Jason O'Mara Talks Accents and Accidents
Jason O'Mara was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland but if you're a fan of the actors, you might not know that. After all, he hasn't used his true accent on screen in more than a decade as he's played Americans in everything from Terra Nova to One For The Money.
So accents have become a way of life for Jason, so naturally they took precedence when I chatted with him earlier this week about the DVD/Blu-ray release of One For The Money, co-starring Katherine Heigl as the iconic Stephanie Plum from Janet Evanovich's immensely popular series of novels. Additionally, we chatted about the future of his canceled Fox series, Terra Nova, and what you can expect from his new CBS show!
Insider.com: The Stephanie Plum books are insanely popular -- does that add on additional pressure when making a big screen adaptation?
Jason O'Mara: It did initially because you realize all these people have a preconceived idea of what they want Stephanie, Morelli, Ranger and all the characters to be like. You worry about living up to people's imaginations and expectations. The fans of Janet's books are so passionate and they are a legion. Hopefully we were able to win fans – new and old – over with our vision of this world.
Insider: You rock a pretty spot-on Jersey accent, how did you approach finding what Morelli sounded like?
Jason: Well, I had an accent coach on set which help – as I always do, because I'm not from these parts. But by the same token, I wanted to avoid the Italian, gangsta, stereotypical "New Joisey" sound. An accent can easily overwhelm a character, so I just tried to get a little flavor of the town in there. My goal was not to sound Irish or like I was from the West Coast, and I think I did that [laughs].
Insider: How long has it been since you used your natural accent in a project?
Jason: I haven't used my Irish accent for more than 10 years. I just did a small role in an indie that Lake Bell directed called In A World, and working with Michaela Watkins was the first time I used my true accent in a decade.
Insider: After spending so much time sounding like other people, was it odd to be in front of a camera sounding like yourself?
Jason: [laughs] It was a bit weird. There were a few times on Lake's movie that she asked me to be more Irish [laughs]. It's about the voiceover world and she wanted it to be strong. When I talk on the phone to my family back home they accuse me of talking like a yank now [laughs]. And here they ask me to lose my accent. I'm always caught somewhere over the mid-Atlantic.
Insider: Your new CBS show Vegas (a period drama about Ralph Lamb, a Las Vegas sheriff who battled mobsters in the '60s) was just picked up -- who do you play in that and what kind of accent can we expect?
Jason: Dennis Quaid plays Ralph and I'm his brother, Zach Lamb – who is a mostly fictional character. Ralph had a lot of siblings in real life, so we're compressing a lot of people. Michael Chiklis plays a mob boss and Carrie-Ann Moss plays a district attorney. I'd just come back from shooting Lake's movie and I had to sound like a Nevada cowboy. It all came together at the last minute, but I didn't really have time to prepare an accent, so I was flying by the seat of my pants on that one. I didn’t want it to sound too southern or too Texas. Fortunately Dennis Quaid is from Texas, so he was able to modulate it a little bit. I just wanted to make sure I sounded like I grew up in the same house as him. Sometimes I'm on set and thinking, "What accent am I supposed to be using right now?" [laughs] You can go insane, but I like it.
Insider: Is an accent an accent or are some harder than others?
Jason: Scottish is really hard. Some parts of the south – when they want a Louisiana, New Orleans is really difficult. It's easy to go Texas but you've got to stay in Louisiana. Sometimes I do a Welsh accent and I sound like I'm from Bangladesh [laughs]. You have to be very careful. One For The Money was hard because I wanted it to be subtle – I was constantly pulling back from sounding like the cliche.
Insider: Your Fox series, Terra Nova, had a very strange journey to cancellation -- with rumors of a Netflix pickup lasting months before finally being kiboshed. How do you feel about where that project left off?
Jason: I hate that the season ended on a cliffhanger. I was just talking about this on Facebook with my fans – they were talking about the controversial Life on Mars ending, but I told them that the fact we even had an ending is a great achievement because we were given two weeks to wrap the whole thing up. We did the best we could with the time and money allowed. With Terra Nova, there is still this cliffhanger for people who invested 13 hours of their lives into watching the thing. And we don't even have a shred of resolution. It really irks me. I think it was because I was a part of it for so long.
Insider: Fans haven't stopped talking about some sort of conclusion project. Do you have any idea what that might look like, story-wise?
Jason: The short answer is no: we don't know what the badlands were, where the ship came from and what happened to Lucas Taylor. We don't have those answers, but we could have them – maybe we need to get a graphic novel. I just know there are enough passionate fans to make it worthwhile, we just need someone to give us money.
One For The Money hits DVD and Blu-ray tomorrow, click here to order.