Earlier on this evening, I did a run down of the Best British Accents by Non Brits. Of course, we heavily featured some of the greatest accent changing hijinks from Robert Downey Jr to Nicole Kidman. And boy, there were some greats.
This all being well and good, unfortunately, not everyone does the same good job; delving into a bunch of horrible clichés with plumb bushes coming out of their mouths. So here is another list of the Worst British Accents, only this time its all “allo gavner” and all that malarkey!
I feel like I am cheating on this one because Hunnam is actually British. Hailing from Newcastle, you’d think that being English born and bred would give him an edge over anyone else. Unfortunately, though Hunnam can play a brilliant American in Sons Of Anarchy, he absolutely cannot do a cockney accent. This would be no big deal except the action drama Green Street is supposed to be a serious movie. The whole affair is completely derailed by Hunnam’s worst and cringe inducing Danny Dyer impression.
So let’s move on from home grown terrible accents and look at those from abroad who try and fail to imitate us. And still on the subject of cockney, here is one such jarring movie. Playing against the impressive Johnny Depp, we could give slack to Graham. But we’re not going to. In fact, if anything she should have learnt a lesson. As Mary Kelly, an East End prostitute caught in Jack the Rippers murderous rampage, Graham fails. Unfortunately, this jarring and awful cockney accent doesn’t convince you that she is from the time or place. And certainly takes away the whole “my friends were murdered and I’m next” vibe. From Hell is maddening because Graham is surrounded by fine British actresses. What was one more in that mix?
If we’ve seen one Robin Hood movie or television show, we’ve seen them all. The story of the Prince of Thieves has a parody, a cartoon, a musical and much much more. But more recently, Robin Hood has had another big blockbuster re-telling with Russell Crowe in the helm. Not that Kevin Costner, the most famous Hood, really did an amazing job. But when Crowe attempted his best Nottinghamshire accent it turned into an amalgamation of his Gladiator performance, Irish and Brummie. It is all a little bit strained, a little bit unnerving and a little bit bad. Much like the movie itself.
Oh Anne Hathaway. Oscar Winning Anne Hathaway. You are excellent. You are wonderful. You can play a down and out woman on the verge of death and despair with a great musical flare. You can be geeky. You can do sexy. And you can be quirky. What you cannot do, however, is Yorkshire accent. When Hathaway landed the role of Emma in One Day, you’d think everyone’s favourite girl would succeed. But unfortunately, she doesn’t. Never quite getting the hang of a Northerner, Hathaway's accent dwindles from twangs of Leeds, to posh with a smackering of American. The up and down rollercoaster accent from Hathaway is not only off putting, it is incredibly hilarious. In fact, it’s the only thing appealing about One Day. It’s a great game; how many accents can she do in five minutes?
There is just something about the cockney accent that people just can’t get right. I mean, if people aren’t imitating Britain with a plumy and posh accent, then they are just trying to get down with the Eastenders. Here is another attempt that doesn’t just go awry but goes crashing down in flames. Don Cheadle plays a hired cockney gangster in the otherwise swimmingly done movie. Cheadle here is downright awful, full of the heavy handed clichés and rich in stereotypes. A completely unnecessary move to make his character British resulted in one of the most panned accents of all time. It also gets progressively worse over the series. Oh and Cheadle fired his agent over it because she said it was good. Yikes.
Here it is; here is the Granddaddy of bad accents. No bad accent list would be complete without the wonderful awful Dick Van Dyke. I was also a bit sceptical of putting this on a list because growing up I didn’t notice; he was just a musical genius who looked a bit like my Dad. But taking my rose tinted glasses off then there is no doubt that Dyke has perhaps one of the most tenuous and terrible British accents ever. And it is throughout. Burt is the main male lead who tells the story of Mary Poppins. So we are treated to endless lines such as “Awight Maaaaaarrryy Popins!” and other such nonsense. It’s a damn shame because Dick Van Dyke is incredible at the dances, the singing and was a childhood legend. It’s just a matter of pushing past it all because while the accent is bad, the movie is still fantastic.
It takes a spectacularly bad accent to topple Dick Van Dyke off the top spot. And although the temptation to pop Dyke at the number one position, I can’t help but have to place Reeves there. In one of the greatest adaptations of all time with sterling performances by Gary Oldman and Anthony Hopkins, there is a shocking slice of bad accent acting. Keanu Reeves as Jonathon Harker captains a one man crusade against the English. Hamming it up so badly alongside wrongly accused Winona Ryder, Reeves delivers an excruciatingly bad performance as wooden as the stakes plunged into vampire’s heart.
It is just pure evil.
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