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The 10 Worst Film Accents In Hollywood History

by Adam Sutherland
20 October 2013 62 Comments

Some actors can nail an accent bang on, but others would be better off not bothering, like these ten for instance...

I suck at accents and impressions.  I was born in Yorkshire, can’t do a Yorkshire accent. My Welsh comes across all racist curry house. My Scottish is always a quivering Miss Jean Brodie. I can only do my own voice which I don’t want to, a too-high, campy RP. But I’m not a professional actor.

Some can do it and are truly impressive, like the underrated Peter Serafinowicz. He can do Darth Maul, Terry Wogan and Pele and nail it every time.

This list is not about the likes of him. Some people do shit accents in films and it is our duty to mock them.  I’m not including Kevin Costner in Robin Hood because he didn’t try, nor Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins because it kind of worked and he’s cool anyway.

Keanu Reeves in Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

Famously horrible but it has to go in anyway. It’s actually hard to tell what he’s meant to sound like. Keneenu gets the most stick for his role in this film and rightly so, it’s awful, but there are voices all over the place. Delicious beautiful delight Winona Ryder isn’t so bad because she’s quiet but Anthony Hopkins and Gary Oldman are clearly doing it for laughs – “I have crossed oceeeaaans of tiiime to fiiind you”.  Oldman is good at silly voices and clearly enjoys them, consider his comedy Texan in The Fifth Element for example.

Sean Connery in The Untouchables (1987)

“Do you know what a blood oath is, Mr. Nesh? Och aye the noo.”

Connery has form for this as is well known but it’s especially egregious here because he’s playing an Irishman, surely not that much of a stretch across the Straits of Moyle.  But no, Connery does not bother, that’s his voice, like it or lump it. This is a problem with quite a few superstars on this list – the filmmaker has to do anything to appease them to get them on the production and then because of their power (and often talent) they act how they like and cannot be stopped.  So here, Connery regularly mentions that he’s Irish and nobody pulls him up on it.

He does not care at all though, for that’s his voice. In The Hunt For Red October  he’s a defecting Soviet Scottish submarine captain. In Highlander he’s an Egyptian Spanish Scottish semi-immortal warrior. The Name of the Rose gets a pass because everyone does their own thing – they just act – and all the better for it.

Orson Welles in The Lady From Shanghai (1947)

Dreadful Oirish tomfoolery from Welles here, who as director and producer did not need to make his own character Irish, merely not local. He just did it for the acting and it is rubbish, the worst sort of piglet-under-the-arm bucolic Irishness. Damn good film though if you can get past his voice (you can, it is really good).

The scene in this clip was the direct inspiration for Robert Shaw’s famous speech in Spielberg’s Jaws.

Brad Pitt and Harrison Ford in The Devil’s Own (1997)

To Pitt’s credit, he learnt from this that he could not do the voice, so when it was time to play an Irishman again in Snatch he didn’t bother and just muttered gibberish for laughs

They both win (or lose) for attempting strange, strange sort of Irish (again) in this stupid pro-IRA nonsense. They are crap, the film’s crap, it’s all crap.

To Pitt’s credit, he learnt from this that he could not do the voice, so when it was time to play an Irishman again in Snatch he didn’t bother and just muttered gibberish for laughs, an acting decision which would have improved The Devil’s Own tenfold.

Michael Caine in On Deadly Ground (1994)

Watch this clip. Would you believe that Sir Michael is meant to be Texan? You can tell because of his bolo tie.  Caine is here in one of his finest paycheck moments, utterly neglecting to give a fuck. Caine is better than Connery for three reasons:  1 – He is just better than Connery;  2 – For proof see The Man Who Would Be King and decide; 3- He at least sort of attempts accents, but not much. Whether it’s proper Cockney like in Alfie – “Shadders? On me lungs?” or slightly posher Cockney as in Zulu – “Don’t you throw those bladdy spears at me.”, he’s always a trooper and great with it.

