I can always tell when someone isn''t American trying their hardest to do an authentic American accent.\
There are a few exceptions though: Hugh Laurie, Tracey Ullman, Nicole Kidman, and Toni Collette. That''s about it.\
When it''s the other way around, many American actors and actresses can do English accents effortlessly.\
Why is it so hard for non-Yanks to master it?
Nicole Kidman''s American accent always strikes me as phony.
You''re not even trying, OP. \
Portia de Generes does not sound Australian.
Emma Thompson''s Midwestern Yank accent on her famous turn on "Ellen" was flawless, *much* better than the one she did in "Dead Again" several years earlier.
Nicole Kidman does a horrible American accent and Toni Collette''s isn''t much better (and it pains me to say that because I love her). I think Hugh Laurie and Emma Thompson, as noted by others, are about the best. Anthony LaPaglia is right up there too.
I can always tell%0D\
except for the exceptions
The Australian actress who played Rachel on Six Feet Under does an impeccable American accent.
Nonsense. Did you see Damian Lewis in "Band of Brothers"?
Nicole k can''t do one and neither can Russell Crowe
Nicole Kidman WAS BORN in the USA, so she was American at birth.%0D\
Yes, she grew up mostly in Australia, but she''s American-born.
The two Welch actors on "Brothers and Sisters", I had no idea they weren''t American.
How is that relevant, r10? It''s not like the accent is transmitted to you at birth.\
[quote]When it''s the other way around, many American actors and actresses can do English accents effortlessly.\
It sounds that way to you, anyway. Perhaps to the English, these actors sound just as bad as a non-American actor doing an American accent.
most people suck
Natasha (RIP) and Joely Richardson spent enough time in the US growing up that they both learned pretty flawless American accents. Joely would occasionally give herself away on Nip/Tuck when she''d say "Chris-tee-an" (American''s say "Chris-chun"). \
Vanessa Redgrave can''t do American for shit. \
Anthony LaPaglia used be indistinguishable from a real New Yorker, but by the end of "Without A Trace" he wasn''t even trying anymore.
OP, you are so wrong. Non-Americans are very good at doing American accents. It''s the reverse that is the problem.
I think Hugh Laurie''s accent is very stilted. He''s luckily playing a character where the weird accent can work to his advantage. %0D\
Jamie Bamber who played Apollo on BSG was really good. I didn''t even know he was British until I started watching the DVD extras.
Hugh Laurie has said that his American accent is an impression of George Clooney. \
Rose Byrne does a good accent.
Simon Baker does a good American accent on THE MENTALIST.
[quote]It sounds that way to you, anyway. Perhaps to the English, these actors sound just as bad as a non-American actor doing an American accent.\
Americans have no ear for any accent other than their own. My Australian accent was constantly misidentified as "English" by every American who hazarded a guess, and the two are not even close.\
Faking a convincing accent is hard to do, probably more so when you''re trying to act and remember lines at the same time. Few actors of any nationality are up to the challenge. But that fact, of course, is irrelevant to OP''s trolling.
not entirely, r7. there were a handful of times where i could hear a bit of aussie sneaking through. i don''t have any examples since it''s been awhile, and i admit that they''re subtle. rachel griffiths does a good american accent otherwise.
Julian McMahon does a great American accent in Nip/Tuck although he sounds a lot like Owen Wilson.
I agree with R15. Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves made my ears bleed while watching Dracula. Gwynnie sounds very affected when she does her British accent. Just awful. I can think of so many more examples where the reverse is more true, OP.
Rachel Griffiths kicks ass at it. It took me a while when watching Six Feet Under to remember that she was Toni Collete''s friend in Muriel''s Wedding. The actress is Australian.\
And OP, I''m betting you''re American. I know some Brits, and ALL of them say we can''t pull off their dialects any better than they can pull of ours. By the way, there are several British dialects, just like there are several American ones. The mistake most actors make on both sides is mixing up the dialects. It is always a dead giveaway. Brits tend to go southern/Texan or shrill Eastern/New Yorker when they try to do us, and we try to do an uber-classy London or a cockney thing. It never works for either side unless they have a lot of practice at it.
Says you, guvn''r!
If you''re posting from the 1970''s or an episode of Life on Mars R24. No one had said guvnor since.
I''ve got an English accent, and I find that many American actors are crap at sounding like an authentic English person. Renee Zellweger was rather convincing though as Bridget Jones, and the Aussies are usually a lot more convincing - Heath Ledger, Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman - have all pulled off convincing English accents.
Actors do NOT want to be mistaken for Americans... America is OVER.
When Nicole Kidman does an American accent she sounds exactly like Meg Ryan to me, especially in that movie with Michael Keaton where he is dying of cancer. Is it called "My Life?"
Some of the Irish aren''t bad either.
You are so wrong, OP. Plenty of non-Americans do very good American accents. It''s the other way around actually. Americans rarely do convincing foreing accents.%0D\
Some have already been named but if it weren''t so late I could give examples. Idris Elba from the Wire who was on The Office for a few episodes. Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alan Rickman, Jude Law, Judy Davis, Damien Lewis, Hugh Laurie, Albert Finney, Daniel Day Lewis, Brian Cox, Gary Oldman, Christian Bale, Hugo Weaving, Jonny Lee Miller, Emily Blunt, Meryl Streep - oops never mind. But you get the idea. %0D\
Seriously, OP. Absolutely no foundation for your premise.
I thought little L Lohan did a very good job of switching from English to American in "The Parent Trap." She almost gave me a fright!
Kelly Macdonald nailed her accent in [italic]No Country for Old Men[/italic].
very impressed Texan
Well, to my American (Californian) ears, Nicole Kidman always sounds perfect, Rachel Griffiths is amazing, Russell Crowe excellent. Simon Baker is usually good but every now and then he drops it for a word. Matthew Rhys is pretty good, too, but not the equal of Rachel G. Owain Yeoman is excellent.\
Judy Davis is also flawless - Cristian Bale is sometimes, but he sounds terrible in "The Fighter."\
Ralph Fiennes - now, he can''t do an American accent (witness "Quiz Show" - although Paul Scoffield''s in the same movie was pretty good) -
[quote]Americans rarely do convincing foreing accents.\
To be fair, r30, almost NOBODY does a convincing foreing accent.
Aussie here. Nicole Kidman''s Australian accent is unconvincing, never mind her American one.\
It''s learned, of course. She sounded perfectly Australian before she was Mrs Cruise. \
How do Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush go, to the American ear? She''s done many different American accents, from Kate Hepburn''s to Blanche Dubois and the Jersey housewife in Pushing Tin. Was she good at any of them?\
What are the sounds that usually give bad American accents away? \
And how good are Americans themselves at maintaining the accent of a region not their own? (Please nobody mention Holly Hunter - I mean those who are trying.)\
(For the record, I think the only American who''s had a really good crack at Australian was Meryl in the dingo movie. That was a high degree of difficulty because Lindy Chamberlain had some New Zealand in there too, which she also captured. Robert Downey Jr did not sound Australian in Tropic Thunder, though he got some sounds right.)
Uh, no Crowe is very uneven. His recent film he was all over the place and his attempt at whatever that was supposed to be in American Gangster was mostly cringeworthy. I think he was pretty consistent back in LA Confidential though. But accents are not his strong suit.
Ewan McGregor''s piss-poor American accent in "I Love You Phillip Morris" almost completely wrecked the film for me.
Helena Bonham Carter''s is pretty good. In "Fight Club," the only time you can tell she''s British is when she says "Rupert." Forgets the hard "r" sound.\
Gillian Anderson floats between American and British accents pretty smoothly.
I think non-Americans can do American accents because they grew up watching a lot of American TV. We, on the other hand, do not get to see that much foreign TV so our attempt at foreign accents are not always that good.
