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Mr Niska is a 'recurring' (stars in 2 of 14 episodes) antagonist in Firefly, an old man with a mini empire and a penchant for torture. He's very creepy and has a very distinctive accent, which I always thought sounded Russian, but I'm not always good with accents.

What is the accent used for Mr Niska in Firefly?

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Niska speaks Czech to one of his flunkies

Dej jim za to plátek masa

This translates to "Give them a slice of meat"

This is backed up by the shooting script

NISKA: No, no, no. I insist.
(to Torturer, in Czech) They have enough for a slice.
(to Zoe, in English) I wouldn't want the talk to be that Adelai Niska is a cheat.

and official Firefly RPG Corebook

ADELAI NISKA

Mr. Adelai Niska is a wealthy crime boss with a passel of Scary-Looking Henchmen, a torturer, and a fortified skyplex to call his own. Unlike Badger, Niska is overflowing with charm and is accustomed to playing the part of a fine, elderly gentleman. One might even say he’s downright philosophical. The Georgia System’s notorious gangster is fluent in both Chinese and Czech, at the helm of a close-knit family, and proudly displays a few Earth-That-Was artifacts. His polite, grandfatherly demeanor fools a lot of folk. Underneath it all, Niska is a criminal mastermind obsessed with protecting his fierce reputation.

In the Serenity RPG Big Damn Heroes Supplement, his accent is referred to as "Slavic"

Niska’s voice is soft and he speaks with a Slavic accent.

It seems likely given his Earth-That-Was ties and closely knit family links, that Niska's people originally came from the Eastern European region, hence the preservation of a strong and distinctive Slavic accent.

  • This is interesting information, but doesn't necessarily answer the question of his accent when speaking English. – Rand al'Thor Apr 27 at 13:51
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    @Randal'Thor - The fact that he and his henchman speak Czech to each other in private would strongly suggest (when coupled with his heavy slavic accent) that this is his primary language. – Valorum Apr 27 at 14:51
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    Yup, this is pretty confirmatory evidence that he comes from a Czech background in-universe. I'd still be curious if that fits his actual accent in the series. (For example - pure speculation - it's possible that the actor didn't know a Czech accent specifically and just did a Russian or Polish one, assuming that Slavic accents are all similar enough.) – Rand al'Thor Apr 28 at 19:52

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