I have come across many films whose producers/casting/whatever feel the need to cast someone despite the character having a totally different accent. The diligent actor goes off to language schooling lessons and problem solved! Err, no. Very rarely can someone convincingly pull off a foreign accent. My list shows the ones I have come across, albeit mostly attempts at British accents as I am English and they're the ones I know best. Any others are for believability rather than accuracy - I can't comment properly on what I don't know!
EDIT: Added Famke Janssen.
“ American attempting Jamaican...
I THINK she was trying to be Jamaican in Buffy, but I could be wrong... Either way, it was bizarre and made it impossible to take her seriously ” - rowenna2000
Swedish actress Noomi Rapace is the daughter of fellow Swedish actress Nina Norén
and Spanish Flamenco singer Rogelio Durán. Her parents did not stay together, and when Rapace was five she moved to Iceland with her mother and stepfather, where she lived for three years. When she was eight, she was cast in a small role in the Icelandic film...
“ Swede attempting English as Elizabeth Shaw.
I didn't even realize she was supposed to be English until I read the film trivia! ” - rowenna2000
Charlize Theron was born in Benoni, a city in the greater Johannesburg-area, in South Africa, the only child of Gerda Theron
(née Gerda Jacoba Aletta Maritz) and Charles Jacobus Theron. She was raised on a farm outside the city. Theron is of Afrikaner (Dutch, with some French Huguenot and German) descent, and Afrikaner military figure Danie Theron was her great-great-uncle...
“ South African attempting English, in Arrested Development.
Almost creepy. ” - rowenna2000
“ Englishwoman attempting a cockney accent both as Ike Latulippe in 'Bones' and Martine Love in 'The Bank Job'.
Every time she spoke I winced. This is as bad as Don Cheadle's, I mean... Wow. Not to mention for a Londoner as well. And why, why would they have her do it when it's so obviously terrible. At first, I thought she was trying to be South African... Ouch. And to do it TWICE! ” - rowenna2000
Shirley MacLaine was born Shirley MacLean Beaty in Richmond, Virginia. Her mother, Kathlyn Corinne (MacLean), was a drama teacher from Nova Scotia, Canada, and her father, Ira Owens Beaty, a professor of psychology and real estate agent, was from Virginia. Her brother, Warren Beatty
, was born on March 30, 1937. Her ancestry includes English and Scottish...
“ American attempting Chinese.
Can't remember the name of the film, but she was all 'Chinese'd up - atrocious in itself - and was just screechy fake Chinese... *shudder* ” - rowenna2000
Keanu Reeves, whose first name means "cool breeze over the mountains" in Hawaiian, was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1964, the son of English-born Patricia Taylor
, a showgirl, and American-born Samuel Nowlin Reeves, a geologist. Keanu's father was born in Hawaii, of British, Portuguese, Native Hawaiian...
“ American attempting... anything.
Okay, I'll give an example - Englishman Jonathan Harker in Dracula. Nooo. ” - rowenna2000
Heather Joan Graham was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Joan (Bransfield), a schoolteacher and children's book author, and James Graham, an FBI agent. She and her sister, actress Aimee Graham
, were raised by their strictly Catholic parents. They relocated often, as a result of their father's occupation...
“ American attempting London cockney in From Hell.
A very tricky accent as it's so easy to overdo and thereby create a caricature of your character. ” - rowenna2000
Russell Ira Crowe was born in Wellington, New Zealand, to Jocelyn Yvonne (Wemyss) and John Alexander Crowe, both of whom catered movie sets. His maternal grandfather, Stanley Wemyss, was a cinematographer. Crowe's recent ancestry includes Welsh (where his paternal grandfather was born, in Wrexham), English...
“ Australian attempting English, in Robin Hood.
I really enjoyed this film and I re-watch it, but his accent is all over the place. Sometimes midlander English, some Irish (by accident I'm sure), his own Australian... Distracting. ” - rowenna2000
Donald Frank Cheadle was born in Kansas City, Missouri on November 29, 1964. His childhood found him moving from city to city with his family: mother Bettye (North), a teacher, father Donald Frank Cheadle, Sr., a clinical psychologist, sister Dawn, and brother Colin. After graduating high school in Denver...
“ American attempting cockney London (Ocean's Thirteen).
Even he admitted it was terrible. ” - rowenna2000
Shannon Elizabeth was born in Houston, Texas, the daughter of a Syrian/Lebanese father and a mother who is English, Irish and German. When Shannon was in 3rd grade, her family moved to Waco, Texas, where most of her relatives already lived. As a girl, Shannon took dance lessons, including tap, ballet...