I disagree completely. More non-Americans can do convincing American accents than the reverse. Likely because they grow up hearing our TV shows all their lives while we don''t get much from outside the country.
Angie Jolie-Tomb Raider= dreadful.\
Russell Crowe- Robin Hood= dreadful too.\
Dick Van Dyke- Mary Poppins= atrocious!\
Kevin Costner- Prince Of Thieves= you''re killing me!!!
Was Kevin Costner supposed to be serious?
Rooney had me fooled in "Breakfast".
Another vote for Rachel Griffiths & Judy Davis.%0D\
I''m surprised some people think Hugh Laurie''s accent is good, I think, like someone else said, that it sounds stilted.%0D\
The only American actor I''ve ever heard do a really good English accent is Anne Bancroft in The Pumpkin Eater. Take a listen at link.%0D\
Americans tend to overstate everything when they do a British Accent. I used to teach actors how to do a (middle class)British accent when I was at acting school in NY (we used to swap skills). I used to tell people, sound bored, even if you''re excited. %0D\
Did Jodie pull off the southern accent in Silence?
Peter Sellers was perfect as the American Pres in "Dr. Strangelove". No southern or eastern dialect, just flat unaffected middle-western without distinguishing characteristics except the absence of distinguishing characteristics -- probably patterned after Ike.
I don''t agree at all.
OP is totally right -- if you want proof, watch some of the BBC mysteries, particularly the Hercule Poirot ones. Maybe the greater English actors can do an American accent, but the lesser ones sound so ridiculous. In England we were taught that Americans slur their words while we articulate -- so that''s what Brits do to imitate an American accent. They slur. That''s pretty much it. And slurring isn''t enough to make someone sound American.
Ian, Cedric, and Nigel
Olivia D''Abo did a great job on The Wonder Years.
What is it you don''t agree with, R48?
[quote]Ralph Fiennes - now, he can''t do an American accent (witness "Quiz Show" - although Paul Scoffield''s in the same movie was pretty good) -\
oddly, I found his stilted English to be an interesting part of his character of this distant patrician professorial type. Maybe Ralph is better than we think
I don''t agree with you, R51
I was shocked to learn that the guy who played the Butler on ''The Nanny" was a Yank.
Ryan Kwanten and Simon Baker are OK at sounding American.
My English brother-in-law said that watching Lord of the Rings he couldn''t tell Elijah Woods wasn''t really English.
Many American actors can do English accents effortlessly? %0D\
You MUST be trolling, OP.
i have heard some good ones, but im not american, im Australian, so i dont really know. on the other hand, i have never EVER heard someone pull off the aussie accent, yes, the is some people who can pretend with the bogan accent, and others wo have come close, but i have yet to hear a fake genuine-sounding accent.
R5 is legally deaf.
same goes or non Irish. For shame on any of you if you've even attempted it.
Agree with R3, Portia is convincing, no trace of a non American accent even if you strain for it.
Arrested Development box series
OP is so clueless.
First of all is your assumption that Americans can do British accents so well. I personally find Meryl's British extremely affected. As much as the transformation was strong, I don't think she sounded British at all. And most American actors trying to do British accents are just as poor as you think non-Americans are with their your accents.
Even more stupefying is your reasoning based on the bad ones you've heard, when the ones who are doing extremely well you'd probably be shocked to discover that they're not American. They're better actors than you even can detect.
Peter Ustinov did a hilarious accent as an American nebbish when he appeared as the mystery guest on What's My Line?
I really suspect the OP is a web site provocateur.
I think Linus Roache, who played the ADA in the closing seasons of Law & Order, pulls off a great American accent.
American actors are not particularly good at mimicking British accents(well, English, I never hear them attempt any others). The vowels in particular seem to cause a lot of trouble.
I think part of this is down to the fact that people from the US don't seem to have much of an ear for distinctions between accents - I am from London and frequently meet Americans who claim not to hear the difference between my accent and that of my Scottish friend. The most recent example of the effect this has on a screen performance is Anne Hathaway in One Day: she was meant to be playing a Yorkshirewoman, and couldn't decide between Irish/Scottish/Mancunian/American or Londoner and the overall effect was grating.
The other thing I find American actors fail to get is the class implications of particular British accents - Gwynnie in Sliding Doors talking a like a lady of the manor from a period drama when she was playing a waitress, for example. I don't know who wrote the script, but there was some shocking misuse of slang (the word "shag" in particular).
The only person I can think of who did a really good job was Renee Zellwegger in Bridget Jones, she had a perfectly believable accent for the character/period and reminded me a lot of the way my aunts speak.
R19 I'm American and I can tell the difference between the two accents. Australians have a very "wah" nasally sound compared to English. But then I've met people from both places and have watched enough foreign tv and films to tell.
Especially for Paltrow, whose English accent is quite artificial, whereas Zellweger fit in quite respectably, better than Streep ever has.
I don't think Kevin Costner was trying very hard at all in POT.
Americans playing American roles in English films is grating to me. Take Laura Linney in Love Actually. She was American reading a script written by an English writer and she just sounded weird. The syntax and flow were all wrong. They should have hired an American to tweek it for her role.
[quote] I think Linus Roache, who played the ADA in the closing seasons of Law & Order, pulls off a great American accent.
I'm glad you brought him up because I had no idea that he was from England until watching another movie where he played an English priest. I think his American accent sounds more authentic than Hugh Laurie's.
Even Hugh Laurie has this weird way of talking, I guess to tone down his real accent - he sounds like he is talking through clenched teeth.
You can't judge unless you have the accident being imitated. There have been so many cringe-inducing British and Irish accents by American actors over the years that this does seem a trollish topic. Tom Cruise's Irish brogue gets a special lifetime achievement award in this category, matched only by Tom Finney's Hercule Poirot in modern times.
In both directions, actors find it easier to do strong quirky accents - Brooklyn or Alabama in the case of Brits, Lady Bracknell in the case of Yanks. It's much harder to do a neutral accent. Bridget Jones is the only truly perfect neutral British accent I can think of by an American. She must have had a spectacularly good dialect coach.
Brit here, I'm amazed as an American you think Hugh Laurie's accent sounds authentic, because to me it sounds wrong and is clearly a non American pretending to be an American. Also Kaye Winslet is awful.
From our angle Gwennie, rdj are pretty passable. Renee is awful.
Gonna have to politely disagree a bit with you, OP. You're about 90Z% right - and even when an actor does a good American accent, invariably one can hear the original accent. I've noticed this on tv shows where a non-American's character has an emotional (angry, passionate, whatever) scene; the accent usually comes out (Simon Baker on "The Mentalist", Anthony LaPaglia when "Without a Trace" was on, etc.) But some are really very good: I don't notice Poppy Montgomery's accent; the poster is right to include Hugh Laurie, and one that I NEVER would have guessed until I read it somewhere: John Mahoney ("Frasier's" father) - NEVER heard a TRACE of a British accent, including when I have seen him on stage in - '85? 86? (Of course I could never tell he was gay, either!)
Alona Tal does a pretty good American accent for someone who just learned it from TV and English isn't her first language.
For those saying Crowe is good, I think he's the worst with all accents but his own original one.
What do you guys think of Jason Isaacs American accent?
Bob Hope (Leslie Townes Hope) did a very good American accent.
Your sainted Meryl deserves (another) mention here. If she pulled off the Iron Lady well, Thatcher's history gave her a hand. MT modulated her provincial accent at Oxford; then later on advice lost the shrill and deepened, for authority. So Meryl was imitating a careful construction that was rarely if ever spontaneous.
We'll hear Day Lewis sort of return the favour when his Lincoln is aired. He channelled John Huston quite well in 'There Will Be Blood.'
