15 of the worst film accents ever attempted on the big screen

As Jamie Dornan and Emily Blunt are roundly derided for their Irish accents in their new rom-com, we look back at some of the worst cinematic crimes against linguistics

Tom Cruise, Anne Hathaway and Brad Pitt have all attempted different accents onscreen, to varying degrees of authenticity. Amy Leang / The National, Frazer Harrison / Getty Images / AFP, Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images / AFP  
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Ah, to be sure, to be sure, and a top o’ the mornin’ to ya!

With all apologies to Ireland, their world-famous brogue has been abused by Hollywood once again, this time by English actress, Emily Blunt and Northern Irish actor, Jamie Dornan.

The pair has come under humorous attack on social media for their accents in the trailer for their new film, romantic comedy Wild Mountain Thyme, which have been sarcastically dubbed "a hate crime". With one Twitter user declaring: "You know it's bad when Christopher Walken's Irish accent is better than Jamie Dornan's."

"Well, Jamie's from Northern Ireland, so we were both sort of thrown in at the deep end having to do an accent that was unfamiliar," Blunt told People magazine. "But he assured me that I sounded Irish and I'm going to believe him. So, if he's wrong, I'm going to blame him for any backlash on my accent."

We run down through the 15 worst accents actors and actresses have attempted on film, and yes, English and Irish accents definitely get butchered the most…

15. Jamie Dornan, ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ (2015)

Straight back to Dornan here, for his attempt at playing a Detroit-born billionaire in the film that kick-started the Fifty Shades trilogy. The Northern Irishman's accent wavered all over the place, veering from Irish to American, often in the same sentence.

14. Anne Hathaway, ‘One Day’ (2011)

The New York-born actress tried her hand at a North Yorkshire accent to play the role of Emma Morley in the big screen adaptation of David Nicholls' best-seller. Admitting that she learned the accent by watching episodes of long-running British soap, Emmerdale, which is set in the Yorkshire Dales, Hathaway said of the accent: "It is actually quite exotic for me."

13. Brad Pitt, ‘Seven Years in Tibet’ (1997)

This adaptation of the book by Austrian mountaineer, Heinrich Harrer, saw Oklahoma-born Pitt go full on Schwarzenegger with his accent, turning every w into a v, and replacing every th with a z. Nailed it.

12. Russell Crowe, ‘Robin Hood’ (2010)

Possibly because Robin Hood was from Nottingham, and regional British accents seem to fox non-British actors, Crowe fails to nail his mark. Born in New Zealand and raised in Australia, the actor's accent went on its own meandering journey across the British isles, sometimes going full-on Northerner, sometimes posh English.

11. Heather Graham, ‘From Hell’ (2001)

We're quite sure the Wisconsin-born actress perfected her accent by watching a lot of Dick van Dyke in Mary Poppins (more on him below). Her accent veers into comedy at times, especially when attempting working-class English slang such as "doss". Her co-star, Johnny Depp is equally guilty, with both seeming to think that switching out th sounds for fr ("Frow us in jail then") does a cockney make.

10. James Van Der Beek, ‘Varsity Blues’ (1999)

We think what happened here is that Dawson… sorry, James, was cosplaying Matthew McConaughey in this film about American football in Texas. The Connecticut native manages to add numerous additional syllables to even the shortest of words.

8 & 9. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, ‘Far and Away’ (1992)

American actor, Cruise and his then-wife Kidman, who hails from Australia, both tried on Dublin accents for this film. Props to Cruise for really (and we mean, really) trowing hisself roight into dat accent. Was there any scenery left on this movie by the end after ge chewed it all up with his Oirishness? Possibly not.

7. Jon Voight, ‘Anaconda’ (1997)

Angelina Jolie's dad and Oscar-winner Voight plays a Paraguayan in this cult classic about a giant snake in the Amazon. For about 90 per cent of the film, Voight veers into Tony Montana of Scarface territory, even though Montana was from Cuba. "Say hello to my little snake" indeed.

6. Brad Pitt, ‘The Devil’s Own’ (1997)

For Pitt’s second entry on the list, he plays Republican Irish terrorist, Frankie McGuire. However, his accent can’t quite decide which part of Ireland he’s supposed to hail from.

4 & 5. Christian Slater and Kevin Costner, 'Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves' (1991)

Although most of the accent shame for this film gets heaped (quite rightly) on Costner, that would be to overlook the crimes against the English accent that Slater perpetuates. While Costner likes to keep the audience on its toes with a sometimes-English, sometimes-American accent to play Sherwood’s favourite son, Slater goes full-on Van Dyke as Will Scarlet, then just gives up halfway through the film.

3. Nicolas Cage, ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ (2001)

For-a this-a film-a, Nicolas a-Cage plays-a an-a Italian army a-captain called-a Antonio Corelli who-a goes-a to-a… Oh, I can’t keep this up, it’s exhausting. And so was Cage’s cartoonish accent in the film. What makes it worse is that Cage’s real-life family on his father’s side are Italian. He should have known better.

2. Keanu Reeves, ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’ (1992)

You know who would make a great uptight English solicitor in a remake of one of the most classic novels of all time? That guy who played Ted "Theodore" Logan in Bill & Ted. What I would have given to have been in that casting meeting. As Jonathan Harker, Reeves clearly struggles with his English accent at every turn, making every word beginning with w into a breathless wh, as if that whill make us think he's posh.

1. Dick Van Dyke, ‘Mary Poppins' (1964)

The grand daddy of terrible movie accents. Although it's impossible to hate on cinematic legend Van Dyke, we can still poke fun at his turn as cockney chimneysweep, Bert. "Orlroight, Mary Poppinsh, schtep in toime." Sorry, and now again in English, please? Can I get a chim chim cher-ee!