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How acting voice helped Emily Blunt overcome stammer

Monday 24th December 2018
Emily Blunt has revealed how the technique of speaking with a different voice helped her overcome a stammer - and go on to be a successful actor.
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Actress Emily Blunt has revealed how being taught to speak in a "silly voice" enabled her to overcome a serious childhood stutter.

In an interview with American news channel CBS about her role in the new Mary Poppins film, Ms Blunt revealed how her stutter was "really bad" by the age of 12, at a time when she suffered severe teasing at school, and that she hardly ever spoke as a result. 

Then, she explained, everything was transformed: “The person who changed my life with it was my teacher at the time who told me to do the class play. And I said no. And he said, ‘Well, do it in a silly voice. I’ve heard you doing silly voices.’ And I could speak fluently. Actually, there are so many stutterers who are actors.”

That comment about actors would not have been lost on an American audience. Famous people with stutters listed by the Stuttering Foundation of America include actors such as Charlie Sheen, Eric Roberts, Bruce Willis and Nicole Kidman. 

Using different voices is one way in which speech therapists can train people with a speech impediment to speak clearly. Often the problem is psychological, but in other cases, it can be mechanical. 

Speech impediments can also be hereditary and Ms Blunt revealed earlier this year that she still has problems with her speech at times, particularly when tired. Noting that several members of her family have had similar issues, she worries that her three children may develop the problem as well. 

Around 60 per cent of people with a stutter have a family member with a similar condition, with other causes including psychological trauma and strokes. Around one per cent of the population is affected, with children between two and six years of age the most likely to have a problem. 

Written by Martin Lambert

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