Martin Scorsese speaks Italian

Unpronounceable: How to Properly Pronounce Performers - Part 1

Even TV stations often get it wrong: the pronunciation of actor names.

Some things look simple, but are not, and the embarrassment is there, and fans of film or series who know better, react with amusement or, as hardcore fans, even angry. For example, if you believe just because Kellan Lutz (The Expendables 3) is a US actor, if his surname is pronounced "Latz", you are wrong. Other names are so complicated that you have to look two or three times while reading them.

So if you want to do everything right, we recommend our small selection of the most unpronounceable or apparently simple, but different than perhaps imagined names of actors or directors.

How is Matthew McConaughey pronounced?

From heartthrob to character actor

Oscar winning actor Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club), born on November 4, 1969 in Uvalde, Texas and known from films and series such as The Wolf of Wall Street and True detective, is one of the more complicated names. Pronouncing it correctly is not that easy. It works best like this:

MÄSSJU MÄKAHNAHÄY (in Matthew the English "th")

The international phonetic pronunciation (IPA) looks like this: If that's not enough for you, listen to the audio file and learn how to pronounce Matthew McConaughey correctly:

How is Saoirse Ronan pronounced correctly?

The young talent

Oscar and Golden Globe nominated Irish actress Saoirse Ronan (Grand Budapest Hotel) was born on April 12, 1994 in New York and is best known for films such as Apology and In my heaven. She has already commented on how often one pronounces her name incorrectly, which of course applies above all to her first name, but also to the last name. The correct pronunciation reads like this:

SSIRSCHA RONAN

The audio file and picture with the phonetic representation make it even clearer how to pronounce Saoirse Ronan correctly:

How is Kellan Lutz correctly pronounced?

Little Hercules

The Legend of Hercules-Star Kellan Lutz, born on March 19, 1985 in Dickinson, North Dakota, we met at the premiere of Expendables 3 in Cologne and were able to experience first hand that his name is not pronounced as simply as it reads. The correct pronunciation is like this:

KÄLLEN LÜTZ

To be on the safe side, also here via audio file, as Kellan Lutz is correctly pronounced:

How is Lupita Nyongo pronounced correctly?

She is part of the power

For her supporting role as a slave in 12 years a slave Lupita Nyongo won an Oscar in 2014, and soon she was also in J.J. Abrams Star Wars - The Force Awakens to see. The Kenyan actress and filmmaker was born on March 1, 1983 in Mexico City. Your name looks complicated, but it's not that difficult to pronounce:

LUPITA ENJONGO

To be on the safe side, there is also an audio file on how Lupita Nyong’o is pronounced correctly:

How is Cillian Murphy properly pronounced?

Actor with the distinctive look

Irish performer Cillian Murphy (Transcendence) was born on May 25, 1976 in Douglas, County Cork. You know him from films such as Breakfast on Pluto, Red eye or the Christopher Nolan Batman films Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. You know him on TV from the series Peaky Blinders - Gangs of Birmingham. With Murphy, the first name in particular raises pronunciation questions. Properly pronounced it is like this:

KILIÄN MÖHRFI

Also an audio file on how Cillian Murphy is pronounced correctly:

How is Chiwetel Ejiofor properly pronounced?

The unspeakable all-rounder

The British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor was born on July 10, 1974 to Nigerian parents in London, his full name is actually Chiwetelu Umeadi Ejiofor. The actor is known from films such as Serenity - escape into new worlds and 2012, Oscar-nominated he was in 12 years a slave to see. Chiwetel Ejiofor is correctly pronounced like this:

TSCHUITELL EDSCHIOFOR

You can also listen to this not easy name via audio file, so here is how Chiwetel Ejiofor is correctly pronounced:

How is Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje properly pronounced?

The tongue breaker

The British actor and son of Nigerian parents Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje was born on August 22, 1967 in London. He appeared in films like The Bourne Identity, G.I. Joe - Cobra's secret mission and Thor 2 - The Dark Kingdom on, but you also know him from the series monk. His name is not easy to read, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is correctly pronounced like this:

ÄDIWAHLÄY ÄKJUNUHWÄY AKBAHDSCHÄY

The audio file also makes it clearer how Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is pronounced correctly:

How is Jake Gyllenhaal properly pronounced?

