Hilariously Bad Accents

Charles Graham Dixon

Bad accents in films are unforgettable, and not in a good way. Even if the film in question is good, the memory of a bad, unauthentic and frankly embarrassing accent coming from a supposedly professional actor lingers on in the memory. Case in point? All of the below...

Dracula (Francis Ford-Coppola, 1992) 

There’s a compelling argument that the look of pained awkwardness Winona Ryder gives Keanu is not in any way related to the acting required for the scene itself, but reflects her total embarrassment at her co-star’s accent. Francis Ford Coppola was the man responsible for The Godfather and Apocalypse Now, films memorable for the towering performances of De Niro, Pacino and Brando – just what was he thinking casting Keanu?! 

Ocean’s Eleven (Steven Soderbergh, 2001) 

Did Don Cheadle hear Harry Redknapp saying ‘t’riffic’ in a press conference and find his inspiration? This ridiculous attempt at a cockney accent is so toe-curlingly bad that it’s almost good. It’s like a terribly confused smorgasbord of Danny Dyer, Dick Van Dyke and…Don Cheadle. 

Robin Hood (Ridley Scott, 2010) 

Secretly, Russell Crowe was absolutely devastated by his accent in Robin Hood but because he’s a tough gladiator-type, he couldn’t let anyone know how he really felt. He did his reputation no favours by storming out of a BBC interview when asked, very nicely, exactly what his accent in Ridley Scott’s overblown mess was all about. I’m pretty sure Robin Hood was from Nottingham not Dublin with a bit of Cardiff and a pinch of Australian thrown in. 

St. Trinian’s (Oliver Parker, 2007) 

Mischa Barton is basically English so there really is no excuse for her butchery of the accent here. Barton sounds like an American drunkenly mocking the British on the back of a night bus, and the result is a bizarre Liverpudlian/Mancunian/London/American hybrid. 

Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (McG, 2003)

Justin Theroux, a decent actor and a regular in David Lynch’s recent work, destroys any credibility he may have gained with this attempt at a Northern Irish accent. Clearly, Theroux’s accent training involved him watching adverts selling a certain marshmallow-laced cereal and leprechaun mascot while watching IRA press conferences. 

Highlander (Russell Mulcahy, 1986) 

Christopher Lambert is American/French – not an ideal candidate to play an immortal Scottish warrior. Lambert’s casting shows the utter determination of action filmmakers in the ‘80s, to cast exactly who they wanted to portray action heroes, no matter how ridiculous. Think of the very Austrian Arnold Schwarzenegger playing characters with names like John Matrix, Ben Richards and John Kimble – clearly ridiculous. In the case of Lambert as Highlander: if he can’t get the accent right why not throw in a clumsy Scottish stereotype? That’ll convince ‘em, you stupid haggis! 

Blood Diamond (Edward Zwick, 2006) 

The fact that Leo speaks in this patois is totally understandable given the context of the story and, according to experts, he’s actually done a decent job. However, what DiCaprio cannot have planned is just how unintentionally funny this accent is when he speaks in it. Hearing him say GOVVVVMENT is farcical and is merely a reminder that we’re watching the bloke from Titanic talk like he’s a crooked African diamond dealer who’s also a ragga MC from Kingston, Jamaica. 

The Crying Game (Neil Jordan, 1992) 

Now, Forest Whittaker is someone that can pull off an accent (think of his Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland). Ol’ Ghost Dog’s English accent, however, is not quite so good. Like many a thespian that believe they can nail the sound of the English only to fail miserably, Whittaker’s attempt sounds like an American doing an impression. Badly. The result is a very unnatural mix of forced cockney, dropped t’s and an unintentional lapse into South African. 

Elizabethtown (Cameron Crowe, 2005) 

Surely scenes in Elizabethtown required an usually high number of takes as Kirsten Dunst must have been laughing each time Orlando Bloom opened his mouth. Another example here of Hollywood’s preoccupation with star power over sense and credibility as Bloom, an aesthetically pleasing but dense actor from Canterbury, Kent, is made to look silly with his attempt at sounding American. Like all bad accents, Bloom’s sounds unnatural and forced and is almost unwatchable once you become aware of it. 

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (John Madden, 2001) 

Come on, Nic, at least try and sound Italian. When it comes to dodgy accents, Nicolas Cage has form – check out Con Air and National Treasure if in doubt. Corelli was intended to be a glorious adaptation of a much-loved book, a prestige picture if you will, but this accent is lazy and ill-conceived. It sounds like Cage is sipping a decaf in L.A. while his agent asks him to do an impression of an occupying Italian captain in World War II. 

Follow Charles on Twitter: @CharlesGD 

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