‘Talk This Way’

After more than 20 years of reading The New Yorker, I still never know what I’m going to find.

Yesterday I found a Westporter I never heard of.

Brad Pitt

Tim Monich helped Missouri native Brad Pitt speak like Tennessee hillbilly Aldo Raine in "Inglourious Basterds"

Talk This Way,” by Alex Wilkinson, profiles Tim Monich.  He’s got 1 of those fascinating jobs you never think about, or even know exist:  He teaches actors to talk.

Talk, that is, the right way for whatever role comes their way.

The New Yorker says:

Tim Monich taught Brad Pitt to talk as if he were from somewhere deep in the mountains of Tennessee.  He taught Matt Damon to speak as if he were South African, and Hilary Swank to speak like Amelia Earhart, who was from Kansas but had gone to boarding school near Philadelphia….

In early September, having nearly finished teaching Gerard Butler, who is Scottish, to speak as if he were from New York, for “The Bounty,” Monich began teaching Shia LaBeouf, who is from Southern California, to speak as if he’d grown up on Long Island, for “Wall Street.”

Tim has helped Donald Sutherland — a Canadian — speak like a South African, an Englishman, a wealthy New Yorker, a Kansan, a Georgian, an Oregonian, a North Carolinian, a Mississippian, a Michgander, a Minnesotan, and a member of the Polish politburo.

Sutherland said:  “He’s not a mechanic, and he doesn’t impose.  He comes in from underneath and supports your instincts; he doesn’t try to define them.  There are many people who do what he does, and by and large they offer constraints.  He offers liberation.”

His Westport home includes 6,000 recordings — “almost surely the largest private one of its kind” — of people talking.  They represent an enormous variety of places, periods and social stations — including tapes of Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, Teddy Roosevelt’s daughter and, from 1890, John Wilkes Booth’s brother Edwin reciting Othello.

It’s a fascinating piece.  The New Yorker, as it often does, shines a spotlight on someone who would never wander into it himself.

The fact that Tim Monich — despite living in our arts-oriented town — has managed to stay out of our own spotlight for all these years, makes The New Yorker story all the more special.

One response to “‘Talk This Way’

  1. I was fascinated by this article also when I saw it last week in the New Yorker, maybe I will renew our subscription! Tim has interesting voice collecting techniques; and I say he does seem to get great results; and his wife Linda is a talented artist- a dance choreographer and great fun.