If you haven’t seen On Deadly Ground then drop everything and watch it immediately. It is awesome. Steven Seagal has a ferocious hand slap fight and delivers a horrifying three minute long environmental speech (cut from the original ten minutes).

John Wayne in The Conqueror (1956)

This is not a good film and it was not a good idea to have John Wayne play Genghis Khan.  He has a pointy hat and eye make-up to give him slitty eyes, but if you look closely you can see it is still John Wayne.  He also sounds just like John Wayne except he’s doing something. He’s speaking even  slower than usual. That’s it, that’s his accent.

“This woman is for my pleasure” is not a bad line, though.

Ewan McGregor in the Star Wars prequels (1999 – 2005)

McGregor is a total dish and far from the worst thing in these films but there’s something off about his voice.  He’s British and an actor so he should be able to do RP, and has done so in other films – if he’d have stuck to that he’d have been fine. Instead he took the odd choice to do an Alec Guinness impression.  Not only that but a fairly elderly Alec Guinness impression, from a 30 something McGregor. It’s just really weird and it nags, this ineluctable feeling that he’s doing it wrong.

The gambling on the pod race scene was a terrible idea too and he got lucky. Idiot about the clone army too.

Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

There’s very little of him in this trailer because most clips have been deleted from Youtube but Rooney goes the whole hog here, pretending to be Japanese with slitty eyes and big teeth and lots of Ah-so velly solly rubbish.  He actually yells ‘Horry Gorightry’ at Hepburn at one point.

It’s fucking awful and fucking racist.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is annoying in many ways aside from him. I hate how too many girls have that Hepburn poster. I detest that terrible song by Deep Blue Something, it’s sewage.  There’s also something very wrong about Holly herself. She wants jewels from Tiffany but if she didn’t buy so many Givenchy dresses she might be able to afford them.  And why is she so poor anyway?  She’s a prostitute who looks like Audrey Hepburn. Ka-ching! She must be pathetic at accounting or just appalling in the sack.

Rooney goes the whole hog here, pretending to be Japanese with slitty eyes and big teeth and lots of Ah-so velly solly rubbish.  He actually yells ‘Horry Gorightry’ at Hepburn at one point.

And what a waste that would be.

Nicolas Cage in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (2001)

It’s hard to tell with Nic Cage, he does his own thing. Is he acting? What is he up to?  John Hurt is okay, a bit hammy, and Penelope Cruz sensibly sticks with Spanish/Mediterranean but what is Cage doing?  He’s an Italian army officer as interpreted by Super Mario. He’s ever so weird, that Nic Cage. Startling accent in Con Air too (although that film rocks).

Christian Bale in the Batman trilogy (2005 – 2012)

Bale can do an upper-class New York accent just fine. His Bruce Wayne voice is the same as his voice for Patrick Bateman in American Psycho, which is accurate because they are the same character (delusional rich boy, girlfriends die quite a lot) and he does it well.

It’s his Batman that’s the trouble. He sounds like a bad wrestler, growling and rumbling. It’s also quite indistinct. There must have been some situation when he’s been threatening goons and they’ve had to ask him to repeat his warnings.  “RAAARGH RAAAAGH I’M BATMAN” he rants.

Try to do the Batman voice. Now try to do it fighting a hoodlum

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image descriptionCOMMENTS

TXDon 3:56 am, 22-Jun-2012

Seriously. How did Kevin Costner's Robin Hood NOT make this list?

Paul davies 7:11 am, 22-Jun-2012

Leonardo di crapio in blood diamond should have made this list

Jimmy C 7:41 am, 22-Jun-2012

Johnny Depp's Keith Richards schtick in the Pirates franchise really gets on my wick.

Chris 8:16 am, 22-Jun-2012

Nicolas cage trumps them all. Utterly useless and the director should be ashamed of himself

Joshua Burt 8:42 am, 22-Jun-2012

Great choices Adam! My favourite bad accent ever is Marlon Brando in Mutiny on the Bounty, check it out! - - I know right, whaaaaaaaat!

