I started listening to Ronan Farrow’s explosive new book, Catch and Kill, this week, and it’s very good and important and shocking, but if you’ll let me put all that aside for a second, I’d like to highlight something something specific about the audio version, which is that Ronan Farrow does a wide variety of accents in it: Russian for a spy he encounters, high-pitched and sultry for Rose McGowan, an attempt at a New Zealand cadence while recalling a conversation with Peter Jackson, etc.
After this fact drew a bit of attention on Twitter, Farrow explained his decision to do accents to Variety: “I did work as an anime voice actor earlier in my career in a small way, and it was important to me to do as much justice as possible to the really brave characters.” He also insisted they weren’t meant to be “full impersonations,” but rather a means of distinguishing between different people in service of the reader.
Personally, I find the voices distracting, but have a listen for yourself. TV writer Craig Rowin rounded up a number of examples, the most notable of which are below.
Tough Ukrainian Guy
This guy and another mob-type figure feature in the book’s prologue, when it’s still unclear what role they’ll play in the rest of the book’s events. When I heard them I wondered if he’d just do mob-guy voice (an accent just about every aspiring actor who’s ever been on Law & Order has attempted at least once), but there was so much more yet to come.
Farrow’s Trump is pitched up a few octaves, which you have to imagine Trump would hate. You can almost hear him squinting as part of the impression.
Howard the Australian
This one is my favorite. Farrow really does sound Australian to me, though actual Australian people might feel differently. “I hev sumthin’ ehmyy-zin!” Ha. Howard!
Anna the Spy Lady
I’m not yet this far into the book, so this one is new to me, but I will say that here Farrow reminds me of a friend of mine from college who, no matter whom she was trying to impersonate — Harry Potter, someone from Texas, Julia Child — ended up sounding unspecifiably offensive.
Listen as Farrow affects his take on Perez’s trademark New Yawk–Puerto Rican accent (with a bonus F-word).
Rowin didn’t post clips of Farrow doing his “woman” voice, which is mostly high and girlish (except for his Rose McGowan, which is quite breathy), but those are the ones that stick out to me most, though maybe not in the way he intended.