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How Julia Garner came up with Anna Delvey's accent for 'Inventing Anna'

Julia Garner said perfecting Anna's German/ Russian accent was the key to "nailing her character."
Julia Garner takes on the role of Anna Delvey in "Inventing Anna."
Julia Garner takes on the role of Anna Delvey in "Inventing Anna."Aaron Epstein / Netflix

In the new Shondaland Netflix series "Inventing Anna," Julia Garner plays Anna Delvey, a socialite scammer who swindled tons of people out of their money. But, aside from Anna's con-artist behavior, she has a very unique accent that isn't so easy to identify.

Julia Garner said that she studied Anna Delvey's accent extensively before they started shooting. "I wouldn’t allow myself to just go on screen and do a half accent. I’m a perfectionist," Garner said in an interview.

Anna Delvey's accent is a mix between Russian and German, creating a strange cacophony of pronunciations that Garner had to nail to play this role. "I want everyone to Google how she sounds," Garner said.

In real life, the real Anna Delvey was born in Russia, grew up in Germany and then moved to New York when she decided it was time to change her identity. The real Anna had to tactically take a lot of the Russian out of her accent when she moved to America so that she could convince people she was from Germany.

In order to truly study the accent, Garner went right to the source. She visited Delvey in Albion Correctional Facility in Buffalo, New York to get a first-hand idea of what the accent sounded like — and show creator Shonda Rhimes even taped hours worth of video footage to give to Garner so she could study the accent in her spare time.

Recently, Garner went on "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon" and talked about how she practiced the accent leading up to filming the show — and even walked through the accents with Jimmy, starting first with her German accent, and building little by little with Russian and American elements.

"So first, I had to do like a European, German accent, right? But it's very subtle, you have a vocal fry at the end of it. And then I had to add a little Russian for certain words... and then it gets Americanized because you know how Americans add a little question to the end of everything? Europeans don't do that," she told Jimmy Fallon.

Shonda Rhimes herself described the accent as "very specific, and very real, and very Anna...," according to Netflix's Tudum. There was no way we could do the show without incorporating it because it also lent itself to the idea that you had no idea where she was from. It lent to her mystique."

And, what's more, Garner had to balance rehearsing this Russian/German accent with filming "Ozark," where she has to act with a deep, Southern accent. "It was really hard. I’m not going to lie," Garner said.

You can watch the premiere of "Inventing Anna" on February 11 on Netflix.