Hollywood star Robert Downey Jr has said his latest character’s accent is inspired by the radical, eccentric and pioneering doctor William Price, who was born in Ty’n y Coedcae Farm, near Waterloo, Caerphilly.
Downey Jr, best known for his roles as Tony Stark/Ironman in the Marvel Universe and Sherlock Holmes, sports the accent while playing Dr Dolittle in the movie Dolittle, which is currently in cinemas.
Speaking about his character on the Graham Norton Show, Downey Jr said: “I wanted to do something different, and I read about this guy named William Price who was this nutty, kind of neo-druidic doctor in the 19th Century.
“I based my character on him – he was a little bit controversial – he was into cremation which was considered really taboo back then.”
Born in 1800, Dr Price is best known for his work in making cremation legal.
He was also a chartist, heretic and Archdruid.
On his 83rd birthday he held a druidic open air marriage with his 22-year-old housekeeper Gwenllian Llewellyn of Cilfynydd.
They had a son named Iesu Grist,the Welsh for Jesus Christ, with Price claiming the boy was the new druidic Messiah. However, Iesu Grist died aged five months in January 1884.
Price’s actions to break a social taboo and cremate the body on a hill in his new hometown of Llantrisant caused widespread notoriety in the international press.
The surgeon was tried at a Cardiff courtroom after police arrested him for what they believed was an illegal corpse disposal. His son’s body was rescued from the pyre before it was engulfed by the flames.
A local doctor performed the post-mortem and concluded the child had died of natural causes – meaning Price would stand trial for performing cremation and not for killing the child.
Price decided to conduct his own defence and argued that cremation was neither legal or illegal. The judge in the case agreed, and Price was set free with his success used as a basis to pass the Cremation Act of 1902.
The film also stars Michael Sheen, Antonio Banderas, Emma Thompson, Jim Broadbent, Selena Gomez and John Cena, among others.