Mad, bad or just completely outrageous. This is my personal top 10 of the worst accents I have ever seen in films. Hollywood has a tendency for scoring own goals when producing films set overseas and prefers to cast a big name instead of actors of that actual nationality, and this is a few examples of when this has had quite cringe worthy consequences. We all remember those moments when we watch a film and an actor turns up on screen and spouts out some god awful attempt at an accent, here is the 10 that I can never forget.
1. Keanu Reeves – Dracula (Francis Ford Coppola, 1992)
Coppola’s essay in over the top bonkersness (that is a word!) had more than a few flaws. I know this is an obvious choice I know, but I was not really given a choice. Not exactly the most charismatic actor anyway, Ted Theodore Logan delivers an effeminate mockney turn that is beyond laughable. He is permanently on the verge of saying “Eeeexcelleeeeennnnnt, Rufus me old mucker!” It is testament to just how bad a job he does when he out does Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder and Anthony Hopkins all doing bonkers accents. The even worst thing is that he was allowed to commit a repeat offence in Kenneth Branagh’s Much Ado About Nothing!
2. Colin Farrell and Ewan McGregor – Cassandra’s Dream (Woody Allen, 2007)
So, Woody Allen gets a Dubliner and Perth’s finest together to play brothers who are very close and both live in London. That is fine as they are too good actors, but they need to have the same accents. Of course, let’s make them cockneys! Genius! Unfortunately neither of them can do the accent particularly well and we get “gore blimey guv’nor apples and pears” via Dublin and Perth. It is not a mixture that is pleasant on the eras! Oh, and it is also an absolutely terrible film.
3. Don Cheadle – Ocean’s Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen (Steven Soderbergh, 2001 – 2007)
On the subject of mockney, Don Cheadle’s Basher Tarr is the surely the benchmark of American actors failing miserably at Landan aaccints raising even the standard set by Dick Van Dyke! The worst thing is that there is no reason for his character to be English. If they want an English character then for God’s sake get an English actor, I am sure there are a few of them about.
4. Nicholas Cage – Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (John Madden, 2001)
Ah good old Nic Cage, not exactly regarded as the most diverse of actors (and rightly so). So that considered whose sick joke of an idea was it to get him doing an Italian accent?!? I know this maybe before the adverts, but due to his blatantly stereotypically racist accent he just wants to ask everyone when their a-Dolmio a-day is -ah? To make matters worse he does have Italian family. The usually dependable but only when English John Hurt is not exactly much better as an Italian either.
5. Colin Farrell – Alexander (Oliver Stone, 2004)
Colin Farrell can do an American accent ok, but with Hollywood epics like this the trick is to attempt a non regional accent, or basically very dull English. Unfortunately Farrell’s thick Dublin accent is just too strong and cannot be toned down, so one of the greatest warriors of all time tends to simply sound like he has had a few too many Guinness’s. What adds insult to injury is that Jared Leto also seems to be doing an Irish accent as maybe Oliver Stone thought we would not notice so much? Combine that with Angelina Jolie’s hammed up attempt an Eastern European accent as Alexander’s mother and it is no wonder Alexander the Great had a few mental issues.
6. Tom Hollander – Hanna (Joe Wright, 2011)
In what is a slightly bonkers but very enjoyable film, the most outrageous element is Tom Hollander’s extremely camp, bleach blond eyeliner wearing, bright tracksuit wearing, German assassin Isaacs. More bizarre than horrifically bad maybe, but this is one completely unforgettable character so I feel compelled to have this on this list. Not only is this a bizarre character but his German accent is actually not very good and is pretty much a tad racist. Cate Blanchett’s attempt at Texan is not much better either.
7. Willem Defoe – The Reckoning (Paul McGuigan, 2003)
An underrated film in my view that is actually very watchable. It is set in 14th Century England so it was a good idea to cast British thesps like Paul Bettany, Brian Cox, Tom Hardy, Simon McBurney, Mathew Macfayden, Ewan Bremner and …. Willem Dafoe! There is no denying that famous jaw line adds presence but for his accent it would appear he only watched Emmerdale and Coronation Street as research and decided to combine the two.
8. James Coburn – A Fistful of Dynamite (Sergio Leone, 1971)
This maybe the lesser known of Sergio Leone’s films but it should be well known just for James Coburn’s oooiiiiriiiiesh explosives expert. It is a great film, but once again like Don Cheadle in Ocean’s; there is no reason for his character to be of that nationality in the first place. What makes it worse is that he struggles and cannot hide his own accent, and so just sounds like a combination of the leprechaun in the Lucky Charms adverts mixed with John Wayne.
9. Michael Caine – On Deadly Ground (Steven Seagal, 1994)
Directed by Steven Seagal and containing a god awful preachy and embarrassing eco friendly speech at the end, but that is no way near as bad as Michael Caine’s accent. In still trying to come to terms with Jaws: The Revenge he must have been desperate but why the hell did he try a Texan accent?!? They love a British baddy so why did he not just do that? Instead he is struggling so badly it is Texas via Peckham.
10. Dick Van Dyke – Mary Poppins (Robert Stevenson, 1964)
An obvious choice I know, but it is regarded as one of the godfathers of appalling accents so I had to include it. We have all seen it; I do not need to say any more!