UnNews:Hugh Laurie Suffers Injury, Contracts Foreign Accent Syndrome
25 May 2007
By Ed Nivek
Laurie, the Golden Globe-winning star of Fox's House, suffered a brain injury on May 20th, leaving the actor with a rare condition known as Foreign Accent Syndrome. Fox executives state that, while filming an episode of the medical drama, Laurie (in character) twirled his cane vertically. On one of the takes, the actor misjudged the cane's position, sending it into the back of his head and knocking him unconscious.
He was rushed to UCLA Medical Center, where doctors discovered a small bruise on his brain in the area that controls speech function. The doctors determined that his life was not in danger. However, when he awoke the following morning and began speaking, he spoke with an American accent.
"We originally believed he thought he was still on set," said executive producer David Shore, who was at the hospital when Laurie awoke. "However, when he began to freak out about the way he was speaking, we began to suspect that something was wrong. I mentioned this to him, and when he proceeded to stand up and start choking me, that confirmed it."
"Needless to say, this further confuses an already confusing situation."
Confusing indeed. It's especially confusing for those unfamiliar with the actor's work in British television in the 1980s and 90s, most notably as George on the last two series of the Blackadder programs. Most now know the story of Laurie having to create his American accent for the show.
The situation for Laurie, however, doesn't end there. On May 22nd, the actor returned to work on the set in Burbank. He figured that he would only have to speak naturally to get the desired accent. However, taping of the episode had to be halted when he wouldn't stop speaking with a British dialect.
"I've become conditioned," Laurie said, "to try to speak in a different accent than my own. Despite my attempts to speak normally, I naturally switched to speaking a different dialect, which happened to be British. I've never gotten such odd looks in all my life."
When asked how the events made him feel, Laurie sighed and said, "I've come to terms with it a bit. At least I didn't wind up sounding French. Just in case things don't get better, I'll start learning to reverse my patterns." He then attempted to say "Stiff Upper Lip." However, it still came out with an American accent, so he became depressed and started chugging a bottle of Jack Daniels.
Laurie isn't the only one completely astounded by this incident.
"It makes my head hurt," one fan said after hearing the news. "I had just gotten over the fact that he sounded American but wasn't. Now, I don't know what I'm going to do. It's too confounding. I may just throw my television out the window and go read Moby Dick. It's sure as HELL less puzzling than this."
Doctors said they will take a wait-and-see approach with Laurie. If he doesn't get better after a few weeks, they said drastic measures may have to be taken. These measures may include another knock to the head to reverse the process or subjecting the actor to a ninety-hour Monty Python marathon.
Meanwhile, producer David Shore isn't sure what he'll do with the actor next season. He said that Laurie won't return for the season finale, and to take attention away from the issue, they'll kill off Omar Epps' character. When asked why, Shore said, "Meh, he's used to it. Saves us from contract renegotions, too."
- Hugh Laurie "'Hurrah!' Said the Fat, Flatulent Ghent." Poppies Publishing, September 13, 1998
- Omar Epps "How to Play a Doctor who Dies." County General, Inc., October 31, 2000
- Ed Nivek "Why I'm Not Bullshitting You." Confusion, Inc., March 31, 2000