Dick Van Dyke's legacy: worst accents in movies

Sorry Rounders to complete things.

I think he’s a very talented, versatile actor, but one thing Ewan McGregor cannot do is a convincing American accent. He’s not really bad at it, certainly nowhere near as bad as others mentioned in this thread, but it’s always obvious to me that the accent is a put-on. And in Velvet Goldmine at least his fake American accent wasn’t even from the same class/region as his character.

Thinking of inappropriate American accents and actors who were in Velvet Goldmine, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers didn’t do too well in the remake of The Magnificent Ambersons. He did seem to be the only one in the cast who was even attempting a regional accent, but he also appeared to be laboring under the mistaken idea that the Amberson’s mansion was in roughly the same neighborhood as Tara.

But even when foreign actors can’t manage a good American accent, they’re usually at least consistent. The same cannot be said for everyone in Hollywood. It’s been about a decade since I saw Interview with the Vampire, but I don’t think I’ll ever forget the unsettling way Brad Pitt’s accent wandered around the map. He couldn’t seem to decide whether his character should have a Southern accent or a French one, and didn’t do a very good job of mimicing either one. He’d also regularly lapse back into Hollywood-standard West Coast.

And now that we’re on the subject of vampire movies, the commercials for Van Helsing are enough to tell me that Kate Beckinsale deserves mention for her awful attempt at a Romanian accent. It’s only knowing that the movie is (of course) set in Transylvania that tells me that it’s even meant to be Romanian. It sounds more like an unfortunate speech impediment…possibly brought on by a severe head injury.

There’s a Monty Python skit with Michael Palin playing an American general. This is supposed to communicated more by the uniform and the accent (there’s no sign over his head reading, “American genreral”.

It took about a minute before I realized that he was supposed to be Amercian. His American is about as convincing as my Scottish.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s English accents - she can do more than one - are awesome.

I’m interested to hear that Meryl Streep gets the thumbs down from the aussies. I find she’s usually very good.

I wish that filmmakers realised that a bad accent can actually spike an otherwise brilliant movie for some people; then again, I doubt they care, since the majority probably don’t.

Is that what it was? French Canadian? Really? I thought she was from Romania or something.


I am a real stickler for accents. I hate it when actors don’t make the effort to get it right - they get paid multiple millions to sit around and be fawned over all their life, and they can’t even be arsed to put the effort in to do their frickin’ job? Sean Connery, I’m looking at you!! You who have played everything from Irish to American to Russian to English to Ancient Greek, and you don’t even try to pretend you’re anything but a Scotsman with a speech impediment. Gah!!

It’s not in a movie, but on an audiobook recording - the worst “American” accent I’ve ever heard was by Leo McKern. Much as I love his work in general, I have to complain about this. When doing an American or a Canadian, he simply slows down and sounds ponderous.

Having grown up in New Jersey, I know what people who live there sound like. Almost no one gets a Jersey accent right. Too many people have it confused with a Brooklyn accent, for some reason. The Sopranos gets Jersey right.

For Sci-Fi fans, there’s the (in)famous case of Patrick Steward, who played the allegedly French captain Jean-Luc Picard :slight_smile:

In the X-Men movie, that girl who played Rouge wins the Kevin Costner Tribute Award mentioned before. She started out with a Southern accent (Rouge is supposed to be from the Deep South) but by the end of the movie her accent had disappeared.

I thought she did OK in The Terminal.

Whoa, you’re saying that Robin Williams was trying to do a Boston accent in that movie? I totally missed that.

I disagree. I thought he did a pretty fantastic job in Big Fish.

The Pythons were particularly bad at American accents, with their point of origin racing randomly around the map at heartstopping speeds (although Eric Idle did a great Angeleno in the Rutles movie).

Michael Caine has made some pretty dire attempts at American accents (at least I think that’s what he was trying).

Kenneth Branagh sometimes seems to get away with it, but not always and often only for brief spells.

I wasn’t aware that Kevin Costner was even attempting an English accent in RHPoT. Seriously.

I did not see the movie but I’ve seen clips of Cold Mountain and from the clips I saw, Nicole Kidman just sounds like an Aussie doing a bad Southern Accent.

I think it’s rather unfair to include Dick Van Dyke in this sort of bashing.

Does anybody really think he was even trying to give an authentic accent?

I would say that he was doing a spoof on the accents or in other words he was trying to be funny.

Plus, there was as high a standard for accuracy for accent work as there is today. This is mainly caused by Meryl Streep I think.

Haven’t seen that one yet; maybe he’s gotten better.

I’m no fan of Streep’s but she had Lindy’s accent of the time perfectly. It was then an uncomfortable mix of Australian and NZ. She sounds Australian these days.

Hmm, I really do. Note that when he was subsequently cast in another movie based in England, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, he retained his American accent.

I should toss in that one of the worst accents on film is Nick Nolte’s Italian in “Lorenzo’s Oil”.

Her accent sounded more like Parisian French than Quebec French to this Quebecois’ ears.

Nonsense. I think Cosner did a fantastic Bulgarian accent in this film.

I’m sorry, what did you say?

It was English???

Sweet Mother MacCree…