accents film

Bad Movie Dialect

Over the past week, I have been reading many reviews and tweets from others who have seen the movie One Day, starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess. It’s a film adaptation of the bestselling novel also called One Day by David Nicholls.

While the book got the thumbs up, the film did not. One sticking point for many people was the not-so-great Yorkshire accent by Ms. Hathaway herself.

I started to think about all those other movies where actors/actresses donned dodgy Irish or English accents, and the movies where they got it pretty darn right. So I compiled a loose list of Irish accents (good and bad) and some English ones. Since I’m Irish, I will start on those first. I will try to give it a go on the English accents but remember my only reference is UK television and friends, so what I think is authentic might not be and you can tell me off if I have it wrong!

Bad Irish Accents (And one Northern Irish One)

  • Far and Away- Tom Cruise’s dire ‘You’re a corker Shannon, what a corker you are’ accent. I have never heard anyone Irish say that- ever!  Youtube clip (Spoiler alert- as in his accent and Nicole Kidman’s shocker spoiled the film. Watch at your own peril.)
  • Michael Collins- The expensive Julia Roberts did her best to clinch the Irish accent and failed miserably. I can’t quite remember what she sounded like because I blocked it out of my memory.
  • The Untouchables- No matter what role Sean Connery is playing, he still can’t seem to shake his Scottish lilt.
  • The Devil’s Own- Brad Pitt learns that being a Hollywood big hitter does not make you good at foreign accents. His Northern Irish accent was less than perfect. I read that he hung around Belfast for a few days trying to pick up the accent. Yes, because that’s all the voice coaching you need when you are Mr. Pitt.
  • P.S. I Love You- Film adaptation from book with same name by Cecelia Ahern. Since the author was Irish, some of the characters were Irish and the story was set in Ireland, I thought they might have selected from the Irish talent out there to play key roles. So the crap accent award goes to two men; Gerard Butler (It’s true you can’t do any accent. You are afflicted with the same problem as Sean Connery, in that you always sound Scottish) and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (What the bleep was that all about?)

Pretty Good Irish Accents

  • Inside I’m Dancing – Scottish actor, James McAvoy, is a master at accents. He plays a Dublin man with Muscular Dystrophy, and in my view, really nails the Dublin accent. Good Job.
  • My Left Foot- Englishman, Daniel Day Lewis, plays Christy Brown, and perfects his inner city Dublin accent.
  • In America- Paddy Considine and Samantha Morton both ditched their regular English accents to deliver a decent performance (and decent Irish accent) in this 2002 film.

Okay, now over to the other side of the Water.

Bad English Accents

  • Mary Poppins – Okay even I knew the cockney accent shouldn’t quite sound like Dick Van Dyke’s interpretation. Accent pretty similar to many a Leprechaun movie that was ever made; pointless.
  • St. Trinians. Yes, Mischa Barton’s American twang riddled English accent. Oh dear.

  • Robin Hood-Prince of Thieves. Kevin Costner didnt even try!

Pretty Good English Accents

  • Becoming Jane- James McAvoy pops up again as Tom Lefroy, an Irish-Huguenot politician and judge, with a typical-of- the-era Irishman with English accent.
  • Prince of Persia- Jake Gyllenhaal stars as the Prince of Persia and has an English accent to boot. I thought the accent was pretty decent. I hope you agree.
  • The Tudors– Cork born, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, stars as King Henry the Eighth. The series was shot in Ireland and many Irish actors were used. But none of them could carry off an English accent quite like Mr. Meyers himself.
  • Twenty Eight Days Later- Another Irishman, this time starring Cillian Murphy, who wakes up in post- contagion London. Accent was pretty good because he played an Irishman! Okay,I sneaked this one in! He’s a Cork man doing a Dublin accent, so should have been in the Irish list.
  • Sliding Doors- Gwynnie Paltrow ditches her American twang to play English woman, Helen, in this romantic movie.
  • Ocean’s Eleven series – Don Cheadle pulls off a convincing English accent. I was surprised to find out later he was actually American. Although, I’m reading many online comments that his cockney was pretty dire. Sorry for including it!

I know there are more than this, so please share your best and worst movie accents!