Julia Garner, who is playing infamous scam artist Anna Delvey in Netflix’s Inventing Anna, graces the cover of Town and Country. (Photography by Danny Kasirye)
For a while, it seemed you couldn’t escape the headlines surrounding scam artist Anna Delvey, the fake socialite who tricked her way into the upper echelons of New York City’s elite before being convicted of fraud in 2019.
Posing as a German heiress for nearly four years, Delvey (whose real name is Anna Sorokin) swindled more than $200,000 from banks, luxury hotels and restaurants around the world until she was exposed in a 2018 New York magazine article.
Now, Delvey’s case is being reimagined in the Shonda Rhimes-produced Inventing Anna, a 10-episode series dropping on Netflix on Feb. 11, starring Julia Garner.
Tasked with the challenge of bringing the faux heiress to life, the Ozark star shared what lengths she went through in telling Delvey’s story — which included visiting her in prison.
“She’s actually really sweet. She was extremely charming. She’s very gentle. But then her voice gets less soft-spoken when she wants something,” Garner told Town and Country about visiting the con artist at Albion Correctional Facility just outside Buffalo, New York.
“I wanted to see if she had any remorse about what happened, or time to reflect,” she said, adding that at one point during their visit, Delvey begged to hear the accent Garner had prepared to play her. “She’s like, ‘Please, let me hear it.'”
Anna Sorokin, better known as Anna Delvey, seen in the courtroom during her trial in New York in 2019. The self-titled German heiress was charged for fraud after scamming hundreds of thousands of dollars from businesses. (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP)
Delvey, who was born in Russia and grew up in Germany, learned British English before she began mimicking American English by watching television. That left a unique accent many people couldn’t quite place.
Of course, as an actress, it made it more difficult for Garner to capture, especially since she was shooting Inventing Anna and Ozark at the same time. And going from one accent to another wasn’t simple.
“I really made sure that the script supervisor had an eye on my accent during that period of time. Playing those two parts at the same time was probably the hardest thing I’ve had to do in my life. Those are not easy women,” she explained. “They don’t think and then act, they act and then think. [Ozark’s] Ruth would see through Anna right away.”
“My tongue on Ozark is completely different from my tongue for Delvey,” she explained. “Anna’s tongue is kind of flat. It almost feels heavy and fat. I completely had to change how I moved my tongue in three weeks.”
Tapping into Delvey, Garner said, required more than just diction.
“When I really know the character, I start feeling all their feelings,” she explained. “My anxiety was through the roof, and I realized it was because Anna had really bad anxiety. My husband was like, ‘This has gotten out of control.'”
During their meeting, Delvey told Garner that she didn’t “really have that much time to think” about her crimes, saying that she was keeping busy doing “stupid culinary arts.”
“I kind of love that about her, in a sick way,” Garner said. “She’s in a full jumpsuit saying, ‘I’m obviously not going to make myself food when I get out of jail.'”
“People don’t necessarily have to agree with what she did, but I want to help people try to understand why she did it,” Garner said. “She’s a big dreamer, and I would consider myself a dreamer. In the business that we’re in, you have to be.”
Garner has been one of Hollywood’s most sought-after actresses since her breakout role on Ozark. Earlier this month, it was announced that she signed on to the psychological thriller Apartment 7A.
Moving forward, Garner wants “to continue playing strong, complex women,” adding, “I love switching people’s minds when they’re going back and forth about a character.”
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