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In Babylon 5, the character of Londo Mollari speaks with a very distinctive accent, which you can hear for example in this video:

It's certainly not the actor's real accent. It may be meant to be a sort of Centauri accent, since Lord Refa has what sounds like a toned-down, less strong version of the same accent. It sounds vaguely Mediterranean to me (Spanish? Italian?), but I'm not sure. I'm curious as to how Peter Jurasik came up with this accent, and what if anything it was based on.

Was Londo's accent based on any real-world accent, or if not, how was it designed?

  • Though Refa and Londo seem to be the only Centauri with that accent! Most of the others seem to have refined English accents - presumably to give that "Empire" feeling... – colmde Aug 22 '17 at 15:57
  • @colmde Refa's accent was different. – Rand al'Thor Apr 27 at 13:52
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Per this interview, it's a mix of Czechoslovakian and the parole officer (Mr Deltoid) from the film 'A Clockwork Orange'. It's supposed to convey a sort of "courtly" tone.

Jurasik: The quick story about the accent, if I can tell you how I patchworked it together, is I was doing a play downtown, a Tennessee Williams play, and I worked really hard on a Memphis accent. I felt like I had really nailed it. But one L.A. critic nailed me and said, "That’s a terrible Memphis accent. That doesn’t sound like a Southern accent." I was really hurt. About that time was when "The Gathering," the pilot, showed up. I called Joe and said, "What do you want me to sound like?" He said, "Let him sound like whatever you want," so I purposely took a couple of different things. There’s a character who plays the parole officer in A Clockwork Orange, the guy who’s always saying, "And night-time is the best time, um, yes?" I took my Czechoslovakian grandmother. I had spent three consecutive summers in Ireland. I didn’t always take sounds; I took rhythms. Londo had a kind of musical thing.

Peter Jurasik (Dr. Geiger) Chat at I.D.I.C Online on July 10, 1999

Apparently there's also a little bit of an irish brogue in there as well. Note that he's told the story so many times that the quote below is almost identical, despite being nearly two years apart.

Jurasik: The story I always tell in conventions, which is true, is I had just finished a play in Los Angeles, a Tennessee Williams play, and I had gotten bad reviews for a Memphis accent that I did. And I had worked really hard on this Memphis accent, and I had it nailed perfectly and people from Memphis said to me, "Wow, you sound like you grew up next door to me." Then some dumb ass reviewer said, "That's not a very good Memphis accent."

IGNFF: From L.A.

Jurasik: Yeah, from L.A. He wouldn't know a Memphis accent anyway. But being the insecure actor that I am, I took that hard. You take stuff like that, when it's in the L.A. Times, it hurts you anyway ... When I got Babylon, I realized this is a great opportunity for me. I will be the first Centauri, and I can make him talk anyway he wants, and no reviewer will ever be able to say, "That's not what a Centauri sounds like. What a terrible Centauri accent he's doing." Because I'm the first Centauri, so I make him talk any way I want. So, I made the accent up, a kind of amalgam of a number of different accents. I used a little of my Slovak grandmother, and I mentioned Ireland; I love the rhythms of Irish. So I mixed it up and made it my own.

AN INTERVIEW WITH PETER JURASIK


In-universe, showrunner JMS described it as being associated with the upper classes, hence why younger (and lower class) Centauri like Vir have a different accent but that Refa and Emperor Turhan sound similar.

Q. Speaking of Londo's accent, I'm assuming that different Centauri accents represent people from different areas of the planet? Anything significant in all this, or just a bit of differentiation?

JMS: No, we've just always assumed that not everyone on any given planet is going to speak with the same accent as everybody else from that planet. Seems more realistic.

Certainly, among Centauri, a certain accent is more associated with the "old school" of court nobility and the like.

JMS: Aol Chat

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I think he took many different kinds of accents, including the upper class British, Mediterranean and Transylvanian and combined them with the accent he used for Sid the Snitch on Hill Street Blues.

  • 1
    Do you know what kind of accent he did as Sid. This would make sure your answer remains valid in the case that link gets taken down. – Edlothiad Aug 22 '17 at 15:25

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