Even Movie Stars Are Guilty: Celebrity Bad Accents

When was the last time you had to say something in another language and froze up, because you were worried about not being understood or that your awful pronunciation would lead to mortifying misunderstandings?

We have all been there. Do not fear!

If pronunciation is your particular language weakness, then we are here to tell you: mistakes are perfectly okay. More than okay: they are to be expected. And to show you just how expected and accepted they are, here are some of our favourite celebrities with questionable accents; we still love them, don’t we?

Sam Worthington

Crime against which accent: American English
Evidence: Avatar
Offence: Because the Australian accent is, dare we say it, quite nasal, by continuing to form the same mouth shape but speaking with an American accent makes it sound like the character of Jake Sully is struggling with the onset of a cold, more than he is American.

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Photo via Flickr / Flickr

Oh, Sam. Sweet, sweet Sam, you know we adore you really. But honestly, the accent in Avatar...which state was it supposed to originate from? Or is it a special colonial accent of Pandora that we don’t know about? We honestly don’t know. What we love most about Sam though is his blatant honesty in interviews about his complete inability to do accents. But he perseveres, and we do appreciate a trier, even if their efforts are questionable.

Tom Cruise

Crime against which accent: Irish English
Evidence: Far and Away
Offence: We’re not quite sure where to start. The accent veers dangerously close to British English before swerving across the channel to form a few almost-okay o sounds that are more typical of the Irish accent, before sharply pulling up and hitting the east coast of America again. It’s quite the ride.

We’re not quite sure which dialect of Irish Tom was going for when he decided to do his worst to one of the most sensual accents in the world. We think perhaps he spent a little too much time with the Guinness and not enough with his language coach. So bad that it’s funny is probably the kindest thing we can manage to say about Tom’s efforts here, that and it’s entertaining enough for us to ignore the also poor efforts of Nicole Kidman (sorry, Nicole…). But hey, at least there was some beautiful scenery in the background to distract us from the language mess, yes?

Anne Hathaway

Crime against which accent: Yorkshire English
Evidence: One Day
Offence: If you’re going to imitate Yorkshire’s finest then you should at least make some sort of effort. What we mean by that is there’s no point just doing a semi-decent “rolled” Yorkshire r sound, when the rest of the word is a flat pancake of something originating off of the A19 and heading into Lincoln.

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Photo via Wikipedia / Wikipedia

Anne. Anne, lovely person that you are, please...unhand the precious cargo that is the Yorkshire accent and back away, slowly. Come and sup some Yorkshire Tea with us and we’ll talk - about anything other than what you have done here. Anne is one of our favourite actresses generally, so we’re really not sure what happened here. But hey, accents are tricky things to master, and when you’re dealing with something as pure and wholesome as the Yorkshire accent we’d really rather you left it to the experts. Like Sean Bean. We are sure we could have persuaded him to wear a dress for this role.

Jon Voight

Crime against which accent: Spanish
Evidence: Anaconda
Offence: No effort whatsoever. There wasn’t even the over-emphasised h sound of the Spanish j (such as in ham - jamon) that we would have expected.

Mr Voight, sir. Hello. We mean no disrespect. We think it was a tremendous effort that you went to in the film with the big snakes. It must be extremely difficult to speak English with an accent originating from somewhere like Barcelona, or Madrid, or...oh. Paraguay, yes, , we can hear it now, our mistake, we do apologise. At least the CGI was equally, well. Difficult. And by difficult we mean bad. Very bad indeed. But still! We are very fond of you, sir, very fond.

Harrison Ford

Crime against which accent: Russian
Evidence: K19: The Widowmaker
Offence: Clipping the occasional vowel does not a Russian accent make. It was more like Indiana Jones was making fun of Colonel Doctor Irina Spalko than that Alexei Vostrikov had ever even seen Russia to be honest.

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Photo via Wikipedia / Wikipedia

It seems somewhat wrong, rude, and downright disrespectful to say anything at all bad about Indiana Jones and Han Solo when they are such beloved characters in our lives. Especially after certain events. Star Wars fans, you know what we mean. But. Mr Ford. Sir. It sounded more like you were tired and very bored of what was going on around you than if your character´s mother tongue was actually Slavic. Just an observation there. Perhaps some Red Bull next time?

Now, we don´t wish to single these fine actors out. For these single roles, yes. Perhaps a little more language coaching was needed. But their offences aren’t nearly as bad as those of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Russell Crowe or Gerard Butler, who it seems casting directors have given up trying to cast with an accent and let them do as they please.

We’re not even saying it´s a problem; we all have to start somewhere, right? The important thing is to try. Or as Master Yoda tells us, there is no try, only do. So do. Do the accent, even if it sounds terrible to your own ear. Practice makes perfect! Or at least better. We have given you some excellent role models of bad-accent excellence; now it’s over to you.