Some of the most memorable Irish revolutionaries, Ugandan dictators, and American psychos on film have been brought to us by actors who were totally faking it. Scarlett O’Hara? Undercover Brit. Vito Corleone? Secretly doesn’t have cotton balls in his mouth. But then there are stars whose vocal coaches must’ve taken the day off. Today we salute those actors whose attempted accents made us laugh, cry, and imitate them endlessly.
Kevin Costner, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves & 13 Days
Costner’s British accent (or lack thereof) in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was so bad that Mel Brooks called it out in his Robin Hood movie just two years later. But the guy wasn’t any better at a Boston accent, as seen in the Cuban missile crisis movie 13 Days, where the Cos boldy invents hysterical new ways to say “defense” and “report card.”
James Van Der Beek, Varsity Blues
Dawson’s Texan accent may be more laughable than a kitten wearing a top cat (silly cat trying to be fancy!), but if it weren’t for his misguided attempt, we wouldn’t have his infamous reading of, “I don’t want yer life.” And then the world would be a dark, scary place.
Chris Hemsworth, Snow White and the Huntsman
Yes, Thor is awesome and yes, Chris Hemsworth’s hair is prettier than any of ours will ever be. But that Scottish accent he tacks onto the huntsman is spotty at best, and frequently falters into his natural Australian accent. Plus, it really sticks out next to the “sorta British” inflection Charlize and KStew sport throughout the movie.
Nicolas Cage, Con Air
Directors now know better than to ask Nicolas Cage to do anything except widen his eyes and scream “BEES,” but back in ‘97, someone bravely asked him to do an Alabaman accent. Needless to say, it did not go well. For more Nicolas Cage affectation fun, try to figure out what accent our buddy Nic has in Vampire’s Kiss.
Dick Van Dyke, Mary Poppins
When we all listened to Bert’s mangled Cockney accent as grade schoolers, we were too distracted by the dancing penguins to notice. Now, it sounds kinda terrible, but then again, so does sugary cough syrup.
Keanu Reeves, Dracula
You know what they say: You can cast Keanu Reeves as a Jonathan Harker, but you can’t actually make him act. Even with all the other weird stuff going on in this movie, it’s impossible to tear yourself away from Keanu, who not only sounds nothing like a British man, but also relies heavily on the Joey Tribiani “smell the fart” school of acting.
Angelina Jolie, Alexander
Colin Farrell is pretty bad at hiding his natural accent here, but that hardly matters when his mom is rocking some totally unidentifiable inflection. It seems like she’s going for a non-specific, sinister foreign thing, but if that’s the case, they should’ve just hired Jafar.
Almost everybody, Footloose (2011)
Maybe they were all too exhausted from doing angry dances in warehouses, but man, basically none of the principal cast committed to their accents here. Julianne Hough puts on a slight Southern drawl when she remembers to, Dennis Quaid and Andie MacDowell just seem to be talking in their normal voices, and Kenny Wormald—who grew up near Boston—has a comical Beantown accent one minute and nothing the next. A half-hearted attempt at a remake is one thing, but disappointing the Bacon? That’s another thing entirely.
Orson Welles, The Lady From Shanghai
We would pay tens of dollars to see Orson Welles from this movie and Paul Rudd from I Love You, Man in an Irish accents contest because a) it would be hilarious and b) Paul Rudd would probably win.
Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained
The latest addition to the awful accent canon is Quentin Tarantino, whose cameos in his movies have been making people squirm for two whole decades. He finally reached the pinnacle with his latest role as an Australian miner. While the script might say Australian, you could also easily make a case that it’s an alien Muppet accent.
What’s the worst accent you’ve ever heard in a movie?