Alison Brie says her success is a fluke, but her accented acting in this month’s The Five-Year Engagement proves that fortune favors the prepared.For several weeks early last year — and for no reason in particular — Alison Brie would transform herself from a born-and-bred Californian into a full-fledged Brit for a few minutes each morning. On a lark, she started popping an English-accent CD into her car stereo on her way to work, with no plans to use her new skill for anything specific.
So when, a few weeks into her informal training, Brie’s agent called in a slight panic asking her to prepare an English lilt for a table read of this month’s The Five-Year Engagement, Brie didn’t sweat it one bit.
“I thought, ‘Oh, how perfect,’ ” the 29-year-old actress recalls. “It felt like it was meant to be.”
Brie stars as the sister of Violet Barnes (Emily Blunt), a bride-to-be whose nuptials to her fiancé (Jason Segel) are continually delayed. To perfect the accent, Brie worked closely with a dialect coach prior to filming, and during production, she received audial instruction from her on-screen sis.
“Emily had made a tape for me just telling a story so I could start listening to her accent,” Brie says. “At the end of it, she would give me this little pep talk: ‘All right, Alison, you’re going to nail it.’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, I am!’ ”
Brie’s forays into film — which include this year’s Save the Date, another wedding flick that debuted at Sundance — were pre-empted by small-screen parts that earned her plenty of praise and scores of loyal fans. One of the first was Trudy Campbell, the wife of a 1960s advertising exec on AMC’s Mad Men, which premiered its fifth season last month. Brie won’t offer up any hints about the new season — not that she could if she wanted to; the lauded show is notoriously tight-lipped with its storylines.
“It kind of makes it more honest,” she says. “Because, if you look at the past few seasons, Trudy doesn’t know what’s going on.”
To top it off, Brie is balancing another regular gig — as Annie on NBC’s critical darling Community — leaving her with a packed schedule that has forced her to master time management. Just a few years removed from her days doing regional theater in California, she is amazed how such good fortune befell her.
“Total dumb luck,” she says. “It was like throwing spaghetti at a wall. I don’t know how I got so lucky to land all these amazing projects.”
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