Alta Rica 9:14 am, 22-Jun-2012

Tom cruise in Far Away? Tommy Lee Jones in Blown Away? Gerard Buter and Sam Worthington in any film. @paul davies - i'd say Caprio's zimbabwean/safa/afrikaans accent was actually not bad

Mongalong 10:03 am, 22-Jun-2012

Adam here - oh there are many, many more, as you folk point out. But some, like Cruise in Far and Away or Jolie in Alexander I couldn't bear to sit through again, even for the purpose of analysis.

Jimmy C 10:22 am, 22-Jun-2012

Kate Blanchett's Katharine Hepburn impression in The Aviator was pretty annoying too. That wasn't acting, it was impersonating.

Neutraboi 10:54 am, 22-Jun-2012

Are we forgetting Colin Farrels Irish accent for Alexander.....more hilarious than a fail though.

themainliner 11:51 am, 22-Jun-2012

Tom cruise in Far Away is by far the most hilarious accent in cinema history. I think he was trying to emulate Welles in The Lady From Shanghai. He fails to reach those dizzying lows.

johnnyw 12:32 pm, 22-Jun-2012

Sean Connery's hopeless, a really dreadful actor, Cage isn't really an actor, he's just someones nephew

Lisa 3:18 pm, 22-Jun-2012

Don Cheadle. Ocean's Eleven remake

yogavo 2:20 pm, 25-Jun-2012

james cromwell in l.a. confidential is laughable

Diego 3:03 pm, 26-Jun-2012

Angelina in 'The Tourist'

Androo 4:51 pm, 27-Oct-2012

Sean Beans Oirish accent in the Patriot Games always annoyed me! Der gone

Markxist 5:27 pm, 27-Oct-2012

Please please PLEASE check out Robert Duvall's Doctor Watson in The Seven Per Cent Solution. Worst attempt at an English accent, ever. And he walks like he's shit himself in every scene

Mark S 5:32 pm, 27-Oct-2012

Ray Winstons South African accent in Tracker

Petty sessions 7:04 pm, 27-Oct-2012

Is it The Greatest Story Ever Told where John Wayne has the cameo as a Roman centurion at the crucifixion? "Truly this man was the son of Gawd".

Tuff Gnarl 7:22 pm, 27-Oct-2012

I CANNOT believe you didn't mention Ray Winstone. He takes one step away from his Geeza persona and it's awful with a capital A.

Guybrush 7:30 pm, 27-Oct-2012

First enjoyable article I've read in a while on here! For my two penneth worth, Pete Postlethwaite in the Usual Suspects; what the f*cks all that about?

Markxist 10:04 pm, 27-Oct-2012

'Yonda lies da castle of my fadda' as the distinctly Brooklyn Tony Curtis has it as the noble knight in The Black Shield Of Falsworth

Mark 12:38 am, 28-Oct-2012

Christian Bale should not be on the list. First of all, yes many people make fun of his Batman yelling, but that is not an accent. It's merely yelling. It's not that he's bad at yelling, it's that it's over the top sometimes. Nothing to do with accents though. His Bruce Wayne voice is NOT the same as Patrick Bateman. As a non-American I can forgive you for not hearing the subtle difference, but Patrick Bateman is much more posh rich New Yorker while Bruce Wayne is a much more subdued general American accent. Ewan McGregor should not be on this list either. His accent is fine. There are much worse out there deserving of the list. Michael Caine is pretty bad at doing American accents. His cockney always comes out. The actor who played Malfoy in Rise of the Planet of the Apes was pretty terrible. His British comes out all the time. How did you feel about Elijah Wood's accent in Lord of the Rings? As an American, I thought it was fine but wanted to hear from a Brit.

