Which actors really mastered the southern accent in film or on television?
When you heard him/her speak you thought that the person really sounded like a southerner and not someone pretending to be a southerner.
And they got the dialect and sound correct to the region of the south in which the production was set. For example a Charleston southern accent doesn't sound like an Atlanta southern accent.
Not Olympia Dukakis.
Jean Smart on Designing Women. She made it seem effortless and you truly would believe that she was a southern-born woman.
Stephen Moyer owns this thread.
Most any Redgrave can do a Southern accent. They can. They all just can.
Patty Duke can put on a great Southern accent but I forgot where she did it. I think it was for t.v.?! Don't recall offhand. She lost herself in it really well and that was nice because the only way you knew it was here was from the tonality of her voice.
Cherry Jones did a spot on upper crust New Orleans accent in "The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood." I know she is from Tennessee but the accent she did for her wee role in that flick is only found in New Orleans and no where else at all.
Kate Nelligan in "The Prince of Tides" did a great Southern accent. She actually did two Southern accents, one for her 'younger self' and one for her 'older self.' Have no way of knowing if it was truly spot on for the area or not. She is Canadian, btw. Where is she? Anyone know?
Can we stop saying "owns this thread" now? It's over and it grates.
"it grates" MARY!
The best Texas accent I've ever heard was from Kelly Macdonald in [italic]No Country for Old Men[/italic]. She nailed it.
I saw Blair Brown in some TV movie where she got a upper-class southern accent down perfectly. Usually actors choose some sort of generic, road show accent and camp it up. (I'm looking at you, Olympia Dukakis and Tom Hanks...)
Oh, Jessica Tandy did it right in DMDaisy. Likewise, Morgan Freeman.
I've never heard ANY actor demonstrate a Gulf coast accent, or even attempt it.
Rue McClanahan and Jean Smart both pulled off the Southern Accent that sounded authentic.
1st season of True Blood, Stephen Moyer sucked!
Rue sounded authentic because she born and raised in Oklahoma.
And British actors have an naturally easier time doing upper crust southern accents because the cadence of the accents are very similar.
R2 has it. Jean Smart was my first choice.
Many British actors do great Southern accents because the Southern accent is derived from the British accent so there is more similarity beyween the two accents than most people imagine.
Ewan McGregor did a great Southern accent in I Love You Philip Morris. His accent was much better than Jim Carrey's.
Vivien Leigh's Scarlett O'Hara accent was spot on.
R4, Patty Duke's "southern accent" in "Thanksgiving Memory" was so bad my Aunt Sal asked if she was retarded and had a speech impediment.
Sandra Bulllock as Nell Harper Lee.
I was surprised and pleased that the cast of The Help actually pulled off the correct accent.
R15 R4 here...
No. This is something from ages ago and when the title comes to me I will post it.
Rue McClanahan, especially since her accent was just a generalization. But she was so committed and consistent with it.
Vivien Leigh is a very close 2nd.
Some of my hillbilly rlatives have accents so astounding that no one could ever duplicate.
Jean Smart was great, but strangely enough, I thought Delta Burke's Southern accent wasn't terribly convincing even though Burke herself was born and raised in the Orlando area. Dixie Carter's upper crust Southern accent seemed more authentic. Annie Potts' nasal twang may have been genuine but it was horrible to listen to.
Jessica Tandy in DRIVING MISS DAISY.
Jude Law's accent was the best thing in "Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil". Way more convincing that Spacey's
Jude Law and Jessica Tandy are/were British, right? Just like I said earlier, the British accent is closest to the Southern accent.
Sissy Spacek and Sandra Bulloch are both from Virginia (and Bulloch's dad was from Alabama).
Spacek is from Texas, born and raised.
R27, Sissy Spacek was born and raised in Quitman, Texas. Sandra Bullock was born in the Virginia suburbs of DC, but was raised on the road as her mother was an opera singer who traveled a lot.
