This thread got me thinking, the first time I saw Christian Bale speak in his natural voice I was shocked he had an english accent since I’d only seen him speak in an American accent in film. Hugh Laurie’s natural voice sounded different than I would’ve expected too.
Also apparently Arnold Schwarzenegger is from eastern europe.
Joel Kinnaman. I watched “The Killing” series and then saw an interview with him and was like WHAT? He fakes an American accent very well and apparently his dad is American and his household was bilingual, but he grew up in Sweden and his regular accent when speaking English definitely sounds like it’s his second language. I’ve seen plenty of actors from another English-speaking country fake an American accent perfectly (Hugh Laurie, Alex O’Loughlin) but never one where the other language was not English. I mean, Arnold Schwarzenegger sounds like a German guy speaking English. Kinnaman sounds completely American, until he turns it off and sounds like a foreign tourist.
Austria, specifically (which I don’t personally consider to be “eastern Europe”, but YMMV). I don’t think that Arnold really tries to hide (nor ramp up) his Austrian accent, though I do think it’s considerably less pronounced than it was back when he first became a star in the 1980s.
And, my nomination: David Tennant. I’m too used to hearing him doing some flavor of English accent on Doctor Who, whereas his natural accent is clearly very Scottish.
I’ve seen a few. Israeli actress-singer Alona Tal seems able to turn her accent on and off at will - I remember watching her as Jo Harvelle on Supernatural and having no idea she wasn’t American, and I generally have an excellent ear for my compatriots.
And an honourable mention for fellow Doctor Who/Broadchurch alumnus Jodie Whittaker as well.
For some reason the contrast between Scottish and northern versus southern English accents is more dramatic and surprising to me than between the American put-on accents and the normal speaking voices of Brit and Australian actors.
I remember the first time I heard Bob Hoskins’ natural speaking voice. This would have been shortly after I saw him in Who Framed Roger Rabbit and I was used to hearing his New Yorkish accent from that film. Then he showed up on Johnny Carson’s show with his thick as Suffolk mud accent and I wonder who is this guy?
I’ve heard/read that a lot about Christian Bale recently but I guess I assumed that his critically lauded breakthrough role in that Spielberg movie, or maybe that Treasure Island film with Charlton Heston, or Henry V, or maybe even Swing Kids (all non-American roles) were not that obscure. Or maybe in my late 30s I’m finding myself really old because I’m old enough to remember Bale pre-Batman (which I’ve never seen). Don’t tell me people don’t at least know American Psycho (American obviously, yeah) or The Machinist or something.
Both Damian Lewis and Dominic West sound much cooler using American accents. They don’t have cool British accents like Jason Statham. Instead, they sound like a couple of upper-class weenies in their native tongue. It came as no big surprise that they both attended Eton.
Gillian Anderson, who was born in the U.S., but spent a good portion of her childhood living in England, sometimes appears in interviews speaking with an English accent – the first time I heard her with it, I was very surprised. As far as I can tell, she moves back and forth between American and English accents, and I have no idea which is her “natural” accent.
Lucy Lawless is New Zealand born and bred, but I’d have never guessed it from her performance in Xena.
Also, is it just me or do the voices of a lot of the Commonwealth actors (Britain, Australia, New Zealand) get deeper when they’re putting on an American accent? Maybe it’s because they’re taking more care with enunciation because it’s not natural to them?
Stephen Moyer (who was Bill on True Blood) is English and has quite the accent. His wife Anna Paquin, from New Zealand, who played Suki on True Blood, sounds as American as anything. The guy who played her brother was Australian but not sure if he has an accent.
Charlize Theron says she speaks consciously using an American accent in her every day speech, though she is supposed to have an Afrikaans accent.
I’ve heard Lauren Cohan (who was Maggie on The Walking Dead) speak with her natural British accent, too.