Accents aren’t everything, when it comes to portraying a character. Sometimes, an actor can get so preoccupied with putting on their character’s native dialect, they can lose some of their acting ability in the process (see Ray Winstone in Fool’s Gold), or they just skip them completely, like the cast of ‘Valkyrie’. Am I annoyed that ‘Valkyrie’ didn’t include the German accents? Sure, it felt Americanised, but it’s no worse than Michael Caine, dropping the accent in ‘The Eagle Has Landed’. I rather than the actors nailed the part, than trying to keep up a German accent for the whole thing. Personally, I felt that Tom Cruise’s accent would have been laughable at best.
However, below are four roles that the actors felt compelled to include their own awful accents and they almost killed the film. I am sure that there are some accents that I have missed out (in fact, I know it: Dick Van Dyke and Don Cheadle have been knocked off this list, simply because they are easy targets for this article), so feel free to comment below if you can think of another.
4 – ANNE HATHAWAY, ONE DAY
The accent in question here is a Yorkshire dialect, which isn’t the easiest to master, admittedly. I don’t really blame Anne Hathaway for not quite getting the hang of it. Her character struck me as a quiet one, whereas this accent is best delivered fairly loudly. Poor Hathaway kept slipping back into her own accent, where she obviously felt more comfortable performing. Every now and again, it looked like she suddenly remembered she was meant to be playing someone from Yorkshire and threw in a couple of Midland vowels.
The reason I have included it in the list was because of the amount of articles talking about the accent. It was pretty much the only thing anyone talked about, when ‘One Day’ was thrown into conversation. It always talked about how Anne Hathaway kept the accent on between takes. I always thought this was because she was a dedicated method actor, but now I know she just needed the practice. Surely, someone would have told her that the accent was awful at some point on set. At the very least, Anne Hathaway would notice the sniggering from the make-up artists at the water cooler. This is a good example of no one criticising the famous person, even if that criticism is constructive.
3 – PIERCE BROSNAN, REMEMBER ME
Pierce Brosnan isn’t the best actor out there (not awful, just a little hit-and-miss), but one film where I was constantly being rubbed up the wrong way was ‘Remember Me’. ‘Remember Me’ is the kind of film a lot of my friends criticise and I find myself playing devil’s advocate and defending it. Pierce doesn’t make my job any easier.
In films like these, I often find the relationship between the boy and girl very cliched and boring, so I turn to the families of the leads for want of a strong storyline. ‘Remember Me’, in fairness, delivers well in this aspect: Colin Cutter plays an alcoholic dad, who beats his daughter, the female lead, and Robert Pattinson’s relationship with his sister is the best part of the film. Pierce doesn’t necessarily do terrible here (in the same way, Anne Hathaway wasn’t abysmal in ‘One Day’): his character is well scripted and Pierce handles the stubborn, overly proper role well. His American accent is what lets the side down.
At first, I was impressed. His New York voice was impressive… oh no, wait, he has a Virginian accent… no, Redneck? It’s a little all over the place. It strikes me as someone putting on a joke American accent, not realising that America is a big place at the accent varies. It’s like trying to do an ‘European’ accent and just aiming for foreign with fingers crossed.
2 – MICHAEL FASSBENDER – X-MEN: FIRST CLASS
Fassbender owns this role. While not quite topping Ian McKellan as Magneto, he still delivers a great performance and shows off that he not only knows his accents, yet his languages too. It is fun to watch and near flawless… until he randomly turns Irish in the last ten minutes. It has been explained: Fassbender wasn’t sure where the directors were going with the character and tried something new. The editors for some reason, kept both accents, as if they were deaf, or more likely, wanting to get home to the wife in time for dinner.
It is so… bizarre. Magneto kills his nemesis and then randomly turns into one of the gypsies out of ‘Snatch’. It is so laughable that I recommend this film, despite the accent: it is the kind of thing I fail to express words for – you have got to see it.
1 – MATT DAMON – THE BOURNE ULTIMATIUM
This one might need some explaining.
I am not criticising Matt Damon’s accent, as he wasn’t even doing an accent. It is a fine performance. The moment I am thinking of is when he beats up some men in a building in Germany (I don’t know which point of the film, as that was pretty much every scene in that movie). In order to divert the police from his escape, he fires some shots and calls the police, pretending to be a neighbour, calling the attack in. He does this in German to stop suspicion… which goes out of the window, when he speaks in the worst German accent ever.
I lived in France for a bit and I know my way around the language: this is why I noticed it, but no one else seems to have called Damon on it. But his voice sounds like an American tourist fumbling his way around a phrase he just learnt in a book (or a script). It’s not really a big deal, but when Bourne is supposed to be a spy who can blend into any environment, this moment was kind of laughable to me. I don’t blame the director for skipping over it; again, it is hardly noticeable. However, I am a smart alec, who is envious of everyone working in the film industry, so… Sorry, I have no idea, where I was going with that point. Probably something about Hugh Jackman…