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A particularly prominent example of a rolled r user is the actor Jeremy Brett, who played "Sherlock Holmes" in the 1980s Granada adaptations. I've noticed that several other actors, especially from the older generation, also use the rolled r. Is this something that actors are or were taught to do at drama school? If so, why?

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Where? Are you American/English/Scottish/…? (BTW, Jeremy Brett apparently overcame a speech impediment and overcompensated by rolling r's, according to random internet sources.) –  ShreevatsaR Aug 6 '10 at 2:21
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Yes...but any voice training would depend on nationality/ dialect. –  kitukwfyer Aug 6 '10 at 2:56
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@Kinopiko: It doesn't matter where you are, but it matters where the actors you're talking about are, and what you consider "prominent". There's not enough context to answer the question ("what are actors taught and why") without it. Presumably if you were in Scotland you wouldn't find rolled r's uncommon. –  ShreevatsaR Aug 6 '10 at 3:00
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Which "rolled r?" In this case, we would benefit from a standard phonetic orthography. –  Charlie Aug 6 '10 at 3:14
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An interesting question, but ultimately about acting, not English usage. Voting to close. –  Pops Aug 6 '10 at 5:31
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2 Answers 2

It really depends where the actors are from. Some drama schools would teach it, others would not. But a great many people in England roll their r's since birth, and I am not sure about Warwick, but it is possible that Jeremy knew how to roll his r's a long time ago.

As for me, I can easily roll an 'r' as can most of my Kiwi friends. So, no need to learn it in drama school.

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Many actors are taught to enunciate clearly, perhaps to ensure their lines are heard above a snuffling coughing audience, or to counter unpredictable acoustics in some theatres.

I'm sure that some actors who had trained for the stage would have then applied stage techniques to the screen, where close mics and sound stages would have made those old tricks unnecessary.
It's possible that the rolling "r" would be one of those tricks.

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<insert Singin' in the Rain reference here> –  mmyers Aug 12 '10 at 22:40
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