The Good Place’s resident snob Tahani Al-Jamil doesn’t have much acting experience — aside from being Baz Luhrmann’s glitter muse, of course — but she certainly commits to her role in Thursday night’s episode of the NBC sitcom. In “Rhonda, Diana, Jake, and Trent,” Tahani and her three pals must don disguises to sneak into the Bad Place, which leads her to concoct the transatlantic twang and chutzpah of “Rhonda Mumps,” a hot-dog factory torture-worker with a chic bob and penchant for shoving meat into people.
Jameela Jamil, the British actress who plays Tahani with great egotistical panache, recently told Vulture how she crafted Rhonda’s accent for the episode. “Oh God, I’m so sorry about my American accent. I didn’t have any friends until I was 19, so I grew up with television as my best friend — and most of the TV I watched was American,” she said. “I got all of these voices in me from my favorite actresses, which dates all the way back to Marilyn Monroe or Lauren Bacall and all of these iconic actresses. I probably went a bit more Lauren Bacall when I was doing that accent. I have such a romantic love and adoration for American film and TV, so I’ve probably been practicing this a long time without even realizing.”
In fact, Jamil didn’t know she would need an accent until “a minute” before the table read for the episode, which gave her zero time to practice any sort of dialect. She admits that she even surprised herself with how great it sounded at the spur of the moment. “I had to do a voice-over in front of the entire writers room,” she said. “I never ever heard my own American accent at this point. So in front of Ted [Danson] and Kristen [Bell] and all of these studio executives, I had no idea what was going to come out of me, but I had to do that voice in front of everyone. Thankfully it went alright, but that was harrowing!”
For that, we raise our Arkansas bagels in appreciation.