A good actor should be able to play pretty much any role, right? But sometimes when that role involves speaking with an accent different to your own, even the best actors fall horribly flat. There are times when it doesn’t really matter (think Fassbender breaking into full raging Irish brogue towards of X-Men First Class) and then there are other times when it ends up taking over the entire performance, these are the times I am talking about below.
Film: One Day (2011)
Played by: Anne Hathaway
Attempted accent: Yorkshire
Native accent: Brooklyn
Oh dear… not only was Anne way, way too pretty to play the supposedly dowdy Emma but her accent seemed to change like the wind throughout the entire film making it the centre of all the reviews.
Film: Invictus (2009)
Character: Nelson Mandela
Played by: Morgan Freeman
Attempted accent: South African
Native accent: Memphis, Tennessee
I know our beloved Madiba has a very distinctive and unusual speaking voice so I would never have expected an exact replica but really most of the time it doesn’t even sound vaguely South African.
Film: Iron Man 2 (2010)
Character: Ivan Vanko/Whiplash
Played by: Mickey Rourke
Attempted accent: Russian
Native Accent: Schenectady, New York
Kind of reminds you of every 80’s “the Russians are coming to get us” cheesy action movie you loved when you were eight…
Film: Highlander (1986)
Characters: Connor MacLeod & Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez
Played by: Christopher Lambert & Sean Connery
Attempted accents: Scottish & Spanish/Egyptian (??)
Native accents: French & Scottish
I can’t imagine whose idea it was to get a Frenchman to play a Scot and a Scotsman (who has only ever been capable of one accent) to play a Spaniard/Egyptian but it all went horribly, horribly wrong. So wrong that it’s impossible to pick just one of these for the top 10.
Film: Django Unchained (2012)
Character: The LeQuint Dickey Mining Co. Employee
Played by: Quentin Tarantino
Attempted accent: Australian
Native accent: Knoxville, Tennessee
Although Tarantino has just popped in for his standard brief cameo, his attempt at an Australian accent is so jarring that it’s one of the most memorable moments of an otherwise impressive film. Put another shrimp on the barbie, mate!
Film: Mary Poppins (1964)
Played by: Dick Van Dyke
Attempted accent: Cockney
Native accent: West Plains, Missouri
This has got to be the original yardstick on which all terrible British accents are measured.
Film: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (2001)
Character: Captain Antonio Corelli
Played by: Nicolas Cage
Attempted accent: Italian
Native accent: Long Beach, California
Being an Italian-American you would think Cage might have met some Italian people in his lifetime. Instead he chose to base his accent on the Dolmio adverts.
Film: Robin Hood Men in Tights (1993)
Character: Little John
Played by: Eric Allan Kramer
Attempted accent: West Country? Definitely something British.
Native accent: Grand Rapids, Michigan
While Cary Elwes (mmm… Cary Elwes) might be the only Robin Hood who can speak in an English accent, the same cannot be said for most of the rest of the cast of this spoof, with Kramer doing the absolute worst job of the lot.
Film: Alexander (2004)Character: Olympias
Played by: Angelina Jolie
Accent: Fuck knows… Macedonian?
Native accent: Los Angeles
Poor Ang appears to have gone for the tactic of picking an imaginary random accent that sounds like none of her Alexander contemporaries, resulting in her just sounding batshit crazy.
Film: Anaconda (1997)
Character: Paul Serone
Played by: Jon Voight
Attempted accent: Paraguayan
Native accent: Yonkers, New York
Like father, like daughter. Voight probably could have gotten away with any kind of South American accent but he ends up sounding utterly ridiculous.