We don’t like negativity here at thejournalix.com but we do like a good laugh, and nothing makes us chuckle more than a superstar Hollywood actor delivering a terrible accent in a big budget movie. And by no means are we ridiculing the actors here, not at all, it is the studios that are to blame. It’s like those awful TV singing competitions when you find yourself questioning why the parents of this vulnerable girl with not a very good singing voice have let her audition – they were too busy dreaming of the megabucks if she were to win!
What we should stress is that it doesn’t neccessarily result in a bad film and in some cases the performances are deserving of praise, but it’s the accents… jeez… let’s take a walk down memory lane for some all-time classics:
- Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins (1964): His performance is so good it doesn’t matter, but it’s often cited because it truly does not reflect an Englishman, nor even a Brit. But honestly, he’s the very best at everything else asked of him in this perfect role so we forgive him.
- Don Cheadle in Ocean’s Eleven (2001): Going toe-to-toe with Van Dyke for sounding-like-an-American-doing-a-cockney-accent, you probably can cut him some slack as the few lines he has are mostly laden with Cockney rhyming slang, which was never going to end well.
- Josh Hartnett in Blow Dry (2001): Credit to Hartnett for this as a Yorkshire accent is particularly difficult to do but this one is a very messy affair. It never sounds convincing but as that is established early into the film for the lead character, you can quickly decide to buy into it and enjoy this easy-watch film.
- The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001 to 2003): It may be harsh this as Middle Earth is not a real place (SPOILER) and although I’m not comfortable with Elijah Wood’s Frodo speaking the Queen’s English, it’s Sean Astin’s Dorset accent for Samwise Gamgee (despite living in the same village as Frodo all his life) that never quite sounds right. It’s a decent effort but nevertheless I’m always reminded that I’m watching a Hollywood picture when he’s talking and it’s for that reason that it makes this list.
- Ray Winstone in The Departed (2006): Now it would be cruel not to include an Englishman doing a bad American accent as many of them exist, and cockney geezer Winstone is definitely guilty of the sin. The film is brilliant though, and Winstone’s acting is not all bad. By getting caught up in the story and the strength of the rest of the cast it’s easy to forgive and forget, but it’s still a crap accent.
- Charlie Hunnam in Green Street (2005): Here’s an actor who always seems to struggle to nail down his accent, even out of character I can’t be sure where he’s from. He’s English, from Newcastle apparently and you can hear that from when he was in Queer As Folk (1999), but following his role in Sons of Anarchy (2008-2014) there’s now an American twang in there. Maybe he does a Christian Bale and there’s a method to the madness. In this film he’s supposed to be a cockney from the East End of London and quite frankly it’s poor. There’s something about that cockney accent that messes people up! And Elijah Wood is in this too, maybe he’s just a bad influence?