Have you ever noticed how British actors regularly come to America and start booking roles that would normally go to Americans? No hate, we love ‘em all, but it’s just a fact. And hey, these Brits seem to possess stellar training, a disciplined, serious approach to the work, and a keen handle on the English language, so it’s no surprise they’re crushing the game. Daniel Kaluuya who skyrocketed to fame with his performance in the horror-thriller Get Out is originally from London; Bane himself, the great Tom Hardy, is from Hammersmith; American Psycho’s Christian Bale hails from Wales; Will Poulter of We’re the Millers comes off as a typical American teenager, but he was born in London; The Social Network actor and Spider-Man reboot star Andrew Garfield was born in Los Angeles, but was raised in Epsom, England; and the inimitable Daniel Day-Lewis of Gangs of New York, There Will Be Blood, and Lincoln was born in London, considers himself British, and resides in the hills of Annamoe, Ireland.

This is all well and good because these are phenomenal actors who’ve contributed greatly to many notable films and TV shows over the years. But why don’t we, in a healthy kinda way, turn the tables on our friends across the pond? Why can’t Americans book roles that would traditionally go to English actors? Turnabout is fair play, no? 

However, to audition for the next Withnail & I or Blow-Up or Trainspotting, you’ll have to master a regional accent of English.

Here are a few American actors who have played native Brits, and done it pretty darn well!

Safe, the underrated Netflix British detective series, stars Dexter star Michael C. Hall. Michael was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, and was educated at New York University’s Fine Arts program for acting, and yet he pulls off a decidedly authentic British accent. Many folks from the United Kingdom are quite impressed with Hall’s well-formed accent in the Harlan Coben mystery thriller. “I wanted to sound like a contemporary British person, not a Monty Python character,” he says. And concerning the key to a legitimate and convincing English accent, Michael had this to say: “I worked with the dialect guy on ‘The Crown’ and we were just making sure the accent was consistent. That the sounds I was making would plausibly be coming from the same mouth.”

The legendary Johnny Depp has been tasked with a British accent in quite a few projects over the years. Most notably, he’s drunkenly warbled and spit the musings and dark secrets of one Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. 

Masters of Accents had this to say about the larger-than-life actor’s English accent:

“It’s well-known Depp based his Jack Sparrow accent on Keith Richards and the result is pretty impressive. The British accent is almost meant to be slurred, and Depp pulls it off admirably in four films.”

In the Hughes Brothers horror-thriller From Hell, Depp delivers a pretty tough cockney accent as Fred Abberline, a drug-addled detective in search of Jack the Ripper. And in the Tim Burton musical Sweeney Todd, Johnny yet again affects a tough Londoners cockney accent to compelling effect. And the fact that Depp sings the macabre songs of anguish and revenge with such passion and dark commitment tends to empower the historical Victorian-era accent.

Angelina Jolie has taken on the challenge of an English accent in both the Lara Croft movies and the Maleficent franchise, among other films. In fact, she once stated that: “I still slide into an English accent every now and then from my ‘Tomb Raider’ days!” More recently, the Academy Award-winning actress has flexed her English accent playing the vengeful Maleficent in Disney’s dark fairytale. Given her talent and erudite nature, Jolie manages to carry out a credible accent and ultimately make it her own. “As Americans, we don’t have such a gift with language and so I tried to study and listen to a lot of tapes of British theater actors,” she says.

So, how’s your English accent? Are you ready to star in a British sitcom or a dramatic period piece? And if not, what are you waiting for? Get to work!

Comments

comments