Is Zellweger posting here? She had the worst accent.
R77 he was laughably bad in There Will Be Blood. He was so hammy and awful the entire audience I was with was rolling in aisles laughing every time he had a moment.
I won TWO Oscars for playing an American.
My accent is flawless.
Sorry R53, but I disagree.
Colin Farrell. His American accent in Scrubs, in Horrible Bosses, in The Recruit (he bested Pacino), his Brit accent in London Boulevard, russian accent in The Way Back.
Colin Farrell is the best actor of his generation. Done and done!
All you have to do is lower your voice two octaves and pretend you have a quart of cum in you mouth that will drizzle out if you enunciate any sound clearly.
I have the CD to the 1988 London production of Follies. The American accents are HORRIBLE.
Not only do they always use cartoonishly hard vowels, every member of the chorus pronounces each word in exactly the same forced way, as if every American sounds exactly the same.
Charlize Theron does a great job of sounding American. Particularly when you consider her original South African accent, which was heavily tinged with Afrikaans. She sounded like Arnie in his early years. She took speach therapy and that seemed to do the trick.
On the same note, Americans/Brits doing South African accents always sound weird - like comedy Nazis. Matt Damon in Invictus, for example. The worst was Val Kilmer, in The Saint. He had this Cape Town stoner accent in one of his 'disguises' that brought the house down in every theatre it played at in South Africa
American with the best British accent: Madonna
Non-American with the best American accent: the guy from Still Standing/The Full Monty
Charlie Hunnam on [italic]Sons of Anarchy[/italic] does well. I had no idea he wasn't American until I looked on IMDb.
There was a movie where Colin Firth did a US Southern accent. I only saw the preview, but it struck me as very comical.
Crowe's accent in [italic]American Gangster[/italic] was sloppy.
I'm really bad at identifying accents. I can usually tell if someone is from a place that belongs to the Commonwealth (except Canadians, who sound like people from the Northern US states to me), so I have to fall back on their body language to ID them -- Australians take up a lot of space with their bodies and are generally more cheerful than someone from England (and cockneys don't really exist anymore, but their cheer had a broad streak of bitterness in it), South Africans carry themselves as outraged (except when delighted by food.) I can recognize a Scots accent eventually, but not Welsh. The two Irelands only become clear to me on Sunday
I am about 80% successful, but I need some time, and all that said, people all over the UK who grew up in wealthier families all seem to have the same accent no matter where they are from.
Fro the British comedians who make fun of Americans, it seems all they do is hammer their "r"s and hope for the best.
Kevin Costner attempting to do a British accent in Prince of Tides was bad, but his attempting to do a Boston accent in 13 Days were horrendous.
In both cases, the accent came and went from scene to scene. It felt like the director was too scared of him to tell him to work more on the accent. Am really surprised they didn't make him come back for looping.
Half the time, an Aussie or Brit is playing an American, I have no idea they are Aussie or Brit until I later learn it. Ryan Kwanten is a perfect example.
Rachel Griffiths American accents are impeccable and very different depending on the women she is playing (Six Feet Under, Brothers and Sisters, currently Other Desert Cities on Broadway - three California characters, three different vocal patterns, each flawlessly authentic).
Anthony LaPaglia's American accents are flawless. Heath Ledger's were note perfect. Kate Winslet's are irreproachable. Hugh Dancy has played several American characters and never been less than completely convincing.
Almost every major Australian star from Naomi Watts to Hugh Jackman excels at American accents.
And I am barely scratching the surface.
Ewan McGregor in Beginners.
In fact I can't think of one example of a Brit or Aussie actor who has failed to impress with American accents. If they can't do it, they don't get the job.
Now Gwyneth Paltrow's English accents.... that's a completely different story. To my American ear, she is completely unpersuasive. A perfectly fine actress but she should stick to American roles. Perhaps now that she's been living in UK for some time she could handle it but early in her career - including her bullshit oscar for Shakespeare in Love - by the way Cate Blanchett is a supreme example of an Aussie actress who aces American accents - her English accents sucked.
OK, how about Americans doing other American accents, good and bad?
[quote] Kevin Costner attempting to do a British accent in Prince of Tides was bad
Agreed. I also hated Barbra Streisand's attempt at a British accent in Prince of Thieves.
[quote] OK, how about Americans doing other American accents, good and bad?
NO ONE can do a decent Boston accent. They either try to sound like the Kennedys, who don't sound like anyone else from the Boston area, or they over-exaggerate the dropping of the letter R. One of the worst examples was Jeff Bridges in Blown Away. Also see Julianne Moore in 30 Rock.
Mark Wahlberg speaks with a great American accent and he was born in Boston.
The only time Mark Wahlberg, who is from Boston, is somewhat believable is when he does a film that takes place in Massachusetts. See The Fighter, The Perfect Storm, The Departed.
I can always tell when they're not American if their accent is supposed to be someone NOT from NY/NJ, but they still go with that one; like they're all trying to do Deniro.
I love Kate Winslet, but I always find her American accent really flat and nasal. It was okay in Titanic, but really nasal in Revolutionary Road.
Rachel Weisz is another one who gets really nasal when she does an American accent. You can tell with every syllable that she's straining to sound different from her natural accent.
Does anyone remember Frasier? Daphne had a strong Manchester accent but her relatives were all over the map. Her brother sounded like he was from London and her mother? God knows.
Of course, most Americans who watched the show probably didn't even pick up on that.
Most American actors who try to do a Brooklyn accent end up sounding cartoonish. Take Cher in Moonstruck, for example. Terrible.
David Caruso's accent in NYPD Blue wasn't bad - if he was supposed to be from Forest Hills.
I never liked Gary Sinise's accent in CSI NY until I realized his character is actually from Chicago.
I love it when I'm watching British programmes and the script calls for the actor playing an American to say something that is obviously British usage. Any American would let the writers know that an American would never use a particular term or word. When a Brit playing an American says something like 'We're going to hospital' or 'Congress are in session', or uses words like knackered and snog, no matter how good their accent is, they have lost all credibility.
How many American actors have done a good Louisiana accent? Not Dennis Quaid in the "The Big Easy." Oh my God, Tom Hanks as "Forrest Gump" was painful. Clint Eastwood never even tried in "Tightrope." Not a single person who ever did "A Streetcar Named Desire" had a reasonable accent. Nobody in "Blaze." Kevin Costner in "JFK" was ridiculous, as were all the others, including "Angel Heart," "Interview with the Vampire," and many that included big name actors. Cajun accents are even worse.
Christian Bale's is good enough that his Scottish brogue sounds fake when he isn't doing "American".
I watched a documentary on the Australian accent awhile back, which said that it is one of the "laziest" accents in English. The way we speak doesn't require much strain or effort. Australians tend to be quite good at mimicking other accents, because we don't need to "unlearn" some of the harsher aspects of the way people speak in the UK or North America. This is why non-Australians find it so hard to pull off an effective Australian accent.
The Australian accent is also unusual in the sense that it is so uniform, despite developing across a range of colonies that were so far removed from each other. There are differences between the states, but they are fairly slight.
What you're saying is the writers and directors' fault. They are the ones who should make sure the proper language/dialect/pronunciation is used. Sure, some actors do the research and are better able to execute but it's the formers' responsibility to make sure the right actors are cast and that they do it right.
[quote]Charlize Theron does a great job of sounding American. Particularly when you consider her original South African accent, which was heavily tinged with Afrikaans.
She actually couldn't speak English until she started modelling in her teens (so she says; I don't know how many Afrikaner kids grow up monolingual in today's South Africa) and taught herself by watching TV. For that reason alone I think she's tremendous; you absolutely cannot tell she's not only not American but a non-native speaker of English in scripted roles.