“ American attempting Czech/Slovakian in American Pie.
Not entirely sure she even listened to real accents of the area. ” - rowenna2000
“ Australian attempting English, as Kol in The Vampire Diaries. Though his character was born in America before it was settled by the Europeans. ” - rowenna2000
Natalie Portman was born Natalie Hershlag on June 9, 1981, in Jerusalem, Israel, to a Jewish family. She is the only child of Avner Hershlag, an Israeli-born doctor, and Shelley Stevens, an American-born artist (from Cincinnati, Ohio), who also acts as Natalie's agent. She left Israel for Washington...
“ Israeli-born, American-raised, attempting English in Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace. ” - rowenna2000
Elegant and handsome British actor Jeremy Irons was born in Cowes, Isle of Wight, a small island just off the south coast of England. He is the son of Barbara Anne Brereton (Sharpe) and Paul Dugan Irons, an accountant. Young Jeremy didn't prove very fond of figures. A typical islander, he used to go to mainland England only once a year...
“ Englishman attempting a German accent, and a German guy putting on an American accent! Both fail. (Die Hard with a Vengeance) ” - rowenna2000
Famke Beumer Janssen was born on November 5, 1964 in Amstelveen, Netherlands, and has two siblings, director Antoinette Beumer
and actress Marjolein Beumer
. She studied economics for a year at the University of Amsterdam. Moving to America in 1984, Famke modeled for Chanel in New York City. Later, taking a break from modeling...
“ Dutchwoman attempting... English? As Olivia Godfrey in Hemlock Grove.
Cringeworthy. ” - rowenna2000
As a child growing up in Benton Harbor, Michigan, Ernie Hudson wrote short stories, poems and songs, always thinking that his words might one day come to life on stage. After a short stint in the Marine Corps, he moved to Detroit where he became the resident playwright at Concept East, the oldest black theatre in the country...
“ American attempting English, as Munro in 'Congo'.
He starts off obviously American, then after the airport goes for some colonial 'upper class' accent for the rest of the film. Bizarre. ” - rowenna2000
Timothy James Curry was born on April 19, 1946 in Grappenhall, Cheshire, England. His mother, Maura Patricia (Langmead), was a school secretary, and his father, James Curry, was a Methodist Royal Navy chaplain. Curry studied Drama and English at Birmingham University, from which he graduated with Combined Honors...
“ Englishman attempting a Romanian accent as Herkemer Homolka, in 'Congo'.
May have been overdoing it on purpose, for comedic effect. ” - rowenna2000
Kevin Michael Costner was born on January 18, 1955 in Lynwood, California, the third child of Bill Costner
, a ditch digger and ultimately an electric line servicer for Southern California Edison, and Sharon Costner
(née Tedrick), a welfare worker. His older brother, Dan, was born in 1950. A middle brother died at birth in 1953...
“ American attempting English.
I only recently found out that he was actually trying to sound English during Prince of Thieves, seriously I didn't even notice he wasn't being American. Fail. ” - rowenna2000
“ Attempting the English accent for a (formerly) Viking vampire Finn on The Vampire Diaries.
A mixed bag this one. Named as British, raised in the Middle East by a Ukrainian father, I'm not sure what his actual accent is but his English sounds bizarre. ” - rowenna2000
Morgan was born in London, UK and spent his childhood with his family in Swansea, Wales, where he attended Morriston Comprehensive School before moving back to London in his late teens to study acting at the Central School of Speech and Drama. Upon graduation from Central School, Morgan was hired by...
“ Welshman attempting English (originally 'Viking'), as Klaus in The Vampire Diaries.
This is an odd one as I've heard him speak with his native Welsh accent and also with a regular English accent, but in the show it sounds really fake. He's attempting the posh English that Americans expect to hear (when a character isn't a gangster) but it sounds ridiculous. Not to mention pairing it with all those 'mates', which posh English types just don't say. ” - rowenna2000
“ American attempting African... Or was it Jamaican? ... For one line, there was even a definite Indian influence... as Grayson Barasa in 'Bones'.
All over the place. ” - rowenna2000
Charles Joel Nordström, known professionally as Joel Kinnaman, is a Swedish actor. He is best known for playing the lead role in the Swedish film Easy Money a role that earned him a Guldbagge Award in the "Best Actor" category - and for his role as Frank Wagner in the Johan Falk film series. He starred...
“ Swede/American attempting...
This is an odd one. The guy is half-American, half-Swedish, but when I watched The Darkest Hour (don't bother), my Swedish boyfriend did not believe the actor's Swedish accent! ” - rowenna2000