I haven’t watched ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ in years and don’t remember it clearly. Was Renée Zellweger’s fake British accent in that one as awful as it sounds in the trailers for this week’s belated sequel, or is she just woefully out of practice? With that as our first example, let’s look at some other embarrassing attempts by actors to speak in accents they can’t pull off.
Kevin Costner needs to stay away from doing accents. In ‘Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves‘, he puts on an unconvincing British accent that he slips in and out of throughout the course of the film. Then, in ‘Thirteen Days‘, Costner’s Bostonian accent is so bad he almost sinks what is otherwise a really great film.
Costner’s least-offensive accents are the Southern drawl he applies to Jim Garrison in ‘JFK‘ and criminal Butch Haynes in ‘A Perfect World‘, but even there, he comes off as if he’s trying too hard to over-annunciate every line of dialogue. Costner can be a great actor when he gets the right part. Sadly, he’ll never be able to master anything beyond his original Southern Californian voice. He should stop taking parts that ask him to try.
Kate Winslet spends the first third of ‘Steve Jobs‘ chatting away with absolutely no accent whatsoever. Then, at some point in the second segment, she starts using a really strong Polish accent. It comes so completely out of the blue that it almost gave me whiplash. I wasn’t sure if it was the same character or what the heck was going on. From then to the end of the movie, that accent comes and goes endlessly, to the point that any time she speaks, all I could pay attention to was whether or not she was employing that wavering, terrible accent!
Having seen Steven Seagal’s ‘On Deadly Ground‘ in the theater, I can forgive anyone who, a) either having seen it or not, does not remember the movie, or b) saw the movie long ago and thereby thinks that its particular flaws have already been experienced to a sufficient degree. The muddled film’s villain, Michael Jennings, is meant to be a Texan oil tycoon (complete with American goon slang) and is played by Michael Caine, who, even at a low ebb in 1994, does not have the accent chops to pull off a big screen Boss Hogg.
M. Enois Duarte
Since I just recently watched it to review the UHD Blu-ray, I’d have to say Kristen Stewart’s faux British accent in ‘Snow White and the Huntsman‘ is absolutely the worst. Not only is she unable to pull it off convincingly, it seems as though she mostly mumbles her dialogue while gazing stupefyingly at others and at the make-believe creatures. As entertaining as the movie is, there are signs of script rewrites and alterations (likely done in post) and editing to remove much of Stewart’s dialogue. Apparently, even the filmmakers didn’t much care for the otherwise talented actress’ attempt to appear British. Although her character name isn’t given top billing, Charlize Theron is the real standout star of the film and has far more screen time than Stewart.
I genuinely think that she’s the best young actress working right now, but fresh on my mind is Alicia Vikander’s American accent in ‘Jason Bourne‘. Vikander is typically wonderful at adopting accents, but she didn’t sound American at all during the latest ‘Bourne’ entry. Slipping in and out of different accents, I couldn’t tell if her well-educated and intelligent character was supposed to have English as a second, third, or fourth language. With no mention of her being from another nation, I assume that she was meant to be American by birth, but that certainly wasn’t an American accent that she was doing.
Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)
Having been born and raised in South Carolina, you’d think I’d take this golden opportunity to lash out at some of the all-time most cringeworthy Suthe’n draaaaawwwwwls ever committed to film. There’s one fake accent that got stuck in my craw more than any other, though, and that’d be Katie Carr’s short-lived role as Caitlin in NBC’s ‘Heroes‘. Playing a bonnie lass from the Emerald Isle, Carr studied under one of the greats as her dialect coach: Lucky the Leprechaun. Evidence of her dreadful stab at an Irish brogue is unexpectedly scarce on YouTube, but here’s a taste that’s actually more subdued than usual:
“Payter Petrelli! Remember me? Caitlin? Y’r Oirish flame? Ye done stranded me in a future that dinna exist no more!” She makes Chief O’Hara from the 1960s ‘Batman’ sound authentic. ‘Heroes’ completely abandoned her plot line and never so much as mentioned Caitlin again, but nearly a decade later, I still do impressions of her to an audience of no one. Peter may have forgotten you, Caitlin, but I never will.
As a longtime Boston resident, I’m particularly sensitive to bad Bostonian accents in movies and TV. The thing about it is, most people in Boston don’t speak with any particular accent. It’s really only a small subset of locals from a few neighborhoods (primarily Southie and Dorchester) who speak in that thick, stereotypical “Bahsten” accent. And yet, every time you watch a movie set in the city, every damn character has to drop their Rs (or “ahs”).
Shannon already mentioned Kevin Costner in ‘Thirteen Days’. Although that movie is a docudrama about real events, Costner’s character is a fictional composite of several different people. He’s not playing JFK or a Kennedy brother. There’s no need whatsoever for him to speak with any accent. Why does he insist on doing it?
Likewise, if Jack Nicholson had used his normal speaking voice in ‘The Departed‘, absolutely no one would ever have thought twice about it. Instead, he had to affect that ridiculous, comical accent that just draws attention to how bad he is at it and how fake it sounds.
Tell us in the Comments below about the fake movie and TV accents you’ve found the most laughable or distracting.