Several years ago, a Swedish comic contacted me and said, “My friend Martin is an actor and he’s looking for a voice coach who can help him speak English with an American dialect. Interested?” Absolutely, I replied. Sounded like fun and easy money to boot.

I met Martin who, like many Swedes, was distractingly pretty. He said he was about to audition for a role in a TV show, an American production being filmed in Canada, having something to do with cyberespionage. The role he wanted was a corporate guy named Tyrell.

“Oh,” I said, “that’s a cool Easter Egg.” Martin looked blankly at me. “Tyrell?” Still nothing. “Blade Runner?”

“I’ve never seen Blade Runner,” he responded. I responded with the same energy men expend when their girlfriends say they’ve never seen The Godfather. Then, taking a breath, I explained that in Blade Runner, androids are manufactured by the Tyrell Corporation. “Ah, cool. I should try to see that sometime.” I flexed and relaxed my fist a few times.

We met a few times in person and had other sessions over the phone. He’d read aloud from articles and I’d jump in now and then to correct his pronunciation, which wasn’t often. As far as I was concerned, he was already next to perfect. He didn’t have what I would call a British accent, which many Swedes have when they speak English. Swedes tend to learn “proper” English when speaking, but American vocabulary. No one here would ever “ring their solicitor” or put a u in a word that doesn’t need it, like humor. Stupid Brits.

Soon it was time for him to fly to the US for the audition. He thanked me and paid me, I thanked him and wished him luck. As I’d hoped, it was fun and easy money. I didn’t hear more from him and it wasn’t long before I’d forgotten about him.

A few years later, my fellow American comic in Sweden – fellow New Jerseyan as well – David T. Weaver and I were talking and he asked me if I’d seen Mr. Robot yet. I said no, he reacted as I’d had when Martin said he hadn’t seen Blade Runner. I’d heard of the show, heard it was supposed to be good, but hadn’t made an effort to see it. Now that I was thinking of it, though, it sounded a lot like the show Martin was auditioning for.

I looked into it and was pleasantly surprised to see that, not only had Martin scored the role, Tyrell is the main antagonist for the first few seasons. I still had his phone number, so I texted, “I see you got the role, congrats! I’d like to think I deserve some credit for that.” “Haha, definitely,” he replied. “Have you seen Blade Runner yet?” “No, been too busy.”

“You know, if I got a role on a hit TV show that referenced a classic film, I would’ve made the time to see it.” “Well, when you put it like that…” As always, being passive aggressive is the way to go with Swedes. I decided to let our chat end on that note and haven’t heard from him since.

The punchline to all this is that, when the pandemic hit and I had nothing but my couch and time on my hands, I watched a few series that I’d heard were the best I’d never seen. Among others, I watched Mad Men, The Wire, and Mr. Robot. Tyrell was Swedish. The producers liked Martin so much, they changed the character’s fucking backstory to justify Martin’s accent. In other words, I didn’t help Martin in the slightest.

So, Martin, if you read this- give me a shout and I’ll give you a refund. [Editor’s Note: I think my money’s safe.]