The Serpent: Jenna Coleman stars in BBC series trailer
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The Serpent has been a huge hit with viewers across the nation, as BBC recreate the twisted time-line of serial killer Charles Sobhraj’s crimes in their latest drama. Jenna Coleman, 34, plays the role of the French killer’s girlfriend Marie-Andrée Leclerc, and while she has been praised for her believable Canadian-French accent, she admitted she spent months practicing how to deliver it.
It was a beast, an absolute beast
The series is based on real life events, where Sobhraj preyed on Western tourists throughout the Hippie Trail of Southeast Asia during the 1970s.
In a recent interview, Jenna likened learning the accent to that of “My Fair Lady”, as she had to train herself to use various muscles in her mouth to ensure it sounded legitimate.
She explained: “It wasn’t a case of just learning the lines in French – it was about the delivery, the muscularity.
“It was a beast, an absolute beast.”
Jenna continued: “The accent uses different parts of the mouth to English speakers, so it was like My Fair Lady – I spent the first four weeks just training muscles in my mouth to get certain sounds.”
The Victoria actress revealed her French teacher taught her the lines phonetically.
“When people speak naturally, they condense their language, and in the time I had this was the only way that I had to get to that point where I could embody the character and not stumble with the pronunciation,” she shrugged.
With the pressure of playing a French woman on top of her other work commitments, there did come a point at the time she was offered the role when she wondered if she should accept.
Jenna admitted: “I was doing All My Sons at the Old Vic at the time, and I said, ‘There’s no way I can take this on – you need to cast a French actress.’
“I’ve been a fan of Tahar [Rahim] since he starred in the movie A Prophet more than a decade ago.
The script had these scenes where we flip in and out of French and English, so you need to believe them as a bilingual couple.
“I was asking, technically, how can we make this work?”
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But despite her reservations at the beginning and the extra work put in to portray her character just right, she doesn’t regret her decision to take on the challenge.
“There was definitely something about filming this series that felt really special,” she told Radio Times.
“I don’t know if it was being so far away in Bangkok, telling a real story, something about the spirit of the 70s, the number of things that went wrong while filming, the labour of love that it took from us all to make it.
Jenna’s full interview is available to read now in Radio Times [RADIO TIMES]
“I knew from the moment I read the script that I loved it, so I’m glad other people do, too.”
Jenna’s full interview is available to read now in Radio Times.
The Serpent is available to watch on BBC iPlayer and Netflix.
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