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Emily Mortimer’s Cultural Faux Pas

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Aug. 3 2008, Published 1:00 p.m. ET

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Despite her prim-and-proper demeanor, Emily Mortimer is no mild-mannered Brit.

“I have always managed to charm Ukrainian taxi drivers in New York by suddenly swearing in Russian in the back of the cab,” the 36-year-old actress, who is married to Alessandro Nivola, tells OK!’s Oliver Coleman.

The mother of one, who stars in Transsiberian, studied Russian in college and spent time in Russia.  

Still, her language skills didn’t go over as well in Lithuania.

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“I was so looking forward to it because I would be able to practice my little phrases, and curse in Russian and they'll all think I'm cool because it is my second language. And it was going down like a cup of cold sick! No one was really psyched or charmed about the fact I was talking Russian to them -- they remained sort of poker-faced.”

She continues, “I couldn't quite work out what was going on until about a week into it someone pointed out that Lithuania had been brutally oppressed and persecuted by the Soviet Union for about seventy years and that the least cool thing I could do in Lithuania is to speak Russian. And I was actually making myself unpopular by doing it. So I thought I was going to be the mediator and I ended up just making things a lot worse for everyone by going around talking Russian.”

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