I don't know where Sandra Bulloch was born. She may well have grown up in Virginia.
r18, I believe you're referring to the TV movie, "My Sweet Charlie." Duke played a southern, unmarried pregnant girl, and Al Freeman Jr. played a black civil rights activist.
Cate Blanchett in "Hanna".
Jean Smart nailed it. Dixie Carter and Annie Potts are both from TN, so it wasn't really a stretch for either one of them, nor for Delta Burke. But Jean Smart is from Seattle.
Bette Davis used to go on in interviews about how the Southern accent came so naturally to her, and how good she was at it, but I always thought it was awful.
I was watching something recently (can't remember what it was) and thought the actor was doing about the worst imitation of a Southern accent I've ever heard.
Guy Pearce in 'Traitor' Sounded just like a North Carolina Baptist preacher's son
Why so many females? And like two men?
In THE HELP, Ahna O'Reilly who played Elizabeth, Viola Davis' employer, had a spot-on southern accent. And I read she's from CA. I grew up in the south and even went to Ole Miss. This girl sounded authentic.
Texas is the West, not the South. The rest of the world doesn't know the difference so anyone with a Texas accent can probably pass for Southern. Florida may be in the South but most Floridians don't have what you would call a Southern accent, unless they live in the panhandle under Alabama and Georgia. So I would not expect Delta Burke to have a good Southern accent being from Orlando.
Oklahoma is not in the South, r11. Some of you really need a geography lesson. This is why Texans and Oklahomans, etc. can pass for Southerners. Rue McClanahan's accent was not great. It was good for an affectation but lord, it sounded put on.
As several people noted above, British actors tend to do pretty good Southern accents because the Southern accent developed from the British one. Look at the ethnic makeup of US regions going back before statehood and you can see how various regional accents developed. There's an accent map floating around the internet that allows you hear regional accents but I can't find it.
As for my favorite Southern accents from non-Southerners: almost any British actor and Jean Smart.
Holly Hunter. You wouldn't know she's from Boston. And such an intense actor, she often uses it offscreen to keep in practice.
Our regional accents are so subtle .. I've never heard a non-southerner do one which was perfect.
The two male stars of Walking Dead get stronger southern accents every week.
pretty soon, they will be unintelligible.
How about Jon Voight (in Conrack and Midnight Cowboy)?
I think Rue's accent sounding over the top was somewhat intended. There were a couple of jokes during the course of the show where one of the girls cracks on her fake Southern accent.
I was really surprised to find out fairly recently that Jean Smart wasn't from the south. She really is a talented actress and incredibly underrated.
R46 I was raised in Tennessee and when I first saw Jean Smart on some t.v. interview back when that show as on the air I was actually shocked that she did not have a Southern accent. She nailed that accent just that well.
I asked a friend who is from Louisiana about True Blood. He said Moyer ("Bill") sounded southern but not like someone from LA.
He said Rene was the worst, with his phony Cajun accent. He thought Sookie's accent was just bizarre, not like any accent he'd heard anywhere.
However, he said the rest were generally OK, with Joe Manganiello coming off best.
Rod Steiger, In The Heat Of The Night
Sookie sounds like everyone in SC. It sounds authentic to me but I can understand why others don't think so. It's because it's too real.
I thought it was funny when Gale Harold (who was born and raised near Atlanta) could not manage a consistently convincing Southern accent when required to be a Memphis based lawyer in that cheerleading crap he was on for the CW.
I thought the two Marys, Mary Stuart Masterson and Mary Louise Parker, mastered the accent in "Fried Green Tomatoes."
I caught a scene of Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias a couple of months ago. What on earth was Roberts' problem? Wasn't she born and raised in Georgia? Why was her accent so awful?
Vivien Leigh's southern accent in GWTW and Steetcar was horrible. Why do people think she did well with that? I'm not saying the acting was bad but the accent was a bad imitation that sounded....well, like a bad imitation.
