Worst movie accents

This thread got me thinking about the worst attempts at foreign accents in film; I’m sure it’s been covered in a thread somewhere along the way, but if so, too bad…here it is again.

The two scene-derailing performances that came to mind were:

Harvey Keitel in Thelma and Louise. He’s supposed to be from Arkansas, but he sounds like he’s from…well, I’m not sure where.

Jon Malkovich in Rounders. I’m not sure if he’s imitating Boris or he’s imitating Natasha, but I’m pretty sure I know where he learned his accent.

Yup … there are few actors who learn how to do a Southern accent correctly. (Never mind regional variations, ANY vaguely Southern accent.) They often will do the bad stereotype of a Southern accent which has no basis in reality. In the early '90s I read an article in either Premiere or Movieline about “the” speech coach in Hollywood who was the go-to guy to teach actors how to do a Southern accent. The point of the article was that he was an idiot and got it all wrong. The funniest thing was that he had coached Julia Roberts for Steel Magnolias. You know, the actress who was born & raised in the metro Atlanta area and has a perfectly decent soft Georgia accent all on her own? The one who sounds like a parody of a Southerner in Steel Magnolias? Yeah. hah.

Other examples: Meryl Streep – Ms. Fabulous Accent – in The Seduction of Joe Tynan.
Kyra Sedgewick in The Closer – she gets some of it right, but I’m from Atlanta and I never heard anyone talk like that.

I remember seeing Broadcast News when it came out and being bowled over by Holly Hunter’s first scene … to hear a REAL Southern accent in a movie was so unusual I gasped with delight.

Gerard Butler in PS, I Love You had the worst Irish accent I’ve ever heard. He’s Scottish too, it shouldn’t be all that hard for him. Christ is it awful!

I assume we all agree that Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins is just a given and are looking other than that?

Anyway, one of the Australians who plays a IASA scientist in Farscape does a horrible American accent. This was back when John Crichton and the crew actually return to Earth and visit IASA and so forth. The lead scientist guy is horrible.

I remember thinking that Anna Paquin’s accent in Fly Away Home was absolutely bizarre, just as it was in X-Men.
She seems better in True Blood, though.

Yeah, heard him on NPR at about the same time. He’d never been out of New York; he got all his accents from movies. What you call yer vicious cycle. There’s a southern accent that exists only in movies, but it’s so well established in that context that people have come to expect it. He’s the guy you go to for *that *accent, not for the real thing.

Rosanna Arquette in The Whole Nine Yards. Worst. Québecois. Accent. Ever !

Personaly, I thought Sean Connery did a heckuva Russian accent in Red October… It was as good as his Spanish accent in Highlander.

Probably one of the worst ever was Mickey Rooney’s Japanese accent in “Breakfast At Tiffany’s.” Up there (down there?) with Dick Van Dyke. Something about the sixties, maybe?

Kevin Costner was pretty horrible in “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves,” and Russell Crowe’s Noo Yawk accent in “American Gangster” was pretty cringe-worthy, too.

I’m assuming the horrible Brit accents in “Spinal Tap” and the mangled American accents in Monty Python were just for comic effect, and won’t diss them for that.

I try not to let it distract me. You have to cooperate with the filmmakers on a certain level to enjoy the film. For example, of course interstellar travel takes forever and and we would all be dead if we didn’t have faster than light travel before we ever reached our destination, but if they need to pop in and out of hyperspace and whatnot to advance the story, then fine, I can go along with the fiction.

In the case of accents, I want them to find the best actor for the job, and sometimes that actor just happens not to be from that area, like Mel Gibson (Aussie) in Lethal Weapon (California.) Bad actors can screw up a scene far worse than merely by having a bad accent, while great actors can rise above accent to still present a great story, e.g. Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Higgins from Magnum PI originally from Texas, etc.

Case in point: Malfoy in the Harry Potter series. Born in England, “authentic” accent, horrible actor.

He is the master of accents. He can do a Scottish accent, American-Scottish, Russian-Scottish, Irish-Scottish, Spanish-Scottish…

So they have a Scottish character and a Spanish character, so they hire a Frenchman to play the former and a Scot to play the latter.
Mel Gibson is a special case. He spent the first 12 years of his life in the US and his accent isn’t as strongly biased in either direction as it could be.

Gene Hackman in “A Bridge too Far”, it’s actually painful to hear his Polish accent.

Common, the “Kee-Rice-Toss” he mutters when Boy Browning tells them of the landing zone is my favourite of the movie.

Well, the Spanish accent of almost all US-born hispanic actors has the same two characteristics:
a) Painfully unnatural
b) Always wrong (apparently most directors can’t fathom that LatinAmerican Spanish has a variety of accents

Julia Roberts’ Irish accent in Mary Reilly.

John Wayne as Genghis Khan in The Conqueror.

Actually he was born in the US and has lived most of his life there.

He spent part of his childhood in Australia and for some reason people think he is Australian.

Mel Gibson’s accent in Braveheart was dire.

Josh Hartnett attempted a Yorkshire accent in Blow Dry; it did not go well (neither did the rest of the film).

Probably because Australia tries to claim anyone that becomes famous who has the remotest link to Australia. Some sort of insane little man syndrome or something. I’m Australian so I can tell it like it is. :smiley: I’m sure if you ask any New Zealander about it they will agree there is a few New Zealander’s, that Australia has tried claimed as our own :rolleyes:. (including Sam Neill, The Finn brothers, and Russell Crowe amongst others)

For my on topic piece - basically anyone not Australian, trying to do an Australian accent Plus any Australian appearing in a made for the US movie who for some insane reason amplifies their accent into pure parody. [Presumably becasue their actual speaking voice is not ‘Australian-enough’ for the director.]

The most obvious case I can think of off the top of my head is Mission Impossible 2(?) I think it was the second one. Truely atrocious.

I second the nomination. That’s the one I came in to mention.

The only one to ever be bad enough to really distract me and take me out of the character (besides every southern accent in a movie ever, which has already been discussed) is Sayeed in Lost. It’s as if every word is a $2 steak and he has to chew on it for a few minutes.

(And speaking of bad southern accents, has anyone ever noticed that non-southerners trying to do the accent just as often as not end up sounding Cajun?)