Top 5 Terrible Accents by Glaswegian Actors
Many, many, maaaaany actors have attempted to portray a Scottish accent on screen. They mostly fail miserably.
Mel Gibson in Braveheart, Robin Williams in Mrs Doubtfire, Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (arguably the previous two are deliberate, the movies even contain jokes alluding to the terrible accent) Christopher Eccleston’s in GI Joe was scene chewingly cringeworthy.
Who can forget Christopher Lambert in Highlander, A Frenchman in his first English speaking role playing a Scot whilst Sean Connery plays an Egyptian, Spaniard, dialect hybrid, Conquistador from the third century.
Mike Myres in Austin Powers playing Fat Ba@@###, is another example of dialect homicide. The overblown Shrek accent is pretty rough as well.
Funnily enough Myres is excellent at the Scottish accent, as you can see in So I Married an Axe Murderer.
Honourable mention to the late James Doohan’s Scotty from the original Star Trek TV series, who admitted he had never even heard a Scottish accent before being asked to attempt one on screen. True method acting there.
But here at GlasgowLiving, we are willing to put our hands up. Several of our more distinguished actors, many of them household names worldwide, have attempted an accent for the benefit of a television or movie audience and it has been traumatic.
How traumatic you ask? On par with the trauma caused by pulling a tooth out with pliers and a spoon.
Almost as if you were being bludgeoned in the ears with a dictionary.
After much debating and duelling in the office (there was even talk of a joust at one point) we came up with our ultimate list.
So here it is dear reader. Our list of the five worst Glasgow born actors attempts at an international accent.
No 5. Billy Connolly in The Last Samurai
Billy Connolly, The Big Yin. One of the most famous Scots exports of the last thirty years. Possibly the funniest man on the planet at one point. Star of Oscar nominated Mrs Brown, Bafta nominated for Best Supporting Actor, Bafta recognised for outstanding contribution. Countless other awards and nominations. Playing an Irish Sergeant to Tom Cruise’s troubled civil war veteran.
For some particular reason Scots actors have trouble mimicking (what they believe is an) Irish accent, But Connolly’s accent is, bad, bad, bad.
It’s as Tom Cruise was giving Billy Connolly dialect lessons between scenes (Check Tom Cruise in Far and Away, downright painful)
We’ve one question. If it takes us thirty seconds to spot the vowel gargling, awful accent, why couldn’t Director Edward Zwick?
Here’s a crazy thought? Why didn’t they just allow him to speak in his normal accent? They wouldn’t be too dissimilar, Billy Connolly wouldn’t sound like a pantomime “Oirish” man and an absolute classic film wouldn’t be reduced to a mere good movie.
Bad, but no way near the worst on the list, the movie still received multiple Oscar nominations and took a healthy $456 million dollars at the worldwide box office.
No 4. James McAvoy in Wanted
Led by a Russian trained, Kazakhstani born Director, famed for his Russian Vampire War film trilogy. Wanted was always going to be a wild and guilty pleasure.
Timur Bekmambetov’s first English based movie was a rollercoaster of insanity, Morgan Freeman, Angelina Jolie, and original General Zod, Terrence Stamp and our very own James McAvoy star in a movie, based on a comic book, written by Mark Millar. It is about a secret group of assassins who can read the future from a textile factories magical loom, which of course, is where their secret lair is.
A Kazakhstani born Russian in his first English movie, directing a Drumchapel born Scot, attempting an American accent, what could go wrong? Although to be honest considering it was James McAvoy’s first foray into the unknown waters of an American accent, it could have been worse. The movie went on to gross £341 million pounds at the worldwide box office on a budget of £75 million pounds.
On set you can be sure that young McAvoy would have had no problem with the blood, guns, death, maiming and ultra violence that took place during filming. With him growing up in Drumchapel, that was probably just an average Friday night.
