Historian who trained Mel Gibson in borders accent for new movie is not impressed with results

Ben Arnold
Contributor
Mel Gibson in The Professor and the Madman (Credit: Vertical)

A historian who trained Mel Gibson to speak like he was from the Scottish Borders in new movie The Madman and the Professor has said he’s not hugely impressed with the results.

The first trailer landed for the long-in-gestation (that’s another story) movie, which tells the story of lexicographer James Murray and his creation of the Oxford English Dictionary.

Read more: Mel Gibson on his Wild Bunch remake

In it, Gibson plays Murray, with Sean Penn as Dr. William Chester Minor, a convicted murderer who contributed 10,000 entries to the lexicon while being treated in the asylum at Broadmoor.

Historian Ian Landles was hired to school Gibson in the Borders brogue, but has told The Scotsman that it ‘could have been better’.

Landles was sent samples of the script, which he read out over the phone. This was then recorded and sent to Gibson in order to perfect the accent.

“It may pass as a Scottish accent but not particularly a Borderer,” he told the newspaper.

“It’s okay, I suppose, but I think it could have been better. I was contacted by the voice coach about two or three years ago and he sent me sections of the script which I read back to him over the phone.

Read more: Gibson accuses movie producers of film scam

“I didn’t get a hefty fee for the work from Hollywood, I can say that.”

For some, it’s bringing back memories of Braveheart, in which Gibson’s accent while playing freedom fighter William Wallace was roundly lampooned.


The movie is emerging after spending years in development hell.

(Credit: Rex/FameFly.net)

Based on the book The Surgeon of Crawthorne by Simon Winchester, Gibson and his production company Icon Entertainment sued producers Voltage Pictures over the film’s final cut.

The company also sacked Gibson’s long-time collaborator Farhad Safinia, with whom he made the movie Apocalypto, and later claimed that Gibson was trying to hold them to ransom over huge reshoots.

Voltage also claimed that Safinia turned up on the first day of shooting without a contract in place, and had tried to up his fee by $75,000 two days before filming.

Rights to the film were acquired by Vertical Entertainment in January, with Safinia no longer credited as director.

Also starring Natalie Dormer, Steve Coogan and Eddie Marsan, it’s due for release in May.