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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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. 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.
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?)