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American or British? 10 Actors and Actresses Who Can Do Great Foreign Accents

Updated on December 19, 2017
poppyr profile image

Poppy is a proofreader and a video game enthusiast. She lives in Tokyo and has two hamsters named Zelda and Hemingway.

Part of an acting career is the ability to imitate others' accents - some actors are fantastic at this, whereas some are famous for their inability to change their accent at all (Sean Connery, Dick Van Dyke, and Nicholas Cage, for example).

However, some actors manage to master their accent so well that some people even mistake them to be from that country. This article looks at five American actors who do great English accents, and five British and Irish actors who do great American accents. Accents are one of the hardest things to master when learning a part for a movie, so hats off to these ten stars who nailed their part.


American Actors Who Can Do a Good English Accent

The English accent is difficult to master, and one that many people struggle with. However, that didn't stop some great actors from mastering the vowels, enunciation and pronunciation so well that they were awarded, praised and recognised for their performance. Here are a few Americans who do a great English accent.

1. Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp has appeared in eight Tim Burton movies and many other well-known productions such as the Pirates of the Caribbean series. It was this series that Depp portrayed his character, Captain Jack Sparrow, with a flawless English accent. It wasn't exaggerated, nor too posh - it was perfect. As a kid, Pirates of the Caribbean was the first Johnny Depp film I'd seen, and for a while I thought he was British until I saw other movies with him in such as Edward Scissorhands.

What do you think? Was Jack Sparrow a convincing Englishman, or did his accent make you cringe?

Johnny Depp's accent in Pirates of the Caribbean...

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2. Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie has been nominated for the most beautiful woman in the world award several times over the years, and has appeared for 'tough girl' parts in movies such as Salt and Mr and Mrs Smith. She was therefore a very popular choice for Tomb Raider, a part where she gained extra popularity as the smoking hot explorer, Lara Croft.

Jolie's was a good choice as Lara, and she pulls off a convincing English accent. Some of her vowels are considered by some as a little off, but we can't all be perfect - the action-packed movie made up for any small mistakes. Nice work, Angelina.

Did you like Jolie's performance as English explorer Lara Croft? Vote below.

Lara Croft, "Tomb Raider"
Lara Croft, "Tomb Raider" | Source

Angelina Jolie's accent in Tomb Raider...

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3. Robert Downey Jr

Robert Downey Jr is best known for his performances in Iron Man and the Avengers, but let's not forget his appearance in the 2009 adaptation of Sherlock Holmes. I found Downey Jr irresistible as Sherlock - perhaps it was the 1800s attire, or his dashing, almost-perfect English accent. I personally think he rocked the part as Sherlock, adding a great accent for a truly great movie.

Did you like Downey's accent in this movie, or do you think it could have been better?

Robert Downey Jr's accent in Sherlock Holmes...

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4. Elijah Wood

The casting crew of Lord of the Rings struggled to find the perfect actor to play Frodo, the main character. Elijah Wood stepped in and played his part perfectly, along with a perfect English accent. The accent was something Sean Astin, who played Frodo's best friend Samwise Gamgee, couldn't achieve.

Lord of the Rings was the first movie with Elijah Wood in that I ever saw, and for a long time I actually thought he was from the United Kingdom. Great job, Wood!


Elijah Wood's accent in Lord of the Rings...

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5. Renée Zellweger

Another American actress I actually thought was British - Renée Zellweger did an undeniably fantastic job as Bridget Jones in Bridget Jones' Diary, knocking critics off their feet, who at first were reluctant to have an American actress portray an all-English woman. But Zellweger was great, mastering the London twang very convincingly. Until I saw her in other films such as Shark Tale and Chicago, I thought Zellweger was from England. Great job, Renée!

Do you agree? Did Zellweger nail the part as Bridget Jones, or could her accent have been improved?

Renée Zellweger's accent in Bridget Jones' Diary...

