Good acting is all about making the audience believe in your character. While this can usually be achieved through some deeper understanding of the role they’ve been cast to play, there’s one facet to acting that many actors believe themselves to be better at than they really are: accents.
A good accent is a thing of beauty, and lends an auditory authenticity to a role, but a bad one? Well, they’re just laughable.
We can only guess at the reasons behind these awful accent attempts, even as we laugh at the results.
7. Charlie Hunnam – Green Street (2005)
Despite being from Newcastle, Hunnam has one of the strangest natural accents going, and it never quite fits anywhere. But his attempt at sounding like a cockney football hooligan in Green Street was just plain unpleasant.
Considering he was born and raised in the UK, his inability to even approximate a cockney accent is more than a little disappointing, and the results are not easy to watch (or hear).
6. Keanu Reeves – Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
Reeves has two accents that he’s capable of convincingly pulling off: surfer dude and gravelly enigma. Most of his roles make use of one of the two in some form or another, but for his role in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, he – for reasons unknown to us – attempted to transform his voice into that of a Victorian English gentleman.
It’s no exaggeration to say that his accent in this movie could well be considered an act of international hostility (although it was more likely down to a very, very bad voice coach).
Reeves also deserves bonus points for an AWFUL French Canadian accent in 1986 Hockey movie Youngblood, which is one of the most misguided accents ever committed to film. Luckily, it was a very small role.
5. Gerard Butler – P.S. I Love You (2007)
Despite his well-known Scottish roots, actor Gerard Butler made an attempt at an Irish accent for his role in this 2007 romantic drama.
The result was a mostly Butler’s natural Scottish accent with notes of an Irish brogue thrown in seemingly at random. It’s a weird and uneven mixture of two very distinct accents, and it was pretty jarring.
It doesn’t help that many of his character’s lines are delivered in voiceovers, which means that there’s very little to distract from the unholy mingling of accents.
4. Don Cheadle – Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
Cringeworthy in both its writing and execution, Cheadle’s “cockney” accent is the quintessential American “I can do a British accent” accent. With plenty of shoehorned rhyming slang thrown in – a lazy, transparent and rarely successful way of feigning authenticity – Cheadle’s accent was painfully bad.
The actor himself has since expressed his embarassment at just how bad the accent was, even going as far as to issue an apology, so let’s not be too hard on him.
3. Nicolas Cage – Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (2001)
We’ve come to expect nothing less from Cage, but his Italian accent in this 2001 war drama is cartoonish and borderline offensive.
Complete with hilariously over-the-top inflection, this accent is practically incomprehensible, and its even more noticeable next to the fairly believable accents of co-stars Penelope Cruz and John Hurt.
Still, to Cage’s credit, he was set up to fail by the decision to have the actors playing Italians still speak in English. Subtitles would have been preferable to Cage’s caricature of an accent.
2. Ray Winstone – The Departed (2006)
Sticking out like a sore thumb in the Scorcese classic, Winstone’s Mr. French has one of the weirdest non-accents ever committed to film.
It’s truly impossible to fully describe in words how Winstone sounds, because it’s unlike any natural accent on Earth.
His lines are delivered in the manner of someone who recently took a heavy blow to the head and has forgotten where he’s from, as he changes accents mid-sentence as though he’s trying on as many hats.
1. Michael Caine – On Deadly Ground (1994)
The cockney legend tries to pull off an American accent in this 1994 action flick. He fails spectacularly.
It’s bad, sure, but why was it ever necessary? It’s now almost universally accepted that Caine comes with his iconic accent, and his role in On Deadly Ground proves exactly why he should stick with it.
This may not be surprising, but there’s still a wealth of truly terrible movie accents out there. Make sure to follow Corner of Film, and you’ll be the first to know when we compile a few more into another list!