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Actors "faking" accents for movies: the good, bad and ugly

JessieS

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  • Added on: January 30th, 2007
I haven't seen "Blood Diamond" yet, but apparently some people think Leonardo DiCaprio's South African accent is pretty good. Having only seen the previews, I can't judge... But I can critique the "fake" accents I've heard in movies over the years, and so can you!

The worst one I can think of offhand was Kevin Costner in "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" - the accent kept changing, coming and going. Ugh. Very distracting.

Gwyneth Paltrow does a superb British accent, as evidenced in "Emma" and "Sliding Doors" - and that was before she became an expat. Smile

Hugh Laurie is amazing on "House" - I swear, the first time I heard him speak with his real accent, I almost fell over. All this time I'd assumed he was American.

Honestly, sometimes I wish people would just be allowed to use their own voices and let us as the audience use our imagination. And why is it that when a movie is supposed to take place in a non-English speaking place the actors are often doing British accents? Does that make it sound more foreign or something?

Anyway, what are the accents you've heard and loved or hated?
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Callilucy

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  • Added on: January 30th, 2007
Let me say this right off, I am by no stretch of the imagination an expert on South African accents. However, I thought Leo's accent was pretty damn good in some spots but seemed to falter a bit in others. I found that even more distracting than if had been crappy all the way through.

I agree on Hugh Laurie, I had about the same reaction as you did upon hearing an interview with him. It boggles the mind, at least a simple one like mine.
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  • Added on: January 30th, 2007
I recently read a snarky aside in some Brit rag about the fake Kiwi accent that Anthony Hopkins affected in The World's Fastest Indian. It easily fooled me, though I am easily foolable. (Especially by BNA women)

I was very impressed with Gary Oldman's accent in The Contender (which is also a great movie).

And I was completely gob smacked by Bob Hopkins' American accent in Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

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  • Added on: January 30th, 2007
Okay, why does Natalie Portman (Queen Amidala) in The Phantom Menace start off withh a British accent, then switch over to an American one when she's Padme?

Or is she just following Carrie Fisher's lead? Princess Leia has a British accent in her first scene in Star Wars but switches over to American for the rest of the trilogy. What gives?
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  • Added on: January 30th, 2007
That wasn't the worst one in star wars try listening to the different Storm Trooper Commanders. They can't keep the same accent from line to line much less sceene to sceene.
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  • Added on: January 30th, 2007
In Star Wars there is official-speak, and then private casual-speak. That's Amidala's excuse, but Leiah's was just accidental. And it's not really british, it's just kind of formal and uppity sounding. It's a stiff star wars-the-director-has-me-acting-like-cardboard-speak. Mark Hamil should have been the director for acting, he would have set them straight.

On the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Facotry, Mike TeeVee starts out a bratty American kid from Arizona. By the time he's in the TV at the end, when he's shrunk, he sounds bizarre: "Am I coming in clear?" was the ironic memorable line. He said he was messed up by hanging out with the other Brit actors. The commentary on that DVD is really interesting.


I don't like snobby accent experts, but sometimes it's an interesting topic.

Jeremy Irons has the worst phoniest British accent I have ever heard.
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  • Added on: January 31st, 2007
I've met Jeremy Irons and it's exactly the way he speaks. Sorry, jedi, it's not a 'phony' British accent.

KateL57

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  • Added on: January 31st, 2007
I got addicted to Six Feet Under some time ago (luckily not anymore!) and while researching what was going on (okay, cheating and finding out about future episodes because I was behind...) I learned this: Brenda. This actress is Australian. I never would have guessed.

Also: Guy Someone in Memento. I think he's British? Doesn't sound like it.

I don't think too hard about accents or feel particularly adept at picking out real or fake, but it is kind of a funny thing. I liked how in the Sound of Music, the Austrian Von Trapp family spoke with semi-British accents.
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JessieS

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  • Added on: January 31st, 2007
Guy whatshisname from "Memento" is an Aussie, I think. He was in "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" if I remember right. And "LA Confidential." And yes, he does a good job of hiding his real accent.

Here's another - Toni Collette. Is she an Aussie or a Brit? In "Muriel's Wedding" I swore up and down she was an Aussie, and then later I heard her speaking with what I thought was a rather proper English accent. And she's good with the American accent, too (see "The Sixth Sense" and "Little Miss Sunshine").
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static

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  • Added on: January 31st, 2007
quote:
Is she an Aussie or a Brit?
She's an Aussie.

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  • Added on: January 31st, 2007
quote:
Jeremy Irons has the worst phoniest British accent I have ever heard.


uh yeah I was kidding Smile
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rawjer

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  • Added on: February 1st, 2007
A couple that seem unconvincing to me:

Harry Shearer's British in This Is Spinal Tap - The other two leads seem to stick theirs well enough, but Harry is all over the map.

Michael Caine doing American in anything - I guess he's a great actor, but he's never sounded at all American to me.

A few I'm amazed by:

Portia DeRossi - Is an Aussie and evidently lived there until her early 20s, but I've never (even in interviews) heard her sound anything but American.

Kate Beckinsale - I saw her in Last Days of Disco and then Brokedown Palace and only later did I discover she's a Brit. A lot of her peers are completely convincing as well, but she shocked me.

German model/actress Diane Kruger and Dutch model/actress Famke Janssen both trained extensively and sound completely American any time they speak English. Janssen has lived in NYC for a long time, but Kruger is even more amazing since she's never really lived in the States.

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  • Added on: February 1st, 2007
Hugh Jackman does a lousy Canadian accent in the "Xmen" movies. But he was better than the cartoons, in which Wolverine was a Canadian with an Aussie accent.

Not one ferret in the movies has ever sounded like a ferret. They always give them the sound of a badger or a chipmunk. Bad animal accents.
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chrissy2k5

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  • Added on: February 1st, 2007
Ode to Hugh Laurie:

I had been watching House for a little while. One day I was at a cheesy corporate training at work, and the instructor popped in a VHS on world-class customer service, featuring the Dazzling Mr Laurie as a hotel manager. He was hilarious, especially with that fake British accent.

Later someone told me it's the American accent that's fake- I was shocked! Turns out Hugh Laurie spent the greater part of his career doing British comedy sketches (check them out, they are knee-slappin' awesome). He is amazing, and, if i say so myself, smokin' hot for a near-50-year-old.
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goodlookinrebel

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  • Added on: February 1st, 2007
I find people like George Plimpton and William F. Buckley jr to be very fascinating. They have an almost extinct American northeast aristocratic accent. Its not British, its not modern American...is it puritan?

I love it when any of the Monty Python guys attempt an American accent, it makes for some truly amazing comedy.

Why is it that British people tend to be less inclined to try out other accents. Not just actors but British folks in general rarely bust out a fake accent,(except for this Londonite i met in NYC who could do an amazing Latin tv salesman accent) while I find that to be somewhat common of Americans.

And why is it that almost any movie based on a Biblical story has all of its characters speaking in British accents? There is just something about Peter using a cockney accent that just doesnt seem right...I suppose it fits his personality though.


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