The 12 worst fake accents in film, from Ana de Armas to Russell Crowe

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·5-min read
The 12 worst fake accents in film, from Ana de Armas to Russell Crowe
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Ana de Armas stars as Marilyn Monroe in the controversial Netflix film, Blonde.

The forthcoming movie is a fictional take on the iconic Hollywood star, but fans of Monroe have already found plenty to take issue with, after the release of a new trailer last week.

One of the most glaring problems (according to fans), is that the Spanish-Cuban de Armas seems to have trouble making her accent sound similar to Monroe’s distinctive voice.

But de Armas is not the only actor to struggle with their character’s accent, even with the aid of a dialect coach.

Here are 12 memorable examples of a film accent going wrong.

Ana de Armas in Blonde (2022)

Andrew Dominik’s Marilyn Monroe film is not even out yet and its star, Ana de Armas, is already facing backlash for her accent. De Armas said she underwent “nine months” of dialect coach training to play the LA-born sex symbol, but fans of Monroe are convinced she could have done with a few more – if the trailer is anything to go by.

Ana De Armas as Marilyn Monroe in ‘Blonde’ (Netflix)
Ana De Armas as Marilyn Monroe in ‘Blonde’ (Netflix)

Lady Gaga in House of Gucci (2021)

Lady Gaga said she inhabited the character of Patrizia Reggiani – the wife of Maurizio Gucci, whom she had assassinated in 1995 – for a year and a half, carrying the accent for nine months of that on and off-screen. Unfortunately, the result of all this method work was an accent that the film’s actual dialect coach described as sounding “more Russian” than Italian. Awkward.

Read more: 17 terrible performances by great actors, from Tom Hardy to Robert De Niro

Literally everyone in Wild Mountain Thyme (2020)

Wild Mountain Thyme is a romantic drama that, thanks to the surreal accents of its stars, broke the internet upon the release of its trailer. The film, starring Emily Blunt and Jamie Dornan, is a veritable feast of poorly-accented horror. Set on a mystical Irish farm in an indiscernible year (is it 2019 or 1953? Who knows!), the film features a cast of incredibly talented A-listers mercilessly bludgeoning the Irish accent beyond all recognition. Christopher Walken’s is straining for Mullingar but sounds more like “Pirate Christopher Walken”; Blunt’s is baffling; then there’s Jamie Dornan, who is actually Irish but sounds like someone who’s never set foot in the country.

Jamie Dornan and Emily Blunt in ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’ (Lionsgate)
Jamie Dornan and Emily Blunt in ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’ (Lionsgate)

Anne Hathaway in One Day (2011)

Anne Hathaway is an actress of undoubted talent, but whichever way you spin it, Hathaway starring as a Yorkshire “lass” doesn’t sound like a recipe for success. Nor indeed was it. The film boasts an impressively poor 36 per cent critics score on Rotten Tomatoes, thanks in part to Hathaway’s cartoonish northern accent. Despite claiming to have watched Emmerdale to prepare for the role, Hathaway’s attempt “one of the most honkingly rubbish Yorkshire accents you’ve ever heard”, according to The Telegraph’s critic Robbie Collin.

Russell Crowe in Robin Hood (2010)

Russell Crowe, normally a sure-fire for a historic British accent, was widely derided for his performance as Robin Hood in Ridley Scott’s 2010 action film. Crowe dithered between Irish and Yorkshire and his native Kiwi accent, leaving viewers baffled. Crowe even stormed out of a BBC interview with Mark Lawson after the journalist suggested that his character sounded Irish. Years later, Crowe would reveal that his principal inspiration for the accent was... Michael Parkinson. Which explains quite a lot, actually.

Russell Crowe swore after a BBC presenter suggested that hints of his Robin Hood accent did not sound English (AP)
Russell Crowe swore after a BBC presenter suggested that hints of his Robin Hood accent did not sound English (AP)

Don Cheadle in the Oceans trilogy (2001, 2004, 2007)

Yet another brilliant US actor to fall victim to the British accent. Cheadle’s accent for the heist trilogy was a comically over-the-top cockney. Speaking in 2008, Cheadle begged: “Forgive me! I won’t do it again!” Phew.

Nicolas Cage in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (2001)

If you’ve seen this film, you’ll struggle to believe that Cage has Italian heritage (his father was literature professor August Coppola, brother of director Francis Ford Coppola). Despite learning to play the mandolin for real for the film, Cage clearly did not go to such trouble for his Italian accent, which comes off a bit more like Jack Black’s controversial Mexican voice in Nacho Libre.

Keanu Reeves in Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)

Keanu Reeves gives a notably risible performance in Bram Stoker's Dracula, thanks in large part to his hilarious “British” accent. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly in 2015, director Francis Ford Coppola explained: “He tried so hard. That was the problem, actually – he wanted to do it perfectly and in trying to do it perfectly it came off as stilted.” We still love you, Keanu, and the film is still great.

‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’ (Zoetrope/Columbia Tri-Star/Kobal/Shutterstock)
‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’ (Zoetrope/Columbia Tri-Star/Kobal/Shutterstock)

Tom Cruise in Far and Away (1992)

Tom Cruise is actively terrible in Far and Away, a bizarre Ron Howard adventure film that marked the second of three wildly divergent collaborations with Cruise’s then-wife, Nicole Kidman. His Irish accent is fluttery noise, there one minute and gone the next.

Pierce Brosnan in Taffin (1988)

If you haven’t seen Brosnan’s pre-Bond action film Taffin (and you absolutely have not), you still may have seen a specific 14 seconds of it, with the actor commanding his love interest to leave his home using a delivery that can only be described as Tommy Wiseau-esque. But Irish viewers have even more reason to be confused, namely that Brosnan is from the Republic of Ireland but speaks in an incomprehensible Northern Irish accent throughout. His line “Then maybe you shouldn’t be living heeeerrrre” is entrenched in cinematic lore.

'Maybe you shouldn't be living here!': (The genuinely Irish) Pierce Brosnan in 'Taffin' (MGM)
'Maybe you shouldn't be living here!': (The genuinely Irish) Pierce Brosnan in 'Taffin' (MGM)

Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)

Mickey Rooney’s portrayal of Japanese landlord Mr Yunioshi in this classic is now widely accepted as a toxic caricature built on racist stereotypes. With taped eyelids and buck teeth, Rooney completed his absurd performance with an offensive parody of a Japanese accent. Rooney later said he"wouldn't have done it" had he known it would offend people.

Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins (1964)

Dick Van Dyke’s English accent in Mary Poppins is regarded as the “worst attempt by an American to go British” according to a 2017 poll by Babel. Even Van Dyke agrees, saying after receiving a BAFTA in 2017: “I appreciate this opportunity to apologise to the members of BAFTA for inflicting on them the most atrocious Cockney accent in the history of cinema.”

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