From Arnold Schwarzenegger to Bill Cosby, some actors have such starkly unique accents that they are often relegated to typecast roles. These actors, although equally adored, don’t always produce as diverse a body of work when compared to their verbal chameleon colleagues.
Could you imagine Arnold in a dialogue heavy film in which he does not wield some form of weaponry, like the “Kings’ Speech?” How about someone like Jet Li taking on an oscar caliber role such as that championed by Matt Damon in “Good Will Hunting?” I can, and both instances would be fatally hilarious, but that is beside the point.
There is a certain caliber of thespian that, despite hailing from abroad, has an uncanny adeptness to achieving the American Accent. So without further ado, behold 5 of the best American Accents by foreign actors. Each section will be followed by two videos, the first showing the man and the second his metaphorical mask.
5. Hugh Laurie in “House M.D.”
Dr. Gregory House
This entry requires little introduction. It is pretty much common knowledge that Laurie is a highly gifted English actor with one damned fine American accent. His raspy voiced and drug addled genius on-screen persona, Dr. House, has entranced countless American households. The Fox medical drama had a highly successful run of eight seasons spanning from 2004 to 2012.
4. Henry Cavill in “Man of Steel”
Nothing is more representative of classic American pop-culture than our favorite earth-loving alien in the red cape. Created by two Ohio High School students in 1933, the Superman brand has since become an iconic staple of American culture. Not only that, but the D.C. workhorse pretty much single handedly launched the American comic book culture into the highly lucrative strata that we know today. With that said, did you know the #1 symbol of American superhero-dom for the past 81 years is a Brit? Born Henry William Dalgliesh Cavill, this thoroughly English actor adopted the red and yellow S-shield in 2011 for Zach Snyder’s Superman reboot, “Man of Steel.” We can’t be mad. Snyder’s revisitation of the age old tale was very well-received, both critically and at the box-office. Cavill delivers a more true to form Superman than perhaps even the Christopher Reeves lead films [cue threatening fan comments]. It is certain that his American accent is, how the youngsters say, Legit. Bloody good show ol’ chap!
3. Ed Westwick in “Gossip Girl”
To play the socially elite Chuck Bass in the CW’s “Gossip Girl,” Westwick had to ditch his Brit-speak for a buoyant upperclass New York accent. Perhaps it’s Westwick’s long-cultivated theatre and music roots that have given him an ear for deciphering vocal inflections. Whatever the case may be, you’d never guess that this guy was bred on bangers and mash. Especially the way he proficiently lips his way into the bed of pretty much EVERY female character on the show with his big city savvy.
2. Andrew Lincoln in “The Walking Dead”
On the small screen, Lincoln plays Rick Grimes, a sheriff’s deputy from Georgia, leading a random collection of survivors through hordes of brain-hungry undead. At home, the English (yep another Brit) actor has his twelve o’clock tea and crumpets with a boiled blood sausage for lunch. Okay, I don’t really know if he does all of that. I am just reaching for an assignable stereotype for the sake of giggles. In any case, Lincoln makes yet another entry in the growing list of British actors pulling off top-notch American accents.
1. Ryan Kwanten in “True Blood”
Kwanten is most popularly known as the hunky dim-whited deputy, Jason Stackhouse, from HBO’s hit “True Blood.” The 37 year old actor woos viewers of the vamp-centric show with his superior shirtless physique and rich southern drawl. What you may not know is that Kwanten actually hails from the land down under. That’s Right! The Australian actor even held a recurring role on Australian soap opera, “Home and Away,” from 1997 to 2002. In 2004, Kwanten crossed the big pond to join the cast of “Summerland,” a fashion-focused flop of TV series. HBO’s “True Blood” premiered a short 4 years after Kwanten’s exodus to the states in 2008. Kwanten’s relatively new residency makes his adopted southern accent all the more impressive. I wish I could say the same for American actress, Anna Paquin, and her accent… but I can’t.