In the teaser clip for the new movie, Joaquin uses his regular American accent to play the historical figure, who was born on the island of Corsica off the coast of Italy, before moving to the French mainland as a child.
Casting English-speaking actors as famous people from history from non English-speaking countries always prompts a bit of a dilemma.
Should the performer speak English using a foreign accent (for example, in Ridley’s previous film House Of Gucci, with the cast’s Italian accents ranging from subtle to Super Mario)? Should everyone just adopt a generic, Downton Abbey-esque British accent? Or, indeed, should they just speak in their everyday voices?
Joaquin, it seems, has adopted the latter approach, but the rest of his co-stars – including Vanessa Kirby as Napoleon’s wife, Josephine – have all adopted British accents, which only makes the lead’s decision stand out all the more.
Joaquin’s character choice has already prompted debate on social media, with some voicing the opinion that it was a “weird” move, and pointing out that “everyone else has an English accent in this movie about France”.
However, others have praised the move, suggesting that we “don’t need actors to have history-reflected accents in period epics”.
In other words, a film about Napoleon in English is never going to be a truly accurate reflection of his life, so why get hung up on their voice?
For some movie-lovers, the accent actually makes some sense given the historical context: as a Corsican, Napoleon’s voice would have stood out in comparison to people from mainland France.
And then there were those viewers who were just disappointed that Joaquin didn’t go all out with an over-the-top French accent……
We’ll have to wait until 24 November, when the film is released in UK cinemas, to get a better sense of whether Joaquin’s decision was the right one or not…