No 3. Robert Carlyle in The World is Not Enough
Although considered an honour to be asked to play the big bad in a James Bond movie, no one would really like to be remembered for being part of arguably the worst James Bond movie ever made.
The World is Not Enough had the ingredients to be fantastic, Pierce Brosnan in prime 007 mode, Denise Richards regularly topped sexiest women polls (acting merit aside). John Cleese as Q, and Robert Carlyle as the big bad, impervious to pain after being shot in the head. But whyyyyy give him a cod Russian accent?
Robert Carlyle’s accent is so vaguely Russian its not even distinguishable. We’re not suggesting that he go out and learn Russian, (well only if he really wanted to). But at least put a bit of emphasis into the accent, a bit of passion into the part. He blatantly sounds like a Glasgwegian imitating every Russian accent he’s ever heard on screen.
As former KGB agent Renard, Carlyle spends a lot of time moping about saying vaguely Russian statements, whilst trying and failing to kill Bond.
For a man with an almost superhuman like ability to withstand pain, and a major grievance against Bond and the British Secret Service, the most exciting thing he does is hold hot coals to exhibit his inability to feel pain. And speaks a little exposition to continue the movie along, not forgetting, the Russian accent by way of Maryhill.
A nod must also go to Robbie Coltrane, for his fantastically bad accent in the Bond movies. The Rutherglen born thespian plays Valentin Zhukovsky, a morally questionable Russian, who got rich with the fall of the USSR.
Probably a poorer false accent in all fairness, but Coltrane looks as if he’s enjoying himself and deliberately hams it up. Carlyle on the other hand looks as if he jammed his cat in the door, leaving the house.
Making only £360 million on a budget of £135 million the movie was seen as a bit of a failure.
P.s Denise Richards playing a tattooed up, rocket scientist named Christmas Jones? NO!!!
No 2. John Hannah in The Hurricane
The only reason John Hannah never made number one, was our No.1 has made such a quantity of movies with cringeworthy bad accents, no one else could compare.
Anyway, John Hannah in the Hurricane with Denzel Washington i.e.The true story of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter.
In it, he and two other characters (Liev Schrieber and Debra Unger) take a young under privileged man from America to Canada (Its not kidnapping if it’s good intentions apparently) and try to give him an education.
In doing so they uncover a boxer who was wrongly convicted of a triple murder and set about trying to free him from jail.
John Hannah playing a sort of Rebus character with a Canadian accent is all manner of wrong, in it he comes out with a Scottish/Canadian amalgamation. We presume he was asked if he can “do” accents and he, really wanting the role, said “of course”.
He can’t, it’s rough and it probably annoys Canadians as much as it annoys Glaswegians. Similar to watching someone buy a big juicy steak and eat only the fat round the edges. Plain wrong. Still a decent movie though.
No 1. Gerard Butler in almost every movie ever
Why, Gerard? Why? You seem like a nice guy, you’ve worked hard to be respected and tried your best to avoid being typecast. You could probably bench press a small car, and you apparently have romanced several of Hollywood’s most desirable women. Kudos.
We have but one question? Why the need for the weird transatlantic accent?
In 300 you used the Glaswegian accent, and it added gravitas to the role, (and gave Scottish people something to say before they violently kicked someone down a well.)
It’s became a running joke, from The Ugly Truth, Olympus Has Fallen, The Bounty Hunter each accent, pretty bad, but not movie ruinous.
The worst accent, however has to be the attempt at an Irish accent in the movie adaptation of much loved P.s I Love You. It was as if he was attempting to rail road the movie single handedly. Daniel Day Lewis he is not we’re afraid.
Oscar winner Hilary Swank, who plays his bereaved love interest, must have slapped her agent, every night and then once again immediately after filming had finished.
The accent was so bad he actually apologised to the whole of Ireland for the ritual sacrifice of their native brogue.
So there you have it GlasgowLiving readers, that’s our list of five terrible accents from Glaswegian actors.
Have we missed any out? Leave a comment below.