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Top 10 Actors Who Nail The English Accent

VO: Richard Bush
Written by Sean Harris Many have tried. Most have failed. But every so often there’s an attempt that doesn’t offend our ears. Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 actors who can nail the English accent! For this list, we’ve gathered the best and most convincing English accents in film and TV, all fabulously feigned by American and Canadian actors. Special thanks to our users Danny George and Theodore Wilhelm for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Actors Who Nail The English Accent


Many have tried. Most have failed. But every so often there’s an attempt that doesn’t offend our ears. Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 actors who can nail the English accent!

For this list, we’ve gathered the best and most convincing English accents in film and TV, all fabulously feigned by American and Canadian actors.

#10: Mike Myers
The “Austin Powers” franchise (1997-2002)

We kick things off with a caricature of the British super spy genre, but a comic accent that actually holds up – most of the time. Yes, Mike Myers’ Austin Powers inflection is OTT, but that’s all part of the charm. Powers’ well-rounded mutterings on all things shagadelic skirt the Queen’s English stereotype, but blend it with a roughness to make it seem quite genuine. The jury’s still out on Fat Bastard’s Scottish snarl, but Austin’s intonation is pretty groovy, baby.

#9: Angelina Jolie
“Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” (2001)

A film which forced accent changes throughout the cast, the first “Tomb Raider” sees Scot actor Iain Glen switch to English, and the Englishman Daniel Craig adopt American. But Angelina Jolie takes the title role, masking her US tones with Lara Croft’s clipped and quintessential cadence. Jolie doesn’t have a pitch perfect history with accents, but this one’s on the right side of believable. Bringing a high-class sound to a high-octane role, Jolie’s Lara owns every scene she’s in.

#8: Johnny Depp
“Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” (2007)

To another actor who’s tackled an English accent on multiple occasions – with varying success. Jack Sparrow’s daggered drawl is instantly recognisable, but Johnny’s Sweeney Todd trod closer to Cockney – with some listeners comparing both voices to Rolling Stones rocker, Keith Richards. Ultimately, Depp’s demon barber boasts a unique snarl, with a blend of British influences. Of course, Johnny spends most of this movie mid-song, so consistency is key – and he doesn’t disappoint.

#7: Maggie Gyllenhaal
“The Honourable Woman” (2014)

Acceptable accents are a shared trait for the Gyllenhaals, with Jake pulling off a passable effort for the otherwise pretty pants “Prince of Persia” movie. But Maggie deserves most credit, for her role in the 2014 BBC series, “The Honourable Woman”. In the show, Maggie plays Nessa Stein – a high-ranking businesswoman who becomes the Baroness of Tilbury. And given that most of her scenes are stacked with emotional intensity, she carries her character’s voice with conviction. It’s one of many reasons she bagged a Golden Globe for the role.

#6: Kevin Kline
“As You Like It” (2006)

Kenneth Branagh’s contemporary adaptation of this Shakespeare comedy suffered some scathing reviews, but Kevin Kline’s performance proved a definite highlight. Starring as Jacques, the Missouri-born actor won a Screen Actors Guild Award for his work, thanks in large part to the effectiveness of his accent. There’s probably no truer test of an actor’s English intonation than the Bard’s Elizabethan best - and it’s a test that Kline clearly conquers. And that’s despite the original play being set in Europe, and Branagh relocating the action to Japan, for some reason.

#5: Robert Downey Jr.
“Sherlock Holmes” (2009)

There aren’t many more iconic or intrinsically English characters than Sherlock Holmes, so many raised an eyebrow when Guy Ritchie cast Hollywood hotshot Robert Downey Jr. as the super sleuth, in 2009. Sure, Jude Law brings enough Englishness for two, but could RDJ really convince in the lead role? Yes, he could. Downey Jr.’s Sherlock taps into Holmes’ eccentricities with the wizened tones of someone always with the answers on the tip of their tongue. And any accent that holds up against Mark Strong’s booming vocals is a winner in our eyes.

#4: Michael McKean, Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer
“This Is Spinal Tap” (1984)

In the mid-80s, David St. Hubbins, Nigel Tufnel and Derek Smalls were better known as one of the most famous British rock bands on the planet – Spinal Tap. However, not only was the group set up to parody heavy metal music, but its three main members weren’t even British. US Comedians Michael McKean, Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer all pulled the wool over everyone’s ears with their humble Home Counties, Essex-esque approach, faking their accents for the entire mockumentary. It’s only rock ‘n’ roll, but we liked it.

#3: Gwyneth Paltrow
“Shakespeare in Love” (1998)

An actress whose early career is peppered with English roles, Gwyneth Paltrow plays the English Rose better than most – despite being born in LA. The actress scored international fame (and an Oscar) when she starred as Viola in “Shakespeare in Love”. Looking and sounding far from out of place in merry Tudor England, her accent’s all the more effective because Paltrow doesn’t waiver during high-tension moments. A romantic-comedy period drama with an American taking the lead, this film might’ve been a laughing stock. Instead, it was the toast of critics everywhere.

#2: Renée Zellweger
The “Bridget Jones” franchise (2001-16)

To another icon of Englishness, but another brought to the big screen by an American actress. Renée Zellweger puts in a career-defining turn as Bridget Jones, whose eponymous diary fuels one of the UK’s most popular rom-coms. Zellweger was taught her accent by the same voice coach as Paltrow had worked with for Viola, Barbara Berkery, and Bridget’s voice now seems as much a part of her character as big pants and embarrassing fancy dress. A playful, prim and proper tone, it certainly catches the attentions of Messrs Cleaver and Darcy.

#1: Meryl Streep
“The Iron Lady” (2011)

It’s one thing to tackle the vocal nuances of a fictional character, but quite another to recreate the pitch and range of a figure from history. Meryl Streep stepped into Margaret Thatcher’s shoes for “The Iron Lady” in 2011, receiving widespread acclaim for her portrayal of the controversial PM. And Streep’s award-winning performance includes some spot-on voice work. The celebrated US actress plays on Thatcher’s polished tones as if they were her own, commanding authority whenever she speaks. It’s inflection perfection, on a prime-ministerial level.
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