The WORST fake English accents: Why don’t they just hire British actors to play British characters??

Posted on October 9, 2012 by yankeebean

I’m at the stage at my stay here in the UK that I don’t really hear the British accent anymore.  Unless it’s a strong local-y sounding one (Yorkshire, Bristol, Scouse, Geordie), it washes right over me.

But when they hire an American, an Irish person or an Australian to play a Brit – OH! – Mine ears, they do tremble.  Why don’t they just hire Brits??  Especially since they’re cheap labour

I’ve been doing some Googling to find some evidence, and I’ve come up with the following 3 heinous examples:

Anne Hathaway in One Day

Bless her heart, I love Anne Hathaway in almost everything she ever touches (yes, this includes the Princess Diaries 2).  But how can I keep track of what’s going on in a film with this strange Ameri-cockney-yorkshire accent beast staring me down?

Natalie Portman in V for Vendetta

I’m also a huge lover of Natalie Portman – she’s a freaking genius and most things she touches turn to golden box office successes.  But her ACCENT!  Ohmygee, her accent.  That’ll be ten Pledge of Allegiances and a whole cheese pizza as penance, Nat-Port.

Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins

No list of crappest-Brit-accents would be complete without Dickie-boo!

I love this movie.  MY GOD, I love this movie.   I live in eternal hope that one day I’ll find a handbag big enough to keep a floor lamp in.  But Dick Van Dyke really set the bar in terms of heinous accents.  It doesn’t ruin the over all movie for me, though – probably because it’s all so cartoony and his accent is, too.

Part of me gets it.  Directors have a specific actor in mind and they bring them in regardless of their stubborn American twang.  It’s distracting, though – there’s nowt to be done about it!

I know it isn’t a one-way train.  There are plenty of Brits doing heinous American accents out there (except for Hugh Laurie, of course.  He sounds more American than I do), but for some reason I don’t tend to find bad American accents as distracting.  Now that I mention it, I should give a shout out Gweneth Paltrow who throws a seriously excellent English accent in my opinion.

What about you guys?  Can you stand it?  Have I missed any obvious ‘worst English accent ever’ candidates?  Or what about bad American accents?  I can’t think of any off the top of my head…


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What Others Are Saying

  1. Barbara Ritthaler June 15, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    Charlize Theron in ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ is also cringeworthy.

  2. Kelly May 23, 2013 at 3:34 am

    This cracks me up! Have you seen the new Julia Roberts snow white movie? It’s terrible but besides that her accent is so bad it’s distracting, and I don’t even live in the UK! ha :)

  3. Taylor October 9, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    Hahaha I actually had that same thought recently!! It started with “why did they hire Lindsey lohan and not actual twins for the parents trap” which morphed into “why does her English accent sound so bad in the parent trap” and then I just thought of every movie where Americans play British people…….

    • yankeebean October 9, 2012 at 9:05 pm

      Lin-Lo is another great example! Didn’t think of that one…

      I did intentionally leave out Kevin Costner from Robinhood Prince of Theives ( because I refuse to believe that he was even TRYING to put on an accent.

      And because I love Kevin Costner…

  4. Peacefulyorkshire October 9, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    Oh yeah I am so with you, Ann Hathaway’s accent actually had me cringing in the cinema, though if I weren’t living in the UK I probably would’ve thought it was great! My British man thought it was hilarious on the otherhand.

    What is funny is the Dick Van Dyke has actually been cited as a model in academic studies, too. he’s been used as a strong example of someone trying to imitate an accent from a culture that one has no awareness of how and why certain things are said. It leaves out all the essential qualities of the sound and this causes much hilarity for the culture for whom it belongs :) Just read that somewhere this week in fact. hmmm.

    • yankeebean October 9, 2012 at 9:06 pm

      That’s really interesting! Do you have a link to where I can read it?

      Part of me loves Dickie’s accent – his terrible cockney is a part of my childhood.

      Wow… that really came out wrong.

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