I don't think any actor could do a convincing back bayou Cajun accent well. It's almost like a foreign language and sometimes unintelligible to ears not familiar with it. I'm from the TX Gulf Coast area and first time driving through LA to NO I had to stop and gas up. The guy working in the station was yammering away and I just nodded my head in agreement not understanding a word he was saying.
I don't think most people realize how many different regional accents are down here and most actors try to do a generic drawl. I saw a list of them one day and its unbelievably long. You had rural, urban, upper class, lower class and everything in between. You've got Gullah, Low Country, High Country, Tidewater and on and on.
Kyra Sedgewick, thenk yew
My favorite weird Southern accent is the one of Virginia's Tangier Island, a dialectical isolate that some linguists claim is very similar to Elizabethan English.
There's also North Carolina's Outer Banks Brogue, which to my ear sounds a lot like the "Bawlmer" accent.
I liked Vivien Leigh's accent in Gone with the wind. Clark Gable's wasn't too bad either. And I liked Mammy's as well. It is interesting to me that Leigh had an English accent, but managed a southern accent.
Most of the put-on southern accents don't sound convincing, especially if you are a southerner.
And I think longest, slowest, drawl beats a nasal northern accent any day
It irritates me that so many actors default to a [italic]Gone with the Wind[/italic]–style drawl when trying to do a Southern accent. Take R53's point -- Julia Roberts is from Atlanta, for God's sake, and in not only [italic]Steel Magnolias[/italic] but [italic]Charlie Wilson's War[/italic] she sounded like she was aiming for India Wilkes.
Allison Janney's accent in "The Help" really impressed me. The accent she uses was widespread in the deep South when I was young; you almost never hear it anymore. I've certainly never heard another actor use it.
"Sissy Spacek in Coal Miner's Daughter"
Sissy Spacek is Southern.
Meryl Streep in "A Varmint Ate My Chitlin"
"I asked a friend who is from Louisiana about True Blood. He said Moyer ("Bill") sounded southern but not like someone from LA."
Does your friend know what people from mid 19th Century Louisiana who turned into vampires and then spent the next 180 years living all over the planet sound like?
I'm no expert but to me Ryan Kwanten's Jason sounds exactly like George Bush, Jr., and has quite a great deal in common with him personality wise as well; it's almost as if Kwanten decided to channel W.
Gable didn't do a Southern accent in GONE WITH THE WIND, r58.
Agree with the poster who complimented Allison Janney's accent in The Help. I grew up hearing that accent, and it was spot on.
Lauren Cohan (Maggie Green) of Walking Dead.
I know a lot of Southern boys who sound just like the blonde guy on "Heart of Dixie" ("Heart"? "Hart"?) Only none of them are as cute.
[quote]Kate Nelligan in "The Prince of Tides" did a great Southern accent. She actually did two Southern accents, one for her 'younger self' and one for her 'older self.' Have no way of knowing if it was truly spot on for the area or not
So you have no idea if it was correct, but you say she mastered it? The Nelligan trolls really make me laugh.
Agree with [R43]; Andrew Lincoln is fantastic but I AM a bit of a biased AL troll...
[R66] is right on as well; they even have the same close, inset, beady eyes!
[quote]To hear a REAL Southern accent from an actor, listen to Lucas Black (skip to about :30)
I knew he was from the same part of Alabama that I grew up in the moment I heard him speak.
Željko Ivanek as Ray Fiske on Damages. Sounds vaguely like James Carville, but on valium.
I was going to say the Oscar nomination proved Kate Nelligan had a perfect accent -- but they also gave one to Julia Roberts for that god awful "Rub-bahs!" performance (and they had an accent coach on the set! or maybe that was the problem. Dolly Parton especially resented it and I don't blame her, ha).