Kiran 2:05 pm, 28-Oct-2012

how is dick van dyke's totally unforgivable cockney accent in mary poppins not in here?

ali mclauchlan 12:02 am, 29-Oct-2012

What a load of bollock

Jason 9:52 am, 29-Oct-2012

Serafinowicz WAS Darth Maul. Hence him doing a line or two of it in series two of 'Spaced'.

mike 11:19 am, 29-Oct-2012

marlon brando in tea house of the august moon, some sort of japanese accent,even had his eyes pulled back, richard gere the jackal , irish, still trying to find what part of ireland this comes from, and tony curtis in some like it hot , who at the time said he based it on that fine english actor cary grant,who himself said , sounds nothing like me and never spoke to tony curtis again,

Will 12:11 pm, 29-Oct-2012

What about Bale in Reign Of Fire? The worst attempt at a British accent ever. I'm British and I should know its bad.

Chris 12:25 pm, 30-Oct-2012

You've missed the two worst accents ever: Leonardo DiCaprio in Blood Diamond and Natalie Portman in V for Vendetta

two bob 3:57 am, 31-Oct-2012

Will ol' chap...isn't Christian Bale British?....therefore he's a Brit doing a bad British accent?...also what accent should an actor in a historical drama, one in which say, John Wayne plays a Roman soldier, be using? British? Italian? Latin? Like wise Kevin Costner..what accent would Robin Hood have used?

Ibrahim 1:07 pm, 12-Dec-2012

Isn't Colin Farrell actually Irish? How could his Irish accent be bad? :/

Jezinho 2:49 pm, 28-Jan-2013

It always irritates me that when Americans try to do English accents, they only ever make it as far as a posh one (Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones, Gillian Anderson in Shadow Dancer, etc.). At least DvD made an effort with the cockney accent and the world is a better place for it.

OhThisbloodypc 4:24 pm, 28-Jan-2013

Steven Hawking does a brilliant American accent

gimmicks 9:38 am, 29-Jan-2013

Ray Winston in the departed. Lost all respect.

Darren Grady 10:25 pm, 30-Jan-2013

Any film where Pierce Brosnan puts on an American accent make my toes fold over.

Belinda 1:10 am, 6-Feb-2013

Pretty much anyone NOT South African doing SA, but Nicole Kidman takes the cake!!!! She was soooo soooo bad!!!!

Sedge 4:04 pm, 6-Feb-2013

Ray Winston in the Departed is embarrassing. How did Scorsese not simply snigger and say "ok....lets do that again you fat prick or I'll get Devito to do it". Can't see what's wrong with Euan McGregor's apart from he isn't Alec Guiness. That's not his fault, neither is anyone else....

Jayfess 2:16 pm, 25-Feb-2013

Tommy Lee Jones takes the biscuit with his dreadful oirish accent in Blown Away.

Slipp DIgby 2:38 pm, 25-Feb-2013

Can't believe Idris Elba's awful accent in Prometheus didn't get a mention. Its reeedin liiiiiife farm.

Des 10:03 pm, 30-Apr-2013

To be fair, Ewan McGregor isn't really to blame for the accent in Star Wars. He was instructed to imitate Sir Alec Guinness' accent and mannerisms and they even had pictures of Guinness for comparison when doing McGregor's make-up and wardrobe. McGregor even brought this up in an interview, saying that they had spent so long trying to make him look and sound like Guinness that they forgot to give him any decent lines.

Billy 10:42 pm, 21-May-2013

The bloke playing Pete in Green Street

Maria 11:31 pm, 28-Jun-2013

I am Cuban and Al Pacino as Tony Montana in Scarface is at the top of my list. That has to be the worst ever.

Michael 2:57 am, 2-Jul-2013

And a special shout for Meryl Streep in A Cry in the Dark.... 'a deengo stole moi baayybee'. Not her finest hour.

Me 12:56 pm, 2-Jul-2013

Don Cheadle in the Ocean's films, waht is that about?

Doesn't matter 9:03 pm, 2-Jul-2013

Being fair to Pitt he was doing Pikey rather than Irish in Snatch and as such it really wasn't that bad if you've ever had dealings, generally unwanted, with a Pikey.

