Julia Schlaepfer plays Alexandra in 1923. Her character is a beautiful British woman from a powerful and wealthy family. Alex leaves all that behind to run away with Spencer Dutton, but she, of course, still has a refined way of speaking. Her accent is very different than the way a modern Brit would speak, and Schlaepfer spent quite a bit of time perfecting it.
Julia Schlaepfer is not a British actor
It might surprise some fans to learn that 1923 star Julia Schlaepfer is not actually British. The 27-year-old actor hails from Bellevue, Washington, and she hadn’t even seen Yellowstone when she first auditioned for the prequel series.
“My parents loved Yellowstone and 1883. I have never seen either of them, and they would pester me and my brothers to watch all the time,” Schlaepfer joked to Deadline while explaining how she was cast in 1923.
“I got the audition, read the script, and just fell in love with the story and character, of course,” the actor continued. “When I got a callback, Taylor Sheridan flew me out to Jackson Hole to screen test. I read with Taylor as Spencer for the role. By the end of the audition, we were all crying in the audition room together.” The next morning, Shclapefer found out that she had landed the role.
Julia Schlaepfer worked with a dialect coach to perfect her ‘1923’ accent
When Spencer Dutton first meets Alexandra, she is engaged to another man. Alex comes from a wealthy British family, and though her fiancé is kind, their future marriage isn’t much more than a business transaction. Alex fears her days of adventure are over, prompting her to run away with Spencer Dutton.
Alex’s proper way of speaking contrasts sharply with Spencer’s speech. Julia Schlaepfer auditioned for 1923 using a British accent, so she knew right away that it would be a requirement for the role. “I studied accents at NYU, so I had a base level of an accent going on,” the actor told Deadline.
However, Schlaepfer also had to refine her accent to match the decade, as well as her character’s posh upbringing. “They got me this amazing dialect coach who helped me specify it to the 1920s royalty that she is,” Schlaepfer continued. “I was doing a modern British accent when I went in for my audition. We honed it into this Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth-type of accent.”
Helen Mirren adopted an Irish accent for ‘1923’
Julia Schlaepfer isn’t the only actor to adopt a different accent for 1923. Dame Helen Mirren plays Cara Dutton, an Irish immigrant and the wife of Jacob Dutton. Mirren is originally from London, but it was important to her that she adopts an Irish accent for the series.
“One of the things I very strongly wanted was that she would speak with an Irish accent, not with an American accent,” the actor told Vanity Fair. “It’s always slightly annoyed me with Westerns that you have all these people speaking with modern American accents when in fact, so many of them were fairly recent immigrants.”