Bad Attempts at Accents

by rowenna2000 | created - 29 Sep 2012 | updated - 12 May 2013 | Public

I have come across many films whose producers/casting/whatever feel the need to cast someone despite the character having a totally different accent. The diligent actor goes off to language schooling lessons and problem solved! Err, no. Very rarely can someone convincingly pull off a foreign accent. My list shows the ones I have come across, albeit mostly attempts at British accents as I am English and they're the ones I know best. Any others are for believability rather than accuracy - I can't comment properly on what I don't know!

EDIT: Added Famke Janssen.

1. Bianca Lawson

Actress | Save the Last Dance

Bianca Lawson was born on March 20, 1979 in Los Angeles, California, USA as Bianca Jasmine Lawson. She is an actress and producer, known for Save the Last Dance (2001), The Feast of All Saints (2001) and Rogue (2013).

American attempting Jamaican... I THINK she was trying to be Jamaican in Buffy, but I could be wrong... Either way, it was bizarre and made it impossible to take her seriously

2. Noomi Rapace

Actress | Män som hatar kvinnor

Swedish actress Noomi Rapace was born in Hudiksvall, Gävleborgs län, Sweden to Swedish actress Nina Norén and Spanish Flamenco singer Rogelio Durán. Her parents did not stay together, and when she was five she moved to Iceland with her mother and stepfather, where she lived for three years. When ...

Swede attempting English as Elizabeth Shaw. I didn't even realize she was supposed to be English until I read the film trivia!

3. Charlize Theron

Producer | Monster

Charlize Theron was born in Benoni, a city in the greater Johannesburg area, in South Africa, the only child of Gerda Theron (née Maritz) and Charles Theron. She was raised on a farm outside the city. Theron is of Afrikaner (Dutch, with some French Huguenot and German) descent, and Afrikaner ...

South African attempting English, in Arrested Development. Almost creepy.

4. Saffron Burrows

Actress | You

Saffron Burrows, known for her work in critically acclaimed films, stars in the Golden Globe winning Amazon series Mozart in the Jungle. Upcoming, Burrows will star in award-winning playwright Tom Dugan's one-woman drama Jackie Unveiled at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. The ...

Englishwoman attempting a cockney accent both as Ike Latulippe in 'Bones' and Martine Love in 'The Bank Job'.

Every time she spoke I winced. This is as bad as Don Cheadle's, I mean... Wow. Not to mention for a Londoner as well. And why, why would they have her do it when it's so obviously terrible. At first, I thought she was trying to be South African... Ouch. And to do it TWICE!

5. Shirley MacLaine

Actress | Terms of Endearment

Shirley MacLaine was born Shirley MacLean Beaty in Richmond, Virginia. Her mother, Kathlyn Corinne (MacLean), was a drama teacher from Nova Scotia, Canada, and her father, Ira Owens Beaty, a professor of psychology and real estate agent, was from Virginia. Her brother, Warren Beatty, was born on ...

American attempting Chinese. Can't remember the name of the film, but she was all 'Chinese'd up - atrocious in itself - and was just screechy fake Chinese... *shudder*

6. Keanu Reeves

Actor | The Matrix

Keanu Charles Reeves, whose first name means "cool breeze over the mountains" in Hawaiian, was born September 2, 1964 in Beirut, Lebanon. He is the son of Patricia Taylor, a showgirl and costume designer, and Samuel Nowlin Reeves, a geologist. Keanu's father was born in Hawaii, of British, ...

American attempting... anything. Okay, I'll give an example - Englishman Jonathan Harker in Dracula. Nooo.

7. Heather Graham

Actress | Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me

Heather Joan Graham was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Joan (Bransfield), a schoolteacher and children's book author, and James Graham, an FBI agent. She and her sister, actress Aimee Graham, were raised by their strictly Catholic parents. They relocated often, as a result of their father's ...

American attempting London cockney in From Hell. A very tricky accent as it's so easy to overdo and thereby create a caricature of your character.

8. Russell Crowe

Actor | Les Misérables

Russell Ira Crowe was born in Wellington, New Zealand, to Jocelyn Yvonne (Wemyss) and John Alexander Crowe, both of whom catered movie sets. His maternal grandfather, Stanley Wemyss, was a cinematographer. Crowe's recent ancestry includes Welsh (where his paternal grandfather was born, in Wrexham),...

Australian attempting English, in Robin Hood. I really enjoyed this film and I re-watch it, but his accent is all over the place. Sometimes midlander English, some Irish (by accident I'm sure), his own Australian... Distracting.

9. Don Cheadle

Actor | Crash

Donald Frank Cheadle was born in Kansas City, Missouri on November 29, 1964. His childhood found him moving from city to city with his family: mother Bettye (North), a teacher, father Donald Frank Cheadle, Sr., a clinical psychologist, sister Dawn, and brother Colin. After graduating high school in...

American attempting cockney London (Ocean's Thirteen). Even he admitted it was terrible.

10. Shannon Elizabeth

Actress | American Pie 2

Shannon Elizabeth was born in Houston, Texas, the daughter of a Syrian/Lebanese father and a mother who is English, Irish and German. When Shannon was in 3rd grade, her family moved to Waco, Texas, where most of her relatives already lived. As a girl, Shannon took dance lessons, including tap, ...

