10 Most Cringe-Worthy Fake Accents in Movie History

10 Most Cringe-Worthy Fake Accents in Movie History
Image credit: Legion-Media

Yes, we did. We went after Dick Van Dyke.

1. Mary Poppins (1964) – Dick Van Dyke

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Sorry, but we have to start with a classic. Dick Van Dyke's performance as Bert in Mary Poppins is legendary for all the wrong reasons. The movie is practically perfect in every way, except for that Cockney accent. The attempt at sounding like a Londoner came off as an indiscernible mix of Australian, American, and Irish, with a splash of who-knows-what. The accent was so far off the mark that it became an amusing side show, providing an unintentional comedic element to this beloved film.

2. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) – Kevin Costner

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Kevin Costner's attempt at an English accent in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is probably one of the most famously mocked accents in cinema. It was as if he dipped his toe in the British waters, then decided it was too cold and promptly retreated back to his American accent. This fluctuating accent adds a strange layer to the film, distracting viewers from the plot and shifting the focus to Costner's vocal chords. His accent, or lack thereof, is an amusing low point in an otherwise high-stakes adventure movie.

3. K-19: The Widowmaker (2002) – Harrison Ford

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Even Indiana Jones himself isn't immune to bad accent syndrome. In K-19: The Widowmaker, Ford plays a Russian submarine captain, and his Russian accent is... interesting. It was as if his vocal cords were in a tug-of-war between his classic Indiana Jones American accent and a questionable Russian accent. It's unfortunate because the film is a tense, well-paced drama, but the accent blunders make it difficult to fully immerse in the story.

4. The Conqueror (1956) – John Wayne

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This one's a doozy. John Wayne, famous for his roles as a cowboy in numerous westerns, was cast as Genghis Khan in The Conqueror. Let that sink in for a moment. It's hard to decide which is more amusing, Wayne's attempt at portraying the infamous Mongolian ruler or his effort to replace his classic cowboy drawl with what was supposed to be an Asian accent. The film is a historical mishap, and Wayne's accent adds an extra layer of cringe to the narrative.

5. Van Helsing (2004) – Kate Beckinsale

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Kate Beckinsale's accent as Anna Valerious in Van Helsing is memorable for all the wrong reasons. Despite being British herself, Beckinsale's attempt at an Eastern European accent was inconsistent and distracting. The accent seemed to fluctuate throughout the movie, taking viewers on an unintentional vocal rollercoaster. Instead of focusing on the gothic horror tale, one might find themselves trying to pinpoint where exactly in Eastern Europe Anna was supposed to be from.

6. Out of Africa (1985) – Robert Redford

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In Out of Africa, Robert Redford's character, Denys Finch Hatton, is supposed to be a British aristocrat. However, Redford's accent is distinctly American throughout the film. The film tells the story of Karen Blixen, a Danish woman who runs a plantation in Kenya, and her relationship with Hatton, a big-game hunter. The lush landscapes and sweeping romantic plot of the film are contrasted sharply by Redford's misplaced American accent. His inconsistent accent work becomes a distraction in an otherwise beautifully told tale of love and loss.

7. Aloha (2015) – Emma Stone

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Aloha is a romantic comedy-drama that revolves around a military contractor who falls in love with an Air Force watchdog while also reconnecting with a lost love. Emma Stone, who plays Captain Allison Ng, raised a few eyebrows with her characterization.

Allison is supposed to be of Hawaiian-Chinese-Swedish descent, and Stone's attempt at a local Hawaiian accent comes off as not just unconvincing, but also confusing for the plot. The miscasting and the failed accent add to the list of this movie's shortcomings, leading to a fair amount of viewer disappointment and distracting from the storyline.

8. The Devil's Own (1997) – Brad Pitt

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Brad Pitt is usually known for his charm, but his role as Frankie McGuire/Rory Devaney, an IRA soldier in The Devil's Own, is most remembered for his infamously bad Irish accent. The thriller revolves around the IRA soldier who goes to New York to buy weapons, and Pitt's wavering accent made the plot less believable. The struggle between the American and Irish sounds is so evident that it's hard not to wince, and it somewhat mars an otherwise intense and captivating plot.

9. Blood Diamond (2006) – Leonardo DiCaprio

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In Blood Diamond, DiCaprio plays Danny Archer, a diamond smuggler, who promises a fisherman to help find his family in exchange for a rare diamond. DiCaprio's South African accent, however, swings between Australian and something vaguely British, which interferes with the viewer's immersion in this thrilling tale. While DiCaprio's performance is intense and earnest, his accent somewhat dilutes the emotional weight of the narrative, resulting in an interesting but ultimately discordant viewing experience.

10. Patriot Games (1992) – Harrison Ford

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Harrison Ