For his role as Zeus in the latest installment of the Thor franchise, Russell Crowe had to convince director Taika Waititi that the god of thunder and ruler of Olympus should have a Greek accent.
The Oscar-winning actor fought for the Greek accent, Waititi told Insider in a recent interview. The director wanted the character to have a British accent, something to lend gravitas to the role, like Laurence Olivier did in the epically epic Clash of the Titans.
But would it be a modern Greek accent or an ancient Greek accent? And because the language, like all languages, has evolved, what exactly would that sound like?
“We actually talked at length about the accent,” the director told Insider. “We wondered if someone did a Greek accent of a Greek god, is it going to be a farce? Will it be too silly? And Russell was very much wanting it to be Greek.”
Russell Crowe’s Greek Accent
Waititi said his uncertainty about the accent led him to film two versions of Crowe’s scenes, one with a Greek accent and one with a British accent.
Waititi said he realized in post-production, “it’s actually more offensive to the Greeks to have Zeus sound like he’s British. And test audiences loved the Greek accent. I’m really happy with it.”
Greek audiences have yet to weigh in on whether they find Crowe, a New Zealander who has lived most his life in Australia, offensive in fashioning a Greek accent onto the most powerful of Greek gods.
Movie audiences, however, seem to approve. Thor: Love and Thunder grossed over $300 million in US and international sales at the box office in its first weekend.
In the film, which is part action, comedy, and farce, Crowe does bear a passing resemblance to the many portraits, statues, and busts of Zeus. He’s nailed the curly, bushy beard and flowing locks although his version is a bit beefier and not as sculpted as traditional Zeus representations.
The movie’s official trailer includes Crowe, whose Zeus sounds like a mashup of modern Greek and British accents. Also detected was some Russian, and perhaps a hint of a notable vampire from Transylvania.
Zeus, the greatest of all the figures of Greek mythology, needs little introduction. He ruled over all the assembled gods and goddesses along with his wife, Hera.
He was the god of the sky, lightning, and thunder in ancient Greek religion. His mythology and powers are similar, though not identical, to those of Indo-European deities such as Jupiter, Perkūnas, Perun, Indra, Dyaus and…Thor.
Zeus is also very much a hot commodity lately in Hollywood. It was just announced that Jeff Goldblum will be replacing actor Hugh Grant in the role of Zeus in the upcoming Netflix show, Kaos. Initially, Grant was cast in the role but had to pull out of the dark comedy due to a scheduling conflict. Kaos, which will be in production this summer, is a modern retelling of the famous stories of the Ancient Greek gods written by British actor and writer Charlie Covell.
A long-lost artistic depiction of Zeus is also returning. A massive golden and ivory statue of Zeus that once stood in the temple to the god located at Ancient Olympia has come back after 2,500 years. A replica of the ancient masterpiece has been on display at Ancient Olympia by the Kotsanas Museum of Ancient Greek Technology since July 1st and will remain at the site until September 30th.