Apple TV+’s ‘Emancipation’ stars Will Smith in the role of Peter, a man who escapes slavery and goes through an unbelievably trying series of events to ensure his freedom. The film is based on a true story and approaches the narrative in a way that makes it very realistic for the audience. Apart from the stirring plot of the film, it also falls on the actors to inhabit their roles and create a greater impact. Smith, especially, has to make Peter instantly accessible to the audience in terms of his personality and his emotions. The actor takes over the role with complete sincerity and gets everything right, from his expressions and his body language to the way he speaks. If you are wondering what accent Smith has adopted in the role of Peter, then here’s what you should know.
What Accent Does Will Smith Have as Peter?
In ‘Emancipation’, Peter is revealed to be from Haiti. At Baton Rogue, he says that he was born in Haiti and that’s where his parents were from. We know that his wife is also from Haiti because they talk with each other in Haitian Creole. This means that they have not been in America since birth and because they grew up speaking another language, they have an accent while speaking English.
Peter’s native language is Haitian Creole which is a French-based language. Thus, we see a hint of that accent when he speaks in English. Extrapolating from here, we see that his story takes place in Louisiana, which also has a French connection of its own. The state became a French colony in 1699 and remained so until 1803, it was sold to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase by Napolean Bonaparte. Its history has given a French twist to the place, which also appears in its language and accent. Several dialects, spoken in the southern part of the state, fall under Louisiana French.
With all this in mind, it makes sense why Peter’s character doesn’t speak English like an American. To keep things consistent with his story and the background of his character, actor Will Smith adopted the Haitian accent to give a more realistic touch to his portrayal of the man whose picture would become one of the most impactful things during the Civil War. It is clearly not Smith’s real accent, as the actor was born and raised in America. However, over the years, he has portrayed the roles that demanded him to take on an accent. For example, he adopted a Nigerian accent in ‘Concussion’, another film based on a true story.
The actor hasn’t yet specified how he prepared for the role, however, he has talked about why ‘Emancipation’ was such an important film for him. “I’ve always avoided making films about slavery. In the early part of my career… I didn’t want to show Black people in that light,” Smith said. He agreed to take on the role of Peter because he found that the story was more about love than slavery or vengeance. “This was one that was about love and the power of Black love. And that was something that I could rock with. We were going to make a story about how Black love makes us invincible.” Because love and family are such an important part of the story, it was important to keep Peter true to his roots. This shows from everything in his beliefs, like his unwavering faith in God, to the language that he speaks and how its flavor shows in the second language that he later adopts.
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