Faking an Accent

It’s an acting rite of passage. Some actors turn up to an audition having never tried the accent they are about to do. Sometimes it’s excruciating for them. Sometimes it’s excruciating for us.




‘Why did they hire (x) when they could have cast someone great with a natural local accent?’

Because it’s fun. The casting of someone widely recognised in a role that tortures and tickles our audio memory is just fun. Outside of it being a pretty good publicity tool.

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of fakes to learn from.


Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson, Anne Boleyn

‘Must I spell it OUT!’ Natalie demands incest like her life depends on it.

‘I can’t listen anymore, it’s MONSTROUS!’ Scarlett cries.

Very royal British times. Also not actually a verified scene in Anne Boleyn’s life. But it’s hilarious to watch two American actresses say these lines like they’re Helen Mirren or something.

Pro-tip: Have an accent-off with a fellow citizen.


Robin Williams, Mrs Doubtfire

‘Help is on the way deare!’

Everyone remembers the way she curled those r’s like maybe a Glaswegian would but English people don’t. They were firm but soft.

An English nanny with a random Scottish accent. Euphegenia Doubtfire is so good for the soul, no one in the movie thought to bring that up.

Pro-tip: Be damn good at one word in that accent at least. If you can, make it your thing.


Javier Bardem, No Country For Old Men

‘You’re a bit deaf aren’t ya. I said what time do ya go to bed?’

Of the 94 Awards he’s won, he got his one and only Oscar to date for saying lines like this without overdoing that twang. He was born and raised in Spain and spent most of his adult life there. So where did he put that thick Spanish accent? It’s hard enough to make people take you seriously with hair like this.

Pro-tip: Turn it down. The less they hear, the less they hear your real accent.


Tom Hanks, Forrest Gump

‘I’d make a good husband, Jennay… I’m not a smart man but I know what love is.’

He shook that twang in all the right places. He doesn’t sound nearly as Southern as this in his test scenes though. Even the way he moved was different. Young Forrest, Michael Conner Humphries is a true Mississippian and Hanks drew quite a lot from him.

Pro-tip: Change the way you move too


Tom Hardy, Locke

‘I love you.’



Awkward dialogue, awkward accent. Excellent acting though. It’s a single-shot feature with a running time of 85 minutes so the Welsh accent mixes things up. Not all Welsh people were happy about it. The person he based his leading performance on was from Surrey, and he spent some time in the Middle East prior to filming. Hardy’s effort has been described as ‘Ivor the Engine crossed with Indian immigrant.’

Pro-tips: Don’t travel and become influenced by other accents before filming. Make sure your muse is actually from that country.


Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, Far and Away

‘Tell me ya like my hat.’

‘Yer not wearing a hat.’

‘Say it! Say you like my hat!’

Watch Tom Cruise dump Nicole Kidman into a tub of water fully clothed, demanding she like his hat and suit. Why, they’re Irish immigrants of course! The scene is silly but their faces are serious.

Pro-tip: Don’t be too serious in order to be taken seriously


Nicolas Cage, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

‘…that, in a concert hall would be a disasterhh’

Watch out for the moment the hand comes up and he closes his eyes as he talks, as the Italian stereotype goes. He’s almost calling Luigi. His father is Italian but if Nicolas Cage was Italian by nationality, speaking English words, he may or may not sound like this.

Pro-tip: Hands can never take the place of words spoken in a good accent.


Renee Zellweger, Bridget Jones

‘…Oi! Oi! Sorry, the, mic’s not working’

Again, there’s no overdoing it here. She pulls off unintended backhanded compliments, nervous politeness, and the tendency to overapologise that are all characteristically British. Some say she sounds more English than most!

Pro-tip: Tap into the culture.


Brad Pitt, Snatch

‘Feck off now, while you still got the legs to carry ya’

Lots and lots of murmering and ‘what did he say?’ moments. Brad Pitt doing Mickey the Irish gypsy is better than Brad Pitt doing a British gangster, which is what he initially asked Guy Ritchie for.  This is his second attempt at an Irish accent after ‘The Devil’s Own’, mind.

Pro-tip: Don’t talk too fast. (Don’t talk too slow either)


Angelina Jolie, Maleficent

‘Royalty, nobility, the gentry, and, how quaint – even the rabble’

Angelina insisted that for this scene, the script must follow the Sleeping Beauty original word for word. They almost match exactly, even in cadence. That’s how it’s done, Brad. Because Evil and British must never not be a thing.

Pro-tip: Use a template, or make one.

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