Moviegoers love to immerse themselves into a good story and root for the character they most identify with. And in order to make the characters believable, generally the actors will attempt to use an accent to give the character a bit more depth. Unfortunately, not all these accents are convincing, and some of them can be downright cringe-worthy. Read on to find out our list of the 10 worst movie accents in history.
Bad Accents in Movies
- Kevin Costner as Robin Hood in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)
Even though Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves starred some of the biggest stars in Hollywood – Kevin Costner, Alan Rickman, Morgan Freeman, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio – one of the most memorable performances was Costner’s attempt at an English accent. Unfortunately, it was far from convincing, and often is pointed to as a prime example of a bad accent in movies.
- Tom Cruise as Frank T.J. Mackey in Magnolia (1999)
Another classic example of a terrible accent comes from Tom Cruise, who attempted a Louisiana-style drawl for his character, Frank T.J. Mackey, in Paul Thomas Anderson’s drama Magnolia. The performance was an attempted homage to the late comedian Sam Kinison and Cruise’s accent missed the mark, coming across as more comical than realistic.
- Brad Pitt as Mickey O’Neil in Snatch (2000)
Snatch, the cult classic British heist movie by Guy Ritchie, shows Pitt as a Liverpudlian boxer named Mickey O’Neil. While Pitt’s take on a Northern Irish accent is certainly arrogant and theatrical, it is nowhere near convincing and often lapses into American instead.
- Brad Pitt as Tony in Kalifornia (1993)
Speedily panned upon its release, Pitt stuck out in this 1993 thriller as the east-coast criminal Tony Montana, for far worse reasons than his often dim-witted performances. His take on a New Jersey accent was way over the top and cartoonish.
- Nicolas Cage as Benjamin Franklin Gates in National Treasure (2004)
Nicolas Cage has done a lot of accent work in his career, but one of the worst of all is the dreadful English accent he attempted to take on for the Ben Gates character in National Treasure. Commonly referred to as “Cage’s English”, it covers the full spectrum of bad accents – from super-emo quaver to weirdly antiquated.
- Antonio Banderas as Puss in Boots in Shrek 2 (2004)
Perhaps one of the odder choices on this list is Spanish actor Antonio Banderas’ performance as Puss in Boots in the 2004 animated movie Shrek 2. This was the actor’s first venture into voice work, and his interpretation of a West-country English accent (a mixture of Northern Irish and Welsh) sounded more like an American cowboy than anything else.
- Al Pacino as Shylock in The Merchant of Venice (2004)
Another actor who has often struggled with accents is Al Pacino, and his performance as Shylock in The Merchant of Venice is one of his greatest offences. Pacino overdoes it in every way imaginable, delivering a half-hearted effort at both a Jewish and a London accent, making it one of the most muddled performances in cinematic history.
- Matthew McConaughey as Wooderson in Dazed and Confused (1993)
McConaughey is best known for his southern twang, usually as a bit of a charmer. But as he took on the role of Texas stoner Wooderson in the high-school comedy Dazed and Confused, his accent was cranked up to 11. Considered by many to be one of the worst accents ever committed to celluloid, McConaughey’s performance has since been parodied by generations of comedians.
- Mike Myers as Lord Gryffincliff in The Cat in the Hat (2003)
Myers rarely strays away from using his Canadian/English experience to parody popular culture, so it came to no surprise that he slipped into a questionable English accent in The Cat in the Hat movie. Unfortunately, his take on a stuffy upper-class accent was more embarrassingly bad than anything else.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger as John Kimble in Kindergarten Cop (1990)
A classic bad accent comes from the Austrian Oak himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose character in Kindergarten Cop – John Kimble – had to switch between two different dialects as part of the movie’s plot. His American accent was passable, but as soon as he switches to his Austrian accent, in an attempt to fool the kids, it becomes painfully apparent that he doesn’t have either one down pat.
From Kevin Costner’s English accent in Robin Hood to Mike Myers’ English lilt in The Cat in the Hat, there have been some truly cringe-worthy accents in movie history. Some of these worst movie accents have become parodied by comedic actors, while others have been highlighted in film reviews and retrospectives. Whichever way you look at it, these bad movie accents are some of the most infamous moments from Hollywood.