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How Hollywood star perfected Black Country accent by working in Wolverhampton shop

By Thomas Parkes | Wolverhampton | Wolverhampton entertainment | Published:

"We said if the acting thing falls apart there's always a job for you here."

Charlotte Clark, Beanie and Stef Butler outside the Shop in the Square store

Bostin'! An American actress who stars in a film about Caitlin Moran's semi-autobiographical book worked in a shop to help perfect the accent.

Beanie Feldstein took on the role of serving customers in the Shop in the Square, opposite the Man on the 'Oss, for two weeks to prepare for her role as Johanna Morrigan in How to Build a Girl.

The movie, which has been adapted from the hit book of the same name, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on Saturday.

Shop workers Suzie Lavender from Claregate, and Becky Forster from Penn both worked with Beanie during her short time in June last year.

And a segment – along with interviews – were filmed with staff members to be potentially used for a "behind the scenes" section.

Shop workers Becky and Sarah with Beanie (centre)

Suzie said: "She was supposed to go to another shop for a week, but she loved us so much she stayed.

"She was gorgeous, happy and smiley, and lovely and always had a big grin on her face.

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"Her voice coach said tell her off but we found it really difficult to.

"I remember there was an a vowel and we were like it's pronounced 'ugh' not 'ah'."

Becky, aged 34, added: "There was a couple of younger people who were like 'I know you, but I'm not sure'' and she was doing the Black Country accent.

"It didn't seem to make sense to people she was here.

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Shop manager Charlotte Clark with Beanie

"We're all a bit crazy and she's part of the family here – she was so lovely.

"We were all really upset when she left.

"She went Liverpudlian a few times and her voice coach came with her and asked how we said words, or sentences.

"She was like 'how do I say this phrase?'

"She slipped into Scottish, Liverpudlian, Welsh and Brummie a few times."

The director of the film held discussions with Charlotte Clark, the manager of the shop which has moved into the Mander Centre, to host Beanie.

And the actress spent her time away from the shop in Nutmeg, Farmers Fold, and raved about their lasagna.

Becky Forster is interviewed

"They were like 'it's an actress' and we were expecting someone like from a university – we didn't expect Jonah Hill's sister," Suzie, aged 40, said.

"My daughters were like 'oh my god'.

"Beanie chatted to my daughter for ages because she's got a really proper accent.

"And she lamented the fact she was not creative enough like the people in the shop, and we were like you're an actor – you can hang out with Bette Middler, I think you're doing alright."

Becky added: "Her Wolverhampton accent was slow and controlled and then, at the end of the day, she slipped back into the American accent at it was like ''wow'.

"You can pick her accent apart but how far she's come is really impressive.

"By the time she left we all really wanted to see the film.

Suzie Lavender is interviewed

"We liked her as well and we want her to be our best friends – but she's too busy for that.

"She bought a few presents for the shop as well and took them back home to her."

The film sees the American actress take on the role of a teenager living in the city during the 1990s, who has an urge to reinvent herself by moving to London.

The character answers a call from a music magazine for new writers, and despite not knowing anything about contemporary music, starts reviewing concerts and records.

But sensing that sarcasm earns her more favour with her editors, Johanna reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde – who soon becomes renowned for her witty take-downs.

Caitlin Moran, the author behind the book, praised Ms Feldstein's performance on social media.

"To be fair, my girl went well native and served herself up as a bostin' Yam Yam wench," she said.

She added: "We got at standing ovation at the Toronto International Film Festival and we’re all tearful and freaked out."

Thomas Parkes

By Thomas Parkes
Trainee Reporter - @TParkes_Star

Trainee reporter at the Express & Star, based in Wolverhampton. Got a story? Get in touch at thomas.parkes@expressandstar.co.uk.

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