Now, when she's speaking extemporaneously, then you can sort of tell. Her American accent is fine, but she stumbles over vocabulary and grammar.
Sandra Bullock is the same, in the other direction. She lived for a time in Germany as a kid and grew up with a German mother, so her German pronunciation is that of a native... but she makes vocabulary mistakes typical of an native speaker of English. For example, I saw a clip of her accepting an award in Germany. She tried to make a joke about having forgotten her "speech" under her chair, but she used the word for speech as in "ability to speak" not "prepared text." SO the joke fell flat.
I always loved that on Fraiser, that Jane Leeves is doing John Mahoney's native Manchester accent and he is doing a flawless American accent.
I will also agree that Rachel Griffiths's American accent is perfect. Toni Collette is also excellent.
Nicole Kidman, Naomi Watts, Kate Winslet, Hugh Laurie all have this very controlled way of speaking when they do an American accent - It isn't really the accent, but it sounds a little forced and hard and cold and not relaxed.
Joshua Bowman, who plays Daniel on "Revenge", does a flawless accent, appropriate for his character's age and situation.
Of course the all-time champion owner of this thread is Heath as Ennis Del Mar.
Says Jane Leeves about her accent:
"British actress Jane Leeves puts on an American accent whenever she is out and about in the U.S. because she struggles to be understood when she speaks in her natural voice.
The Frasier star has lived Stateside for nearly 30 years, and despite retaining her posh English accent, she insists on speaking in an American drawl to avoid confusion in the U.S.
She tells U.K. TV show Loose Women, "I've lived there (America) longer than I've lived here (England). I don't feel like this is home anymore and I still feel like a foreigner there. They (Americans) think I sound terribly English and people here think I sound American.
"I think it's the phrasing and various words. You go into a restaurant and you don't want people making an issue, so you say (puts on American accent), 'I'll have the tomato basil'.""
I remember Jeeves and Wooster but still found hearing Hugh Laurie not speaking American on the DVD extra's jarring.
Jim Carrey's American accent is horrible. So is Mike Meyers.
Don't get me started on Michael J. Fox, how he became a star in Back to the Future & Family Ties playing the boy next door, I'll never know.
And Eric McCormack! Playing such an important American character with that horrible accent!
[quote]still found hearing Hugh Laurie not speaking American on the DVD extra's jarring.
I know R115 is joking, but you can indeed usually tell. The only Canadian actor who sounds totally American when playing an American is Seth Rogen.
R117 they are not Canadian, all of them are trained actors from France, just like Celine Dion.
How about Famke Jannsen? English isn't her first language, but I don't think you can necessarily tell.
With Famke, you can't tell unless you know she's Dutch, then you sort of hear it. Same with Connie Nielsen.
What about Charlize Theron? She's South African but seems to have eradicated her accent.
Heidi Klum is often lampooned with a German accent, but when she's been spending a lot of time in the US, her English is actually pretty perfect. She can sound completely American when she tries.
When she's been working in Germany or the UK for a while, that's when her accent stops sounding quite so American.
Andrew Lincoln, Damien Lewis, Hugh Laurie, Ryan Kwanten, Christian Bale...destroy your theory.
R88, Charlie Hunnam never sounds English. I looked him up on IMDB because I thought he was from New York. As you can imagine, I was surprised.
He doesn't do it all the time, but sometimes he has a very distinct New York accent. Since he's playing a Californian, the New York accent sounds odd. I haven't heard it recently, so I think he may have gotten past that.
Another actor who is very good at sounding American is Ryan Kwanten. I never would have thought he's Australian.
Many BBC actors sound like they're parodying a Texas accent rather than speaking American.
Kristin Scott Thomas does a convincing American accent.
Another shout-out for Kate Winslet - especially in that movie where she got fucked on the washing machine by Patrick Wilson!
Pretty damn good accent.
[quote]When it's the other way around, many American actors and actresses can do English accents effortlessly.
And what establishes your expertise on British accents?
Australian Radha Mitchell does an impeccable American accent.
"Christian Bale's is good enough that his Scottish brogue sounds fake when he isn't doing "American"
Christian Bale was born in Wales.
Polly Montgomery tries too hard to have an American accent but her Australian accent shines through at times when she's speaking in character on the show called "Unforgettable."
Only Americans use the word "brogue" in relation to Irish and Scottish accents.
Aussie, Sam Worthington, does a pretty spot on American accent.
Completely agree with R101 on Kate Winslet and Rachel Weisz - both do DREADFUL American accents. I have never, ever met an American person from any part of the US who speaks remotely like either of these actresses when they play American. They have a flattened, nasal quality that's aiming for a kind of generic Midwestern blandness, a certain syncopation of the vowels and syntax that they don't have in their real British accents, but they just end up sounding like they have sinus trouble. Winslet's accent in Revolutionary Road and Little Children, and Weisz' accent in The Fountain (truly one of the fakest American accents I've ever heard) sounded so similar that I wondered if they had the same voice/dialect coach.
Ditto for Nicole Kidman's dry, nasal affectations in the pot-smoking scene in Eyes Wide Shut (shockingly false) and Helena Bonham Carter in bits of Fight Club. Natasha Richardson did a good generic-American accent in Patty Hearst but a bad Southern one in Nell. Agree with whoever said Olivia D'Abo sounded natural on The Wonder Years.
Olivia d'Abo attended high school in California, though.
"When Nicole Kidman does an American accent she sounds exactly like Meg Ryan to me, especially in that movie with Michael Keaton where he is dying of cancer. Is it called "My Life?""
Nicole Kidman was born in Honolulu and spent the first four years of her life - which include, obviously, the formative years for language acquisition - there.
OP is completely out to lunch. A great many non-American native English speakers do American accents quite well, and there are far fewer American actors who have proven themselves adept at non-American accents.
Whether this is a result of better dialect training, the need to master American roles, or the omnipresence of American culture abroad I really don't know.
Renee Zelwegger is a very good example of an American actor who is convincingly Brit.
"Only Americans use the word "brogue" in relation to Irish and Scottish accents."
That's nice. So fuckin' what?
"Most American actors who try to do a Brooklyn accent end up sounding cartoonish. Take Cher in Moonstruck, for example. Terrible."
I didn't think she sounded cartoonish, but it made no sense that a woman living with her successful parents in a brownstone off the Promenade in the 1980s would have a thicker deep borough accent than her parents did.
"Snap out of it!"
R94 Ewan in any language is laughable. Even Irish
Naomi Watts and Martin Henderson sure convinced me in "The Ring" that they were American. Never heard of them before that movie and when I found out they weren't American, I was surprised.
Stephen Graham also comes to mind. He plays Al Capone in Boardwalk Empire. He's excellent.
REALLY bad: Matt Lucas and David Walliams in the American version of "Little Britain." I doubt it was part of the joke to have it be so bad because it was an unfunny joke. The accents were atrocious.
[quote]but it made no sense that a woman living with her successful parents in a brownstone off the Promenade in the 1980s would have a thicker deep borough accent than her parents did.
It's like the spread of ebonics sounds and words among a certain set of people. It comes from hanging around lowlifes and imitating them.
Nicole Kidman's American accent in Rabbit Hole and Winslet's in Revolutionary Road and Mildred Pierce sounded exactly the same to me. Both were very labored and phony-sounding. Winslet also only uses a narrow range of her voice when she does an American accent. It's very low and steady, even when she's yelling. There's no high pitch variations.
US-born Evan Rachel Wood (who plays Veda) also sounds labored in "Mildred Pierce," though. It's the stilted dialogue as much as the accents.
Some brits do southern pretty well.
Obama does a great American accent.
The English say the same thing about Americans trying to do an English accent.
