, Grant remarkably agreed to do an interview with then-film student Kent Schuelke in the 1980s, who was making a film about the Hollywood icon – but only if his voice was not recorded.
It turns out the interview had in fact been recorded after Mr Schuelke’s friend taped the footage without permission.
Isaacs said he approached Mr Schuelke to check whether the the interview had been recorded, saying: ‘He hadn’t played it to anyone in nearly 40 years out of respect and a sense of responsibility, and after much begging he played it to me and I heard the man.’
He added: ‘The first thing I did was look for interviews, and good luck finding an interview with him anywhere. He didn’t want to be seen, he didn’t want to be known. There was nothing at all, only the films, and that’s not what he spoke like. Having broken it down with a dialect coach, his accent changed a lot in the films.
Cary Grant’s real voice will be depicted in a new ITV drama – after a secret tape recording of the star was unearthed after nearly 40 years
The biopic, based on Grant’s life, stars English actor Jason Isaacs, 60. Pictured: Jason Isaacs as Cary Grant
Cary Grant’s mid-Atlantic accent was always one of his defining features
The biopic is about Grant’s discovery that the mother he thought was dead for two decades was actually alive and had been put in a mental institution
Other Brits who faked sounding American
The English actor and singer auditioned to The Wire with an American accent, until a producer asked about his childhood and the truth came out.
Millie Bobby Brown
The British star of Stranger Things spoke and dressed like an American as a teenager on the audition circuit.
The British Twilight star was told by casting directors that his British accent was a concern, so he changed it and would ‘always come in as a different person’.
‘Then I found, through a lot of detective work, someone who recorded an interview with him in the year that he died. It was a young kid, a student who recorded it, and the first thing Cary said when he came on was, ”You’re not recording this, are you? Don’t. I don’t want you to.” ‘
Isaacs added: ‘I heard many of his insecurities. I felt like I’d finally made a real connection with him, and that’s the voice you hear on screen [in Archie]. It’s more English than he is in the movies.’
In order for Isaacs to perfect the distinctive American accent, he was helped by Grant’s daughter Jennifer and her mother – Cary’s ex-wife – Dyan Cannon.
Both are executive producers on the new drama, along with its acclaimed writer, Jeff Pope.
Isaacs said: ‘Jennifer told me he was much more English off-camera and corrected her pronunciation quite a lot.’
The biopic is about Grant’s discovery that the mother he thought was dead for two decades was actually alive and had been put in a mental institution.
Grant, who died of a stroke in 1986, was 31 when his father told him that his mother Elise was in fact alive.
Screenwriter Mr Schuelke told The Telegraph: ‘I sold the interview to Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine, where it appeared in the January 1987 issue. A recording of Cary Grant talking about his life and career is a rare item.’
Grant moved to the US where he established his acting career, where he would become known for his famous mid-Atlantic accent.
Isaacs said: ‘Cary Grant didn’t exist. Cary Grant was someone a man invented because he was so tortured and he needed the love of as many people as he could get, possibly the whole world, to fill a hole inside him.’
Grant has been supported by his fourth wife Dyan Cannon, 57, and their daughter Jennifer Grant, who said: ‘Dad spoke so little about his life, about his boyhood. Sadly I think there was so much shame wrapped up in it.’
Isaacs (pictured as Cary Grant) has taken on a new look as he transformed Hollywood icon Grant
Despite breaking all box office records, Grant was desperately unhappy in his private life
Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story, 1940
Archie Leach, born in 1904 to a working class Bristolian family, reinvented himself as American to conceal a tortured past
Grant, pictured acting with Audrey Hepburn, faked’ being American throughout his career on the silver screen
Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell and Ralph Bellamy in His Girl Friday, 1940
Jason Isaacs has took on a new look as he transformed Hollywood icon Cary Grant in a first look at new ITVX drama Archie.
The Lucius Malfoy actor, 60, will star in the four-part series launching on the streaming platform in November.
The series is directed by BAFTA winning Paul Andrew Williams, who also serves as an Executive Producer, and produced by BAFTA winning Rebecca Hodgson.
Jeff Pope’s scripts reveal how deceit, cruelty and one, overpowering lie shaped Archie’s life.
After staying in the US to try to make his way in showbusiness, a chance meeting with the comedian George Burns helped him find his first footing on the acting ladder, and Cary Grant was born.
But despite breaking all box office records, Grant was desperately unhappy in his private life.