Twink 12:35 pm, 4-Jul-2013

Val Kilmer in The Saint. So many bad accents to choose from!

two bob 1:52 pm, 4-Jul-2013

Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela in 'Invictus' was pretty dire, he lost the accent so often , though my wife, who was born in SA thought Matt Damon actually did a good job. An honourable mention must go to John Malkovich's accent in 'Rounders' "Ok meester sawn off a beeetch, lit's ply some caaaaaaards"

Mara Lee 8:12 pm, 7-Aug-2013

Anything Kidaman tries. She is over the top awful.

Kila 6:20 pm, 26-Sep-2013

Ummm ANYTHING Jason Statham does where he doesn't play an english person is absolutely LAUGHABLE. He literally doesn't even tryyy, if he can say in some form of an "american" accent - whether that be southern, northern or some unheard of region - GREAT! if not sod it he'll do what he likes. No one bloody says anything!!!

Kerry 2:43 pm, 20-Oct-2013

Mustn't forget Kevin Costner in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. That was the worst!

max 4:09 pm, 20-Oct-2013

Again Sean Connery as Arab King, cant remember the film, but every film he does he's native Scottish

Tim Sheridan 5:54 pm, 20-Oct-2013

Come, you can't tell me no one has mentioned Sir Dickie Attenborough's amazing dancing accent in Jurassic Park!? :)

Tim Sheridan 5:57 pm, 20-Oct-2013

Awight Mary Porpins Lisa is right though , Don Cheadle in that Ocean's 11 is easily the most hideous on celluloid.

Dave HK 3:53 am, 21-Oct-2013

errr.. Neutraboi you do know Colin Farrell is Irish and comes from Dublin?. Mine are Dick Van Dyke with the worst Cockney accent ever and Russell Crowe's Robin Hood.

chris 8:01 am, 2-Nov-2013

Charlie hunnam or whatever his name is trying to do a cockney accent in green st is without doubt the worst I've heard. Pasty kensit in keathal weapon 2 is pretty awful. Even a few mcnulty scenes in the wire showed up his englishness...

Alex L. 6:27 am, 26-Nov-2013

So i MUST have missed it, but theres absolutrly NO way that no one mentioned Nicholas Cage in "Con Air".....i wouldnt thunk anyone could truely mess up a southern American accent but good lord that was just ridiculous.....AHA IM GOIN HOME SON!!!

Aaron Davies 2:26 am, 26-Feb-2014

It's lucky I'm one of only seventeen people in the UK who actually went to see 'Mary Reilly', otherwise the name of Julia Roberts would surely have appeared by now.

Ajax 2:41 pm, 16-Jun-2014

DeCaprio in Blood Diamond should have been #1 or at least equal with Mickey Rooney.

Ray 6:43 am, 13-Jul-2014

Connery as The Mufti in The Wind and the Lion. An Arab with a Scottish accent. They even tried to explain it by saying he picked it up from his days at Sandhurst in England, where he had a Scottish roommate.

Beans 9:12 pm, 26-Jul-2014

Hollywood has given us some fairly Gash Iattempts at rish accents , but as bad as they are they can't match Irishman Liam Neesons attempt at an English accent in "the Dead Pool" it is truly memorable

matmanlives 10:50 am, 25-Oct-2014

What about; Jason statham - everything he's ever been in. Including Kelly Brook. I detest the man and his terrible terrible films with terrible terrible accents. O, and That guy in green Street (bees and anny) although he's pretty much unknown. Which is how I imagine it will stay. Special mention to Danny "facking" Dyer, who's double hard mockney accent is the only thing dragging his career out of the gutter.

Alfie 4:03 am, 28-Oct-2014

Matmanlives, Jason Statham is a crap actor anyway, but his attempt at an American accent is bleeding diabolical. In Cellular, "That's what I've been trying to tell Yewww" And I hate that Cannnnnnt Danny Dyer as well. Terrible actors. Most American actors can't do Brit accents either though. I did like James Cromwell as Prince Philip in "The Queen" accent and voice well done

Jamie Lee 10:04 pm, 5-Nov-2014

Cage in "Con Air" was truly awful. My biggest gripe is any accent Kidman attempts. She thinks acting is a gaping mouth, but when she speaks it sounds like a kitten being strangled.

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