The versatile Gyllenhaal

The actor Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain) was born on December 19, 1980 in Los Angeles and has been special since Prisoners Talking more about yourself again, but his first hit was Donnie Darko - Fear the Dark. Also Enemy we can recommend art cinema fans. The correct US pronunciation reads like this:

JÄIKJUNGLE COLLAR

In Swedish correct, Gyllenhaal's pronunciation regarding the surname would be like this (thanks to Sinthorass for the note):

JIIILENHÄILE (soft "J")

We also have an audio file and the phonetic notation for you, how Jake Gyllenhaal is correctly pronounced (at least in the USA):

Which pronunciation Gyllenhaal would prefer is questionable, as soon as we are sure we will update that.

How is Ioan Gruffudd properly pronounced?

The complicated Mr. Fantastic

British actor Ioan Gruffudd (King Arthur) was born on October 6, 1973 in Cardiff, Wales, and comic fans know him mainly from the Fantastic FourFilm series as Reed Richards aka Mr. Fantastic. His name is also often mispronounced, correctly it reads more like Griffith with regard to the surname, so something like this:

JOÄNGRIFFISS (like the English "th")

Here via audio file how Ioan Gruffudd is pronounced correctly:

How is Sigourney Weaver pronounced correctly?

Dances with the aliens

Every SciFi fan knows the actress Sigourney Weaver from AlienFilm series, she was born on October 8, 1949 in New York City as Susan Alexandra Weaver. Your name is also often mispronounced, especially your first name. Properly pronounced it reads like this:

SSIGOARNI WIIWER

Here also via audio file how Sigourney Weaver is pronounced correctly:

How is Ralph Fiennes properly pronounced?

Avada Kedavra

The British actor and director Ralph Fiennes is correctly called Ralph Nathaniel Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes and was born on December 22nd, 1962 in Ipswich, Suffolk. He was mostly using Schindlers List known and appeared in numerous films such as The English patient and the Harry PotterFilm series on. His surname likes to be a puzzle when it comes to pronunciation, read how it is pronounced correctly:

RAIF FAINZ

Also on this via audio file and phonetic notation, how Ralph Fiennes is pronounced correctly:

How is Djimon Hounsou pronounced correctly?

The challenge

From model to dancer to actor - Djimon Hounsou is a Benin-American actor and was born on April 24, 1964 in Cotonou, Benin. You know him from films like gladiator, DCs Constantine or Marvels Guardians of the Galaxy. Its name already suggests that it is easy to pronounce it incorrectly, read here how it is pronounced correctly:

DSCHAIMENHANSSU

When properly pronounced, Djimon Hounsou sounds like this via audio file:

How is Martin Scorsese pronounced correctly?

The world famous director

In addition to actors, there are of course directors with names that are often mispronounced. Martin Scorsese (Cape of fear) is a well-known and very successful director, screenwriter and producer and was born on November 17th, 1942 in Queens, New York City. His list of films is long, including Hugo Cabret and The Wolf of Wall Street. Scorsese is also making a name for itself on TV as a co-creator of the series, for example Boardwalk Empire. Properly pronounced, his name reads like this:

MARTIN SKORSSIHSI

Also an audio file and the phonetic notation, correctly pronounced Martin Scorsese sounds like this:

How is Steve Buscemi pronounced correctly?

He rode the bomb

Since we're already on the gangster series Boardwalk Empire are: The leading protagonist of gang boss Nucky Thompson is led by Steve Buscemi (The Sopranos), a US film and stage actor and director. He was born on December 13, 1957 in Brooklyn, New York City and is also from films like Desperado, Armageddon - The Last Judgment and On the way - on the road known. His name looks simple, but at your own request it is pronounced differently than you might sometimes think:

STIHF BUSEHMI

Here is an audio file and the phonetic notation so that you don't think we made a typo; Steve Buscemi is correctly pronounced like this:

How is Kyle MacLachlan properly pronounced?

As Paul Atreides in Twin Peaks

Since we're already with film and series actors: Kyle MacLachlan (Twin peaks) is a US actor and was born on February 22, 1959 in Yakima, Washington. You know him from films like Dune - The desert planet, Showgirls and Timecode. His surname likes to raise pronunciation questions, correctly pronounced like this:

KAIL MÄKLOKLEN (speak the "e" briefly, as in bells)

There is also an audio file for this, properly pronounced Kyle MacLachlan:

Of course, we too have to refer to partially contradicting sources on the Internet, be it Wikipedias Information on phonetic notation, audio files from native speakers or videos from US reporters. Some names are clearly evidenced by the pronunciation of the actor or director himself, so we could find them. So if someone should find a better source from the actor or director himself for some names that deviates from our information, please let us know by comment so that we can pronounce all names correctly as well as possible.

You can find part 2 and part 3 of our special on the correct pronunciation of unpronounceable actor names here!