The Regime: Does Kate Winslet Have a Lisp in Real Life?

Image Credit: Miya Mizuno/HBO

Every character comes to life in a distinct and fascinating manner in HBO’s ‘The Regime.’ The limelight shines on Kate Winslet’s Elena Vernham, the leader of a Central European country who pushes for dictatorship as she makes some drastic changes in her policies and her approach to running the country. Winslet brings an eccentricity to the character, which makes us laugh and scares us of Elena at the same time. Her unpredictability, which intensifies with each episode, adds to the thrill of the story and posits a sense of doom for her country. Apart from her increasingly authoritarian leanings, one of the things that are rather noticeable in Elena’s character is her lisp. How does that factor into her story?

Elena’s Lisp and Accent are Intentional Choices by the Actress

When it came to bringing Elena Vernham to life on the screen, Kate Winslet was given complete creative freedom to choose however she wanted the character to appear to the audience. The writers had created a roadmap for her to give her a sense of who Elena was and what she was headed for, based on which Winslet made some choices about the character, and the lisp is one of them.

Image Credit: Miya Mizuno/HBO

Those who have followed Winslet’s career over the years know that the actress doesn’t have a noticeable lisp. For the character of Elena, however, she speaks in a unique way, even using a different accent than her own. For Winslet, the idea for her character to have a speech impediment was very much related to expressing Elena’s emotional insecurities and vulnerabilities. She wanted Elena to feel like a front to the audience; she wanted them to see that Elena was never really putting her real self out there, which is why she couldn’t entirely be trusted.

The lisp is one of the many things that Elena tries to hide about herself. So, when the audience notices it, they immediately know that she is putting up an act. When Elena tries to hide the lisp, it shows she is presenting herself as someone who shouldn’t be trifled with, someone who is the leader of a nation and must be taken seriously. However, there are times when her lisp becomes prominent, and this is when the audience knows that her mask is starting to slip and she is feeling vulnerable.

For directors Stephen Frears and Jessica Hobbs, the addition of the lisp made complete sense. They said it reminded them of “an old-fashioned movie star.” They also revealed that during the filming of the show, the cast was deliberately asked to come up with their own accents, as it would create a disparity in pinning down their origins, making it difficult for the audience to figure out which country they belonged to. It would maintain the anonymity of Elena Vernham’s nation, keeping the audience confused and engaged at the same time.

Winslet (and the other actors) understood their assignments very well, and all of them brought something interesting to the table. For Winslet, the addition of the lisp really sets her character completely apart from the rest by giving her an additional thing to work on, apart from the accent.

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