I first saw Rebecca Hall in Vicky, Christina, Barcelona. I then saw her in Frost versus Nixon, and thought she did was doing a great British accent. Turned out she's British.
Veda was supposed to be ridiculously affected, R145, hence the stilted language and accent throughout her life. I loved when the young Veda said "Very well, Mother. It shall be as you wish." LMAO. Also loved the one time Mildred called her on it and yelled "Who TALKS like that?!??!!"
American actors struggle with foreign accents. Robert Redford didn't even attempt an English accent in "Out of Africa". Which was trifling IMO.
Definitely agree with Kidman, she's shocking at times and slips up a lot. Her British accent is mediocre as well.
"On the same note, Americans/Brits doing South African accents always sound weird - like comedy Nazis. Matt Damon in Invictus, for example."
Matt Damon's dialogue was reviewed by South African test audiences, and they apparently thought he did a good job except with one word, which sounded to them like "arse". He either redid the word or a native South African dubbed it for him, I forget which.
Most English and Australian actors seem to have no problem with American accents.
I think Americans often have more trouble with other American accents than they do with British accents. Some hollywood southern accents are just terrible. If you want to know what a southern accent sounds like, tune in to an Alabama TV station after a tornado or other disaster and listen to the interviews.
Brits do southern accents very well- Vivian Lee, while southerners do British accents very well-Daniel Davis (The Nanny)
Someone get R157 her smelling salts and a fainting couch.
This "oh dear" was a biggie.
Idris Alba in "The Wire" was great.
OP = An American "actor" , currently waiting tables at Olive Garden
[quote]Most English and Australian actors seem to have no problem with American accents.[quote]
Apart from Rachel Weisz, Kate Winslet, Nicole Kidman and Cate Blanchett.
Aussie Jesse Spencer can't do an American accent for shit. He can do posh London English, so they were originally going to make his character on House be British. Unfortunately, the only British accent he can do is exactly the same as Hugh Laurie's actual accent and it kept fucking Laurie up in scenes, so they kept him Australian.
On the other hand, Ryan Kwanten is also Australian, and easily does the most authentic Gulf-Coast southern drawl on "True Blood", even better than Rutina Wesley and Sam Trammell, who are both actually Southern.
R147 I agree. I want to see some voter registration cards, census rolls. Southsiders sound like Daleys
OP: As a native Londoner I can assure you that Americans CANNOT do British accents flawlessly, they ham it up every time. Same goes for Americans attempting Irish accents, it's painful on the ears.
Renee Zellweger in BRIDGET JONES might have been better than many other American actors' attempts at an English accent, but she got the character's social class all wrong. Zellweger made Bridget sound much too posh and Home Counties instead of properly making her tend towards Estuary speech.
At any rate she was still better than Reese Witherspoon playing Cecily Cardew in THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST.
Rose Byrne on Damages does an excellent American accent.
Also Portia De Rossi who lost her native aussie accent.
[quote]Ryan Kwanten is also Australian
No way! The Aussie hasn't ever come out in his voice.
The English accent I enjoy hearing is Yorkshire. Even so, I sometimes have trouble distinguishing between Yorkshire and Scots accents.
Most of the "impeccable" American accents by English actors referenced in this thread are not. It's extremely rare not to hear a bit of an accent slip through at times. I don't really mind unless it's egregious.
I think Alan Cumming in The Good Wife sounds like an American most of the time. He almost never slips up.
you are an idiot.it is common knowledge that it is the other way around.
I was shocked to find out Anthont LaPaglia is Australian...he's that good.
Lucy Punch's American accent is laughably bad.
I don't know when Americans are doing English accents well. I'm not familiar enough with English dialects and regional/social strata to have an opinion. I thought Rene Z sounded good in Bridget Jones, but a poster above said she sounded too posh. That's subtle, and yet it makes a difference.
I've certainly heard enough badly done American accents on BBC to know it's a problem on both sides.
The Aussie Chris something who played a Brit in LETTERS TO JULIET was thoroughly raked over the coals by British critics for his inauthentic accent.
R165, isn't it clear (at least in the films) that Bridget is from the Home Counties? Her lovely, posh looking family home seems to reek of Home Counties.
A few people have mentioned "class" as indicated by British accent. For people who change their class (i.e. losing their fortune, gaining wealth, marrying well, marrying badly)--does their accent change? Or does it skip generations with parents encouraging their children to take on accent of the family's new class.
Or for that matter, why doesn't everyone just adopt an upper class accent?
I think Connie Neilson is the best at doing accents all around. She's danish I know, but I was always impressed with her.
[quote]Did Jodie pull off the southern accent in Silence?
No! No! No! She was so fucking bad. And she was horrible with the white trash accent in The Accused.
The actor who played Spike on Buffy is from Modesto, CA. He basically imitated Giles' offscreen accent, and did a damn fine job.
[quote]I think Linus Roache, who played the ADA in the closing seasons of Law & Order, pulls off a great American accent.
That's the only place where I had seen him. When he showed up in a film about Winston Churchill, I thought Linus Roache was doing a really good British accent.
One word: Tracy whats-her-name (comedian).
[quote]"Most American actors who try to do a Brooklyn accent end up sounding cartoonish. Take Cher in Moonstruck, for example. Terrible."
[quote]I didn't think she sounded cartoonish, but it made no sense that a woman living with her successful parents in a brownstone off the Promenade in the 1980s would have a thicker deep borough accent than her parents did.
You may be right, but to my admittedly Southern ears, she sounded very authentic—her dialect coach was Julie Bovasso, who played Loretta's aunt.
Watching a 1984 Joan Collins interview, she broke into a really funny New York accent that had the audience in stitches. During the interview she mentioned that it was very difficult to do the American accent for "The Girl In The Red Velvet Swing."
English upper class accents are much less prevalent now, therefore unlikely to be worth imitating. Deference is all but over. Money talks, and that's the accent now in vogue.
David Cameron has a solid upper-middle class accent, which he's never tried to amend. He'll never be seen as anything but 'posh' - currently a distinct liability.
Tony Blair has a Scottish public school and Oxford accent, which when PM he would often try to amend with glottal stops. The Miliband brothers do the same. Mildly embarrassing.
London Mayor Boris Johnson has a honking upper-middle class style - more emphatic than his fellow Etonian Cameron - but he is a self-conscious larger-than-life creation, with the confidence and energy to pull it off.
A clear generational shift can be heard in the difference between the accents of Prince Charles and his sons. Charles has distinctly upper class, or aristocratic, vowel sounds; William and Harry have less rarefied public school/BBC accents.
The best example of this is Christopher Plummer in Dolores Claiborne. Not that the Americans weren't also struggling with the regional accent.
Joan Collins' American accent is also really bad in The Women.
Julianne Moore did a good one in that Isherwood film a Single Man, though it lacks life and inflection. She slipped up on the word poof, very badly though. Surely someone could have told her.
I'm English & lived in America and do a very good American accent, but I'm not sure what region it's supposed to be. I do a very bad Noo Yawk accent. I can manage about one line at a time and then it becomes a parody.
I'm surprised people here think Hugh Lawrie's is good. I think it's awful and very wooden, if that's possible. To those of you who think it's good, where does it sound like he comes from? As most of you are American, you'd be a better judge than me.
I am still confused by the British accent/class thing. Surely not ALL wealthy people had been wealthy as children and surely not ALL poor people had grown up poor. So if someone became wealthy but had a poor accent, their accent did not indicate their class. Likewise a poor person who was raised in wealth.
