Saturday, January 4, 2014

Top Five Mysteriously Disappearing British Accents

It’s hard to be British when you’re a Yank—though lots of actors do give it a try. Maybe it’s because movies and TV shows use British accents to convey not only “set in the UK” but also, “set in ye olden times” and also “set in space.”

Just like everyone on Game of Thrones and in The Lord of the Rings has a British sort of accent even though they’re both fantasies set in a whole other world. 

Here are my top five: 

5. Keanu Reeves in almost everything. His pseudo-British stand-in-for-French in Dangerous Liaisons came and went. His accent in Dracula was hanging on by a thread. Even his surfer-dude speak snuck in to his FBI agent lines in Point Break. But, in all honesty, at least that one sounded natural.

4. It’s been universally reviled as one of the worst attempts, but Don Cheadle’s “British” accent in Ocean’s Eleven also has the distinction of coming and going even within the space of one line of dialogue. In common with most truly craptastic fake British accents, it mostly only happens at the end of each sentence.

3. Madonna in real life. Yes, it’s tempting to mimic the accent when you’re around it. Resist.

2. Early in the film Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves,  Kevin Costner’s Robin introduces himself as “Robin of Locksley” with an attempt at an uppercrust British lilt. About an hour into the film, all pretext of Britishness is out. An (actual) British person says—“They took our land!”
Robin Hood proceeds to reply in a 100% American drawl: “Then by God we take it back.”

1. In Star Wars Episode IV, Carrie Fisher’s mysterious British accent appears only when Princess Leia is speaking to Grand Moff Tarkin (who was played by the actually British Peter Cushing) 
She starts off strong with a very Brit-sounding, "Governor Tarkin, I should have expected to find you holding Vader's leash. I recognized your foul stench when I was brought on board." But by the time Han Solo shows up, Leia is barking at him in an unmistakably American way. 
At least she didn't say "guv'nor."


  1. YES!!! NUMBER 2!!! HAHAHAHA!!!
    Mary Elizabeth: "And, Robin--take a bah-th." See? Super British.
    Kevin: Take a Baath?" SUPER AMERICAN.
    Makes me laugh every time! XD

    1. You know Costner was the most important guy on that set, otherwise surely SOMEONE would have told him, dude, your accent's horrific!

  2. I've never understood why the studios keep casting Americans for British roles. There's plenty of ubertalented Brits they could use instead. It would also help if the films allowed the actors to use British slang.

    1. Yes! I'd say Joss Whedon was the master there--he got away with all the bad words (and gestures) for seven seasons on Buffy. Which reminds me, I'd say James Marsters's Spike accent was one of the most consistent fakes. Also reminding me of one of the worst I forgot--David Boreanaz's "Irish" in the flashbacks--it was wobbly to start, he had it talking to Spike but not Darla, and then at one point in the series they just gave up all together!

    2. There's not much that James Marsters can't do! As much as I loved him as Spike, he was even better when he guest starred in the 2nd season of Torchwood.