American attempting Czech/Slovakian in American Pie. Not entirely sure she even listened to real accents of the area.

11. Nathaniel Buzolic

Actor | Hacksaw Ridge

Nathaniel Buzolic is an actor, known for Hacksaw Ridge (2016), The Originals (2013) and The Vampire Diaries (2009).

Australian attempting English, as Kol in The Vampire Diaries. Though his character was born in America before it was settled by the Europeans.

12. Natalie Portman

Actress | Black Swan

Natalie Portman is the first person born in the 1980s to have won the Academy Award for Best Actress (for Black Swan (2010)).

Natalie was born Natalie Hershlag on June 9, 1981, in Jerusalem, Israel. She is the only child of Avner Hershlag, a Israeli-born doctor, and Shelley Stevens, an American-born...

Israeli-born, American-raised, attempting English in Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace.

13. Jeremy Irons

Actor | Dead Ringers

British actor Jeremy Irons was born in Cowes, Isle of Wight, a small island off the south coast of England. He is the son of Barbara Anne Brereton (Sharpe) and Paul Dugan Irons, an accountant. Young Jeremy didn't prove very fond of figures. He visited mainland England only once a year. He wound up ...

Englishman attempting a German accent, and a German guy putting on an American accent! Both fail. (Die Hard with a Vengeance)

14. Famke Janssen

Actress | X-Men: The Last Stand

Famke Janssen was born November 5, 1965, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and has two other siblings. Moving to America in the 1980s, she modeled for Chanel in New York. Later, taking a break from modeling, she attended Columbia University, majoring in literature.

This model-turned-actress broke into ...

Dutchwoman attempting... English? As Olivia Godfrey in Hemlock Grove.


15. Ernie Hudson

Actor | Ghostbusters

As a child growing up in Benton Harbor, Michigan, Ernie Hudson wrote short stories, poems and songs, always thinking that his words might one day come to life on stage. After a short stint in the Marine Corps, he moved to Detroit where he became the resident playwright at Concept East, the oldest ...

American attempting English, as Munro in 'Congo'. He starts off obviously American, then after the airport goes for some colonial 'upper class' accent for the rest of the film. Bizarre.

16. Tim Curry

Actor | Congo

Timothy James Curry was born on April 19, 1946 in Grappenhall, Cheshire, England. His mother, Maura Patricia (Langmead), was a school secretary, and his father, James Curry, was a Methodist Royal Navy chaplain. Curry studied Drama and English at Birmingham University, from which he graduated with ...

Englishman attempting a Romanian accent as Herkemer Homolka, in 'Congo'. May have been overdoing it on purpose, for comedic effect.

17. Kevin Costner

Actor | The Postman

Kevin Michael Costner was born on January 18, 1955 in Lynwood, California, the third child of Bill Costner, a ditch digger and ultimately an electric line servicer for Southern California Edison, and Sharon Costner (née Tedrick), a welfare worker. His older brother, Dan, was born in 1950. A middle ...

American attempting English. I only recently found out that he was actually trying to sound English during Prince of Thieves, seriously I didn't even notice he wasn't being American. Fail.

18. Caspar Zafer

Actor | The Originals

Caspar Zafer is an actor and director, known for The Originals (2013), The Vampire Diaries (2009) and The Maidens' Conspiracy (2006).

Attempting the English accent for a (formerly) Viking vampire Finn on The Vampire Diaries.

A mixed bag this one. Named as British, raised in the Middle East by a Ukrainian father, I'm not sure what his actual accent is but his English sounds bizarre.

19. Joseph Morgan

Actor | The Originals

Joseph Morgan was born in London and spent his childhood with his family in Swansea, Wales. Morgan moved back to London in his late teens to study acting at the Central School of Speech and Drama. While there he continued to write and experiment with filmmaking, participating in student films and ...

Welshman attempting English (originally 'Viking'), as Klaus in The Vampire Diaries. This is an odd one as I've heard him speak with his native Welsh accent and also with a regular English accent, but in the show it sounds really fake. He's attempting the posh English that Americans expect to hear (when a character isn't a gangster) but it sounds ridiculous. Not to mention pairing it with all those 'mates', which posh English types just don't say.

20. Sean Blakemore

Actor | The Quad

Sean Blakemore is an actor, known for The Quad (2017), Bosch (2014) and American Crime (2015). He has been married to Nadyia Jones since June 19, 2010. They have one child.

American attempting African... Or was it Jamaican? ... For one line, there was even a definite Indian influence... as Grayson Barasa in 'Bones'. All over the place.

21. Joel Kinnaman

Actor | RoboCop

Charles Joel Nordström, known professionally as Joel Kinnaman, is a Swedish actor. He is best known for playing the lead role in the Swedish film Easy Money a role that earned him a Guldbagge Award in the "Best Actor" category - and for his role as Frank Wagner in the Johan Falk film series. He ...

Swede/American attempting... This is an odd one. The guy is half-American, half-Swedish, but when I watched The Darkest Hour (don't bother), my Swedish boyfriend did not believe the actor's Swedish accent!

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