I know most people stay within the class they grew up in, still enough people's economic status changes that I have to ask: was accent ever really given much credence as an indicator of class in Britain?
r184, I'm American and I agree with you about Hugh Laurie's accent being wooden. I wouldn't describe it as awful, though. His pronunciation is serviceable but nothing exceptional. He does do an admirable job of tackling complex medical jargon but even after all these years of playing an American he still can't pronounce "been" the American way (Americans say "bin").
[quote]was accent ever really given much credence as an indicator of class in Britain?
My God:- YES! Still is. But it's changed. A lot of people 'dumb down' their accents these days to make them seem more street cred or something, but the effect is ugly.
Class on all levels is a HUGE issue in England and you can not begin to understand the country without knowing something about it.
(& not just accent, use of words...even the use of the word England is a class thing. A posh person would never say Britain or 'The UK'. A posh person would also never say 'The States', ever...always America).
[quote] Peter Sellers was perfect as the American Pres in "Dr. Strangelove". No southern or eastern dialect, just flat unaffected middle-western without distinguishing characteristics except the absence of distinguishing characteristics -- probably patterned after Ike.
I believe Sellers is on record for saying that he based it on three-time presidential candidate and reformer Adlai Stephenson.
Brits doing great American accents:
Jamie Bamber (Battlestar Galactica) has a fantastic American accent. Plus Idris Elba.
Brits doing bad American accents: Rachel Weisz still has a considerably strong British speech rhythm even when speaking "American". Datalounge favourite Peter Dinklage is a fantastic actor, but he gave an interiew recently where he claimed that his GoT character speaks RP, which just isn't the case.
American doing great British accent: Renee Zellwegger
R185, money is not the most significant class indicator in the UK. Wealthy does NOT equal upper or upper-middle class nor posh.
Being poor, becoming wealthy does nothing whatsoever to change your class - no matter how wealthy you get. Class is far more about background, cultural and societal norms. Some people try to change their behaviour, societal fit etc. but there is a limit to how far that works. Accent is a massive marker because it marks who your parents are, where you lived, who you went to school with. That's why people trying to rise up the class register send their kids to posh schools - to get the accent, the cultural norms and the contacts necessary. See Kate Middleton for an example of that.
E.g. footballers get paid millions upon millions in the UK. But none of them would be considered upper or upper-middle class no matter how rich they ever get.
Yes, the whole thing is utterly nonsensical but that's the way it is. Most things are more egalitarian than that but getting less so.
Madonna can really hide her British accent although on occasion it might slip out on a word or two.
Just saw DARK SHADOWS. Helena Bonham Carter's American accent isn't bad but Eva Green's is terrible. The Aussie bitch who plays Victoria has an excellent American accent, though.
Jane Leeves in Frasier has got to be the leading example of the worst English accent by an Englishwoman. I still don't understand why the writers didn't just make Daphne a Southerner and let Leeves keep her natural accent instead of making her come up with that ghastly parody of Mancunian.
I totally disagree, especially on the issue of Americans imitating British accents. I've never heard a convincing one.
Zoe Wanamaker and Dominic Cooper's accents in MY WEEK WITH MARILYN were horrible. Same goes for Jonathan Cake's in DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES.
Ehle's Brit accent is excellent. Her Aussie accent in THE KING'S SPEECH wasn't dingo ate my baby good but it was still good.
[quote]I know most people stay within the class they grew up in, still enough people's economic status changes that I have to ask: was accent ever really given much credence as an indicator of class in Britain?
R185, I don't mean this in a bitchy way, but you are obviously American. Class in the UK has nothing to do with how much wealth you possess or amass. It has to do with whether you are descended from a family who owned land or from a family who worked the land, neither of which may be the case today.
Jennifer Ehle was born in the US, but her mother is Rosemary Harris. She grew up in both the US and the UK and is "bilingual."
You mean bidialectical.
R199, actually I meant diglossic but decided "bilingual" in good-natured quotes would be less pretentious. Thanks for your input!
Anne Bancroft did a flawless English accent in Pumpkin Eater in 1964.
reply to original question... utter bollocks Yanks are crap at English accents, admittedly with exceptions. I have to say though, to an Englishman having to endure Hugh Laurie' American accent. hahahah
A 16 year old English actress was saddled with having to do an American accent on EASTENDERS, one of Britain's most popular primetime soaps. Her accent was actually not all that bad to my Yank ears. She was unfairly criticized for it, I think. But then they had her character go back to the US and when she returned some months later she spoke with an Estuary English accent with no explanation given. Odd.
It was because she'd been watching British soap nonstop back "home".
This is the American who does not understand class. Now I completely do not understand it.
If class is not about money, then it feels like one of those ideas people care about in novels but that in life no one really bothers about. I mean "Here's a factor that has no material impact on my life, just makes me feel good about myself without being at all connected to who I am or what I have done."
Oh, wait...that sort of is like the Tea Party over here...
"The best example of this is Christopher Plummer in Dolores Claiborne. Not that the Americans weren't also struggling with the regional accent."
Christopher Plummer is Canadian.
Hahahahaha you're dreaming. I think he hardest accent to do is Australian. Have you heard Americans try to do it? Retards
I know he's Australian, but I always think Jesse Spencer's accent is fake.
That is possibly the worst statement I have ever heard. I have never heard a convincing English accent from an American. For some reason every American thinks that all English accents are they same, cockney tone. Where as in reality, next to no one speaks like that anymore. Think of the actors that play Andrew Lincoln, Lauren Cohen and David Morrissey from the Walking Dead who are all English and have amazing American accents. Damien Lewis from Homeland has another awesome accent. Stephen Moyer from True Blood. There are so many more actors and actresses as well.
So we've established that English actors and people can do convincing American accents. Although I don't know why I'd want to as everyone hates Americans.
I cannot name one American actor that has a remotely decent English accent and if you think that it's good. The chances are you haven't got a clue how English people really sound.
[quote]I have never heard a convincing English accent from an American.
Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones' Diary was flawless.
Other Americans who can do excellent British accents:
Natale Portman in The Other Boleyn Girl
Gwyneth Paltrow in Emma
Kevin Kline in As You Like It
James Marsters and Alex Denisoff on Buffy the Vampire Slayer
I can always tell period. I've yet to see a non-American do the accent convincingly. Now, in fairness, plenty of Americans have butchered far too many foreign accents for me to even try and quantify. The ones I find most aggresiously insulting are the fake African accents. They are horrible.
A note to any actors in the thread: West African countries do no roll their rs as severely as Central and South African countries. Also, the soft and melodic accents are more common to south and east African countries. West Africans basically sound like angry Germans (but do not roll the r so harshly). Lastly, no one, outside of a few remote tribes, speaks in tongue clicks.
From what I've heard, foreigners tend to either go with a southern accent they dug up out of a John Wayne western, or some sort of New York accent that is just too overdone to take seriously (Maryanne Jean DeBaptise, Alfred Molina, Idris Elba), or lastly (my personal fave) this weird Zena-like husky smokers voice (Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Lucy Lawless, Anthony Lapaglia). Or when all else fails they speak through their nose and run their words together so that it all comes out in some jumbled up mess (Hugh Laurie.
Then there's the bastards who don't even bother trying at all (Heath Ledger, Archie Panjabi).
" For some reason every American thinks that all English accents are they same, cockney tone."
That's not true. The go-to English accent for most American actors is not a Cockney accent at all, which is very hard for Americans to even try: instead, the default is usually a plummier English accent, which most American actors try to do so they can do Wilde, Shakespeare and Shaw (which most of them have to try to do for regional theater).
I think what you're really bitching about is Dick van Dyke's horrible Cockney accent from "Mary Poppins," which is what all Brits bitch about when they complain about Americans doing English accents. But you have to remember that was sixty years ago, and Dick van Dyke was not well trained as an actor, and he has himself admitted that in retrospect his terrible Cockney accent in that film was an atrocity.