Larry Hagman's character JR Ewing
Giovanni Ribisi is a special kind of peckerwood in Contraband. He nails the accent.
r72, you're nuts. KS's accent is worst than Liz Taylor's in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
The best Southern accent was done by Vicki Lawrence. Her portrayal of a typical Southerner taught me how to speak Southern.
Christopher Guest in "Best in Show." He gets that western North Carolina thing absolutely right - it's a hard one to nail, I think.
Jeff Bridges and Will Ferrell do pretty good jobs and I think I remember thinking the same of Josh Brolin. I agree with the other comments about the girl from No Country for Old Men, Jessica Tandy, and Jean Smart. I was floored about NCFOM girl.
Woody Harrelson does a good accent as well. He was born in Tx but moved to Ohio when he was 12. I guess 12 was old enough to develop a Tx accent already?
I'm from Texas and most actors overdo the southern accent. I couldn't ever watch The Closer or True Blood because all of the accents sound fake.
"When we laht ouaw carosses...we gatha at thuh rivah, Beuford."
Clearly the people commenting on Kyra Sedgwick are not from the south.
Kyra Sedgwick and I am from the South. Clearly R85 is wrong.
Angela Lansbury, onstage in PRETTYBELLE and THE BEST MAN recently.
[quote]Patty Duke's "southern accent" in "Thanksgiving Memory" was so bad my Aunt Sal asked if she was retarded and had a speech impediment.
In all fairness, some Southern people do sound somewhat "afflicted" when they speak. Could be good acting.
Carol Burnett in the "Mama" skits on the Carol Burnett Show was very convincing. Her grandmother was supposedly from Yellville, Arkansas and Burnett spent summers there.
Phoebe Cates in "SHAG."
Ha ha, who am I kidding?
Janet McTeer was very convincing in TUMBLEWEEDS. She had me fooled. I was shocked to discover that she's English.
Kyra Sedgwick's accent is Southern what? It ain't from the South that I'm from (Mississippi).
R57, those Tangier Island folks have accent similar to the Newfoundland accent.
Kyra uses uppity Atlanta
Why do people keep saying Andy Griffith? That is his REAL accent. well, he does exaggerate a little in his comedy.
Lots of good ones mentioned but I'm another one who thought of jean smart as my first choice. She had the best one on d.w. and as mentioned above was the only one not orig from the south. Btw, Annie Potts was not raised in tennessee but in Franklin,, Kentucky. I used to live there.
Patricia Neal, with Andy Griffith in A FACE IN THE CROWD. She also mastered a West Virginia twang with Andrew Duggan in THE HOMECOMING, the TV-movie that was the pilot for The Waltons.
Thank you! Christopher Guest nailed that regional Carolina accent AND the writing of the character whose accent CG was portraying. That bloodhound owning fellow was one of about 30 clones of his I have met in my life.
Rue McClanahan was dreadful. She was the quintessence of an actress attempting to sound as she perceives a lady-like Southern lady would sound. I've lived in Georgia, Louisiana, Virginia and North Carolina, and each one of those states has a minimum of 5 regional accents.
Guest took the bother and effort to perfect the region of his character even though he was a secondary character. That's dedication and the sign of a perfectionist.
Hillary Clinton (and it's scary.)
My god You are right. HC doesn't have a lick of Illinois left in here does she? She truly sounds like lower-middle class Arkansas. Of course I mean when she is speaking informally or on the campaign trail.
Back to Texas again.... Kyle Chandler
None. Anyone who has been to the South in the last 30-40 years knows that very few people speak with any type of regional accent. Maybe 2% of people have a "southern" accent. I cringe when I hear an actor portraying a character from a southern state and they speak with that hillbilly drawl.
[quote]Rue McClanahan was dreadful. She was the quintessence of an actress attempting to sound as she perceives a lady-like Southern lady would sound. I've lived in Georgia, Louisiana, Virginia and North Carolina, and each one of those states has a minimum of 5 regional accents.
Rue talks about the accent she used for Blanche.