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British and Irish actors who can do a good American accent

The American accent isn't easy, either, and some actors just can't seem to nail it. However, there are some British accents who can pull off a New York dialect or a Southern twang so well, that many viewers were left thinking that the actor was from the States. Here's some examples of British and Irish actors who can pull of an American accent.

6. Brian Cox

Brian Cox proved that Scots can sometimes change their accent - and did so in the Ringer as Johnny Knoxville's greedy uncle Gary. Cigar in hand and gambling addict attire set, Cox gave a convincing performance as an American. I didn't realise he was Scottish until much, much later. Great job, Cox.

Did you like Brian Cox's accent in the Ringer?

Gary Barker, "The Ringer"
Gary Barker, "The Ringer" | Source

Brian Cox's accent in the Ringer...

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7. Kate Beckinsale

Kate Beckinsale is a gorgeous actress from London who appeared in one of my favourite movies of all time, Click, starring Adam Sandler and Christopher Walken. She portrays Sandler's wife, Donna, and although she doesn't play a major part, she has plenty of lines - all of which are performed with a great northern American accent; they aren't exaggerated or drawn-out - it's as natural as can be.

What about you? Did you like Beckinsale's accent in Click, or could it have been better?


Kate Beckinsale's accent in Click...

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8. Daniel Day-Lewis

Many people thought Daniel Day-Lewis was from the USA after his performance as an all-American man in movies such as There Will Be Blood. His part as Daniel Plainview was nothing short of spectacular. Not only does he look the part, he nailed the accent too. Another great performance by a great actor.

Do you agree, or do you think there's something missing in Daniel Day-Lewis' performance? Vote below.

Daniel Day-Lewis' accent in There Will Be Blood...

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9. Colin Farrell

Colin Farrell isn't British (he's Irish) but he was worth a mention. Farrell has appeared in a lot of Hollywood movies such as Phone Booth, where he portrays a New Yorker and portrays it well, too.

Although Farrell seems to struggle with an English accent, his American twang is almost perfect. Another actor who people don't always realise isn't actually from the States. I first saw him in the movie In Bruges, where he's as Irish as you can get - it was amazing to see how different he was in Phone Booth.

Do you like Colin Farrell's American accent, or do you think it could be improved?

Colin Farrell's accent in Phone Booth...

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10. Kate Winslet

Kate Winslet is another charming British actress that I didn't realise was English until a long time after her performance with Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic. Her American accent isn't perfect, but good enough to where I assumed that she was from the States, not Reading, England.

Do you agree? How was Kate Winslet's accent in Titanic?


Kate Winslet's accent in Titanic...

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Being able to imitate a different accent is a valuable skill for any actor or actress to have. Can your favourite celebrity imitate a dialect well or are they hopelessly tied to their native twang?

© 2014 Poppy


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    • profile image

      Stargrrl 2 years ago

      All of the actors you've mentioned in this hub do a superb job. Daniel Day Lewis is probably the best around. Gwyneth Paltrow also gave a powerful performance in "Shakespeare in Love."

    • Brooke18 profile image

      Brooke 3 years ago from South Carolina

      Ha ha!

    • poppyr profile image

      Poppy 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Can you imagine Jim Carrey as Jack Sparrow? "But you HAAAAAAVE heard of meeeee!"

    • Brooke18 profile image

      Brooke 3 years ago from South Carolina

      Wow, that's crazy!

    • poppyr profile image

      Poppy 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Yeah Jim Carrey was considered for the part too!

    • Brooke18 profile image

      Brooke 3 years ago from South Carolina

      No way! Really?

      Hugh Jackman is pretty awesome! He's pretty sexy in the X-Men and Wolverine movies!

    • poppyr profile image

      Poppy 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Thanks for your comment Brooke. They are great movies! Can you believe the part was offered to Hugh Jackman first??

    • Brooke18 profile image

      Brooke 3 years ago from South Carolina

      I love Johnny Depp, particularly his role as Captain Jack Sparrow! The Pirates of the Caribbean movies are only great because of his performance (and Orlando Bloom)! Great hub!