But to make that lame attempt emblematic of all Americans doing English accents would be like somehow making Kenneth Branagh's dreadful attempt at a Brooklyn accent in "Dead Again" emblematic of all Brits trying to do American accents.
It is true that on the whole many more British actors can do a fine job with at American accents than American actors can do English accents--and that's in large part because British actors are much better trained. But r211 can a good list of Americans who can do fine English accents: Kevin Kline and James Marsters in particular.
[quote]Maryanne Jean DeBaptise
Honey, I don't think you have any business criticizing anyone else for [italic]anything[/italic] if you're really going to spell her name that way.
Marianne Jean-Baptiste, happy r214? Her accent still sucks. Can't wait to hear her "Look at how New York I am" voice in Wont Back Down.
[quote]Marianne Jean-Baptiste, happy [R214]?
I would have been, had you spelled it correctly the [italic]first[/italic] time.
Oh my God, a baby whale died because precious Marianne Jean-Baptiste's name was butchered. Whatever shall we do? This necessitates a virgin sacrifice. Prepare the virgin tribute at once!!! r214, care to volunteer?
If you are not American you should not call someone's fake American accent amazing. Damien Lewis' accent is completely obvious to me, and it makes it hard to pay attention to the scene at times.
For me it's a combination of that overly nasal tone and these foreign facial expressions. I know for a fact that Americans butcher almost every foreign accent they attempt (Who the fuck's idea was it to cast Morgan Freeman in Invictus?), but also, as an American I get tired of foreign actors walking around like their shit doesn't stink. Your accents suck too. But a paycheck is a paycheck so lets all just shut up about it and enjoy the show.
Foreign facial expressions?!
I cannot watch Revenge as Emily Van Camp cannot do an American Accent.
Vanessa Redgrave and her late daughter did very fine Southern Accents in various works. They are the only two actresses I have ever heard do a "dead on" Southern accent.
Jennifer Ehle is naturally bidialectical and Gillian Anderson sure the heck isn't.
Cherry Jones (who is American) is naturally bidilectical in that she can go from a more Northern accent in public and her natural Southern accent in private.
[quote]Although I don't know why I'd want to as everyone hates Americans.
Not really but keep trying.
I hate when anyone tries to do a Southern accent as they are very diverse and most actors do some standardized accent that exaggerates the drawl too much. Steel Magnolias and GWTW are perfect examples. Very few Southerners sound like that. They can be all over the map. New Orleans is going to sound different than Atlanta. Then you have the urban vs. the rural. Upper class vs. white trash, Cajun, Tidewater, Low Country and don't forget the Gullah dialect.
I think Stephen Moyer does a brilliant accent on True Blood and find it odd when he speaks with his British accent as it sounds put on!! But I guess you have to be from that country to know whether its good or not. When I hear Brits do American accents it is usually pretty good as there are distinctive American slurs and accents which shouldn't be difficult to master but UK accents don't seem to be covered properly by American actors, who seem to think all British people speak with clipped hooray Henry accents! I know about 2 people who speak posh English so why does America think we all do!! What about Welsh? Scouse? Mancunian? Geordie? West Country? Yorkshire? Midlands?
[quote] I know about 2 people who speak posh English so why does America think we all do!!
I blame Hermione Gingold
This is ridiculous. Just cuz americans are too arrogant to believe anyone outside the US could master their accent doesn't make it true. American english is by far the easiest language to learn. Of course, not everyone can do it perfectly and that requires talent. So, are you saying, out of all the talents in the world, there is no such talent as mastering american accent...jeez... Btw, how do you know americans can "so easily" do the british accent? not everyone can do it right, even though it sounds right to you. Get some perspective.
Helena Bonham-Carter in Fight Club is the best fake yank accent I've ever heard. Her American accent was so smooth, relaxed and natural I had absolutely no clue she was British until years after I saw the movie. And when I watched it again and paid careful accent attention, there was STILL no way you could Helena B-C was really English.
Emily Blunt didn't even make an attempt in "Your Sister's Sister"
Nicole tends to sound like Marilyn Monroe. However, Kate Beckinsale does a flawless American accent in "The Last Days of Disco". It was the first movie I saw her in, and I thought she was an American actress. Also, Simon Baker is pretty good too. First movie I saw him in was in "L.A. Confidential" and I also thought he was an American.
Family Ties was set in the Midwest, yet Michael J. Fox's Canadian accent made him so out of place on that show.
Gotta agree with Emily Van Camp. Being in the Hampton, her Canadian accent seems so out of place there.
And Jason Priestly! His Canadian accent and his character was from Minnesota!
Ridiculous. American actors CANNOT do British or Australian accents, period. They're awful at it. The Brits and Aussies are great at American accents. Bob Hoskins, Guy Pearce, Heath Ledger, Charlize Theron (South African), etc. No idea where you get your info, NaN...
[quote] Idris Elba from the Wire who was on The Office for a few episodes.
On the Wire, I thought Elba was awful. Seriously. Not the acting, which was outstanding, but the accent. Yes, he succeeded in not sounding British, but he in no way had a convincing black urban accent. He was so flat, at times almost mumbling. No inflection, rarely authentic pronunciation. But, he did sound menacing and not English, so it worked.
I'd imagine it's a really hard thing to do, to capture the way that someone else speaks, and do it consistently for a whole TV series or movie. Beyond simple pronunciation, vowel sounds, accents, etc. (the technical stuff), there's the cadence and flow and all of the little exceptions to general rules and idiosyncrasies that each accent presents. I'm satisfied if the actor can get somewhere in the ballpark.
yes r220. Beyond the voice there is a way the face moves when words are spoken and Damien Lewis as well as David Harewood both have issues with relaxing their facial muscles when they speak and not pursing their lips all the time.
I grew up around a lot of different cultures so it's just something I tend to notice, I don't think most Americans pay attention to it, but it's always been a dead giveaway to me, even when the accent is near perfect.
r232, I agree that Americans kill most accents they attempt, but to an American ear every single one of your examples is crap. Charlize's go-to method is to take every stereotyped American accent and make it monotone so that she avoids being accused of overdoing it. Heath Ledger was just crap to listen to, his true accent always leaked through especially in Monster's Ball and in that Batman movie I just assumed that version of the Joker was supposed to be British because there was no way that was any sort of American accent.
Like I said earlier, they are all crap at it when a native speaker is listening. It will never be fully convincing on either side.
A lot of Australian actors are particularly talented at this, I think. Toni Colette and Rose Byrne come to mind.
And I was shocked when I learned that Ryan Kwanten is Australian. He does a southern American accent better than most American actors.
R238 Andrew Lincoln from The Walking Dead is Aussie as well and he plays a small town Georgia sheriff. So not only is he doing an American dialect, but a regional one. I didn't even know he was Australian until In saw him in an interview and heard his real voice/accent.
You're right, Aussies are particularly adept at being able to carry off American dialects.
Rachel Griffiths, Hugh Laurie, and Rebecca Hall all do very good American accents. In fact, I thought Rebecca was American playing British in Frost v Nixon. Kate Winslet does a passable American accent.
I like Kate but always think her voice is flat and uninteresting when she plays American.
Ryan Kwanten from True Blood pulls may not pull off a southern accent perfectly BUT he doesn't sound remotely Australian on that show. He's had time to practice.
On the other hand I figured out Josh Bowman from Revenge was English from watching the first season of the series. It seemed like whenever he had to emote he slipped back in it. A lot of my friends got in on the show during the later half of season 1 or Season 2 and by then he had the accent pretty much all ironed out.
This has turned out to be an interesting thread.
R75, Jason Isaacs not only does a really clean American accent, he does a fantastic Boston accent, no mean feat.
