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Mysteries of Hollywood Pronunciation -- Revealed!

by Sam Adams
October 15, 2013 10:06 AM
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It makes Chiwetel Ejiofor sad when people mispronounce his name.
It makes Chiwetel Ejiofor sad when people mispronounce his name.

Follow enough movie critics on Twitter, and with some regularity you'll come across something like this:

Tweet 2

But take heart, would-be authorities: Empire's "Hollywood Pronunciation Guide" is here to help. Its 50 entries cover not only recent arrivals like David Oyelowo and Saoirse Ronan, but long-standing bugbears like Martin Scorsese and Steve Buscemi, which even people who've worked with them for years are apt to get wrong. Ordinarily, slideshows drive us nuts, but in this case, you might need the second it takes to click through to commit the proper phonemes to memory. In case you're not the patient type, we've compiled an index to the troublesome monikers (skipping over such bizarre inclusions as "Wes Anderson"). You might want to bookmark this post for future reference in case anyone gives you a hard time for saying Mia Wasikowska's name properly. Sure, they may look at you like Wallace Shawn in Manhattan, but it's a small price to pay for being right.

Chiwetel Ejiofor

Zooey Deschanel

Ralph Fiennes

Adewale Akkinnuoye-Agbaje

M. Night Shyamalan

Chloe Sevigny

Martin Scorsese (Hear the Golden Globes announcer and Robert DeNiro get it wrong here.)

Mia Wasikowska

Milla Jovovich

Rachel Weisz

David Oyelowo

Zack Galifianakis

Saoirse Ronan

Steve Buscemi

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

Mireille Enos

Lena Headey

Colm Meaney

Charlize Theron (Another option from the Afrikaaner herself.)

Famke Janssen

Cillian Murphy

Gabourey Sidibe

Kim Basinger

Amanda Seyfried

Nicolas Winding Refn


  • Jemima | October 16, 2013 5:28 AMReply

    You have misspelled 'pronunciation' in the title. #trololololol

  • Less Lee Moore | October 15, 2013 9:52 PMReply

    The Scorsese link goes to the page for Chloe Sevigny.

  • TC Kirkham | October 15, 2013 5:16 PMReply

    I disagree with "Disappointed"- as a podcast film critic as well as a print one, I appreciate knowing how to pronounce names that I'm not sure about. And by the way, you forgot the two names we REALLY had fun with on Subject:CINEMA when they first cropped up: Quvanzhane Wallis and Michel Hazanavicius...:-)

  • TC Kirkham | October 15, 2013 5:20 PM

    Oh and I forgot - the Wes Anderson one was likely included because Brits prefer the Zed sound for first names ending in S - hence they included him probably because he's not pronounced "Wez Anderson"... :-) Just thought you'd like to know...heh heh

  • Disappointed | October 15, 2013 11:30 AMReply

    Wow I feel like i'm on yahoo's homepage or buzzfeed. How about you stick to your websites name and focus exclusively on indie material. I don't give a shit about the pronunciation of Amanda Seyfried. Just tell me more about Denis Villeneuve's "An Enemy" and Jonothan Glazer's "Under The Skin" not to mention Dan Gilroy's "Nightcrawler". Come on guys, this isn't supposed to be a OMG hollywood website for f's sake.

  • Sam Adams | October 15, 2013 12:08 PM

    Click on the Criticwire header above and there's coverage of Escape From Tomorrow, Joanna Hogg's Exhibition, Godard's Hail Mary and First Name: Carmen, CBGB, and the new Hayao Miyazaki film. Plenty of indies in there.

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