Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Brits Doing American Accents, And Failing.

Being the arrogant bunch of twits we are, us British tend to slaughter anyone else attempting our accent. Poor old Dick Van Dyke is still held as the high watermark for Grievous Bodily Harm on our accent when he set it on fire, put it out with a jet of his own special water and then spread rumours about its mother's promiscuity as Bert the Chimney Sweep in Mary Poppins.
Kevin Costner's go at speaking Blighty in Robin Hood was awful and even the actress who played Daphne in Fraser just sounded weird and she's English while David Boreanaz's stab at Irish in Angel sucked more than his vampire character ever could.
To balance things up, the Radio Times have got stuck into Brits attempting American accents and failing dismally with Michelle Ryan winning the honour for her portrayal of the Bionic Women, which has now been cancelled.
Other bad yank accents included Eddie Izzard in The Richies, Annie Friel in Pushing Daisies and Hugh Laurie in House.
Even to my English ears Michelle Ryan's American accent was rubbish but i was impressed by Hugh Laurie in House especially when his normal accent is so quintessentially English.
I haven't seen Izzard or Friel so can't comment on what they do to the American accent but Michelle, you will now always be known as the Dick Van Dyke of American accents which is actually better than being remembered for being Zoe Slater in Eastenders.
Come to think of it your cockney accent wasn't that hot then either.


Cody Bones said...

Lucy, I think you should post an audio file of yourself, saying "The rain in Spain falls mainly in the plain." first in your normal accent, and a second time doing your best "American" accent. I understand that the public is clamoring for this. If this works out, and your readers post audio of themselves, who knows, maybe we could get Daniel to sing "God Bless America"

Representative Kimble said...

I first saw Hugh Laurie in Masterpiece Theatre's Jeeves and Wooster. I then sort of lost touch with his career though not Steven Frye's. I watched 2 years of House and then had a sudden epiphany--Wait that's Bertie Wooster. I think Hugh Laurie is fairly convincing. I like the Riches, but Izzard's is a bit of an odd accent. Then again what do I know, I spent a summer studying at Oxford and came home with a Southern American accent thanks to a flatmate from Georgia.

Cheezy said...

My personal favourite slaughtering of a very plummy English accent (well, it was a plummy attempt anyway) was Keanu Reeves in 'Much Ado About Nothing'.

Keanu and Shakey - together at last!

Falling on a bruise said...

I am terrible at accents Cody which makes me even more of a hypocrite for slandering the Brits mauling your accents.
I was not much of a fan of Fry & Laurie to start with nate, there just seemed funnier comedians about at that time but Black Adder was when i finally recognised them as a very funny people.

Aaron said...

I've always found it interesting that actors with British accents are typically very successful at assuming another accent while American actors are so bad at it.

Anonymous said...

I love Hugh Laurie.

My second favorite Brit playing an American is Marianne Jean-Baptiste. She plays Vivian on "Without a Trace". She's got the challenge of also picking up the African-American dialect, which she does well with. Sometimes she slips, but I've only noticed that since I've known she's English.

Did Kevin Costner really attempt an accent in Robin Hood? I thought for sure he did like two lines and then said "To hell with it. Who said the American accent originated in America?" Who's that blond chick that can't do them either? Gah! I'll remember later. I want to Gwen Paltrow, but I'm probably wrong. Anyway, whoever she is hurts my ears everytime I hear her.

Cheezy said...

"Did Kevin Costner really attempt an accent in Robin Hood? I thought for sure he did like two lines and then said "To hell with it. Who said the American accent originated in America?"

Ha! To be fair though, I think Michael Caine started doing an (awful) American accent in a movie once (the execrable Steven Seagal actioner 'On Deadly Ground') but then he forgot all about it and went back to his usual Sarf-East Landin "You were only supposed to blow the bladdy doors off"!" patois.

To my ears, I'd say Thandie Newton's American accent sounds pretty good, although I guess I could be wrong...

Cody Bones said...

Worst of all time still goes to Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in that god-awful movie, Far and Away. Those were the worst Irish accents I've ever heard

Anonymous said...

As an american, your just sort of expected not to point out when someone is mangling an american accent. To date, ive seen maybe 1 or 2 performances of british people doing truly authentic quality american accents, ever. Im sure it goes both ways for americans doing british dialects. Some pretty bad ones are russell crowe, nicole kidman, eddie izzard, Patrick Mcgoohan , and the worst offender, Hugh Laurie (though, to be fair, he is doing a canadian accent i think...at least i hope he is).

Cheezy said...

Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman aren't British!

I completely agree about Hugh Laurie's accent though... it's rubbish. Even I can tell that.

Anonymous said...

I'm American and I can tell a British person mangling the accent a mile away.

Worse American accent I ever heard wasn't from England, though. It was Ewan McGregor in Down With Love. He even made fun of it in a subsequent movie.

Anyway, point was that after season three of House I almost never heard a trip up from Hugh. He does a great job.