Most American actors who try it end up doing a New York accent with a few dropped "r's" and sort of strangled elongated "a's" instead. For some reason it's always been an incredibly difficult dialect for actors to get.
Isaacs nails it in "Brotherhood" and is also quite fuckable. (Although he is reportedly straight.)
I'll agree with Rose Byrne and will introduce Josh Lawson (glasses), from "House of LIes". He has a great American accent:
As a Southerner (native Texan) I find that not many people can pull off a convincing accent. Even if they do, it's the wrong dialect. Steven Moyer for example, does a very genteel deep southern accent when his character is supposed to originate from Louisiana. I can tell you that in Texas, other people can tell what part if the state you're from by the way you speak. So even those accents are very regional. I think Ryan Kwanten does an excellent southern drawl. It doesn't sound forced to me.
Can anyone tell Piers Morgan's class from his accent?
Tom Wilkinson owns this thread.
Thank you so much r212. You're so right about Americans butchering African accents and getting regions wrong. Forrest Whittaker and Kerry Washington were absolutely horrible in the Last King of Scotland, as was Morgan Freeman in Invictus. That waiter from Mike and Molly does nothing resembling a Senegalese accent. And many from Whoopi to Denzel have gotten countries and whole regions wrong.
But I have to take my hat off to Jill Scott in The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, not only does she physically look like the stereotypical woman from that part of Africa, Botswana, she was playing. She also did amazing with the Tswana accent and managing to pull off their mannerisms remarkably well. She looked and sounded more authentic than even African actors from other regions. Meanwhile, Anika Noni Rose was hitting us with a melange of accents and pronunciations from geographically wide and impossible parts of Africa.
I'm African but I have to admit even I can tell non-American blacks do terribly attempting black American accents. Ideas Elba, Boris Kodjoe, Marriane Jean Baptiste and Djimon Hounsou come to mind.
Some of you people really have tin ears. Both Nicole Kidman and Toni Collette can do flawless American accents. So shut up.
Non-Lithuanians cannot do Lithuanian accents. What else is new?
Christian Bale is so good that a lot of people don't even know he's Welsh. They think he's American born and bred. Being a method actor he says while he's shooting a film he keeps up the American accent the entire time, on and off screen until the film wraps.
Now the guy who plays Rick on Walking Dead is pretty bad with an American accent I think.
OP how would an Amercian know if someone is doing a good British accent?
I like how SNL made fun of Damien Lewis' pursed lips last week.
there are Americans who are good at British (Streep, Paltrow for example) and vice versa (those who've been named already many times) but what NO ONE can do, American or foreign born, is a convincing southern accent. They are all TERRIBLE at it, including the Americans.
For the last time Hugh Laurie's American accent is just horrible. It is not good at all, far too nasal and his facial expressions never match up unless he is trying for grumpy all the time. His American accent is the reason I am so happy House was canceled.
Add to the list of crappy foreigners pretending to be American: Idris Elba, Kevin McKidd, Nicole Kiddman, both of those guys from Homeland, Liam Hemsworth, Marsha Thomason, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, and god-awful Archi Panjabi.
I get the sense that most Europeans tend to think as long as you don't sound European you're doing the accent right. WRONG!
And yes, I know Americans ruin accents about 99% of the time. The thing is though, I thin everyone from every culture and country does. My only standard at this point is at least learn to relax the facial muscles and not do that stiff upper lip thing. Also, and this is a big one, Americans are not as nasal as people tend to think they are.
Joely Fischer's American accent (in Nip Tuck) is oretty fool-proof.
Correction: I meant Joely Richardson.
That British chick in Brokedown Palace was pretty good with her American accent. Sorry, can't remember her name.
Beyoncé Knowles can do any accent. She is amazed by the power she has to masterfully and convincingly use any accent.
OP really? I always assumed it was the opposite. There are many non-americans who do american accents flawlessly. Cate Blanchett owns this, but there are many. The list of ones that don't do it well is far shorter I think (Jude Law, awful)
What Americans have done great Brit accents? Julianne Moore in "A Single Man". That's it.
[quote]For the last time Hugh Laurie's American accent is just horrible. It is not good at all, far too nasal and his facial expressions never match up unless he is trying for grumpy all the time.
The thing I've always hated about it is that he bearrrrrs down too harrrrrd on his R's.
The lead female actress who plays Olivia in Fringe does a perfect flat East Coast accent. She's Australian.
R19 I can easily tell an English accent vs. an Australian one. Australians sound twangy instead of clipped.
Half the cast of Zero Dark Thirty is Australian, and I would never have guessed it.
The actors fron Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand do a far better job with American accents than American actors do with British accents.
Is this person American? Because it is the biggest load of crap I have ever heard. American people can barely do English accents, 9/10 are awful at it. I think doing an American accent is pretty easy for people to do
i think its because youre american, for me when an american (leonardo di caprio for instance) tries to pull of a authentic english accent or a scottish accent etc, it is always noticable.
Welshman Matthew Rhys is incredibly-convincing as a straight-laced yankee in "The Americans". No one would guess that he is not a U.S. native.
And btw, it is one of the best shows ever on TV.
NO ONE can do a convincing Australian accent... Meryl came pretty close with her Australian/Kiwi accent in Evil Angels though.
I disagree with the OP. But I do get annoyed when people exaggerate the ability of others to imitate US accents. Sometimes non-Americans just get overly high pitched and nasal to the point that it sounds unnatural. Nicole Kidman and Kate Winslet are major examples.
I noticed that the bad US accents are mostly on programs that are primarily targeted towards the foreign country- probably because they figure the audience wouldn't notice the difference. It is only the Hollywood/US productions that have authentic attempts at US accents.
I think the UK guy on "Revenge" is good, although he sometimes slips out. The Welsh guy on Brothers and sisters is phenomenal. So was the Australian women on that show too. Not only did they sound American, but they did it without having a strange and eccentric tilt to it.
r267 How in the world would you know however that British people can do an authentic US accent though? People who aren't from a country are mostly the ones to think that someone has "nailed" it whereas those actually RAISED there notice the flaws.
When Rod Stewart sings songs from the American Songbook, he takes on a Scarlett O'Hara accent.
Heck, some American's cannot do a proper American accent. Someone mentioned it earlier but I have never really heard a proper Southern accent. It all sounds like they took lessons from GWTW.
I grew up in Charlotte NC and now live in Southern Texas and I laugh at actors. No one talks the way they do on a show like True Blood. Even the actors on Dallas (both old and new) don't do it right.
So it isn't only people from outside the US
R162 Jesse Spencer was so unconvincing as a working-class Chicagoan when Chicago Fire first started, but he has become much more American-sounding. Thankfully (for my ears), he doesn’t have much of a Great Lakes twang.
But who cares, really? If Jesse’s accent starts to trouble me, I just think about licking his wondrous treasure trail, and deciding whether I want to go up or down from there. He. Is. So. Fine.
R221 Emily Van Camp is anything other than American? I’ve watched all three shows she’s been in, and it never occurred to me. Where is she from?
The worst accent I’ve ever heard isn’t an international incident: it’s Anne Heche’s monumentally bad way of speaking New Jersey in Donnie Brasco.
I am surprised by how many people are complimenting Joely Richardson's take on an American accent on Nip/Tuck. It is pretty obviously fake - pretty nasal, strange elongations of certain sounds. I could tell right away. Julian McMahon's is worse, however.
I've seen a lot of online bitching about Diane Kruger's accent in "The Bridge, " but she sounds fine to me. And in a related situation, I read that Catalina Sandino Moreno took lessons from Demian Bichir to get the proper Mexican accent. (She's Colombian.)
R275 - Jesse Spencer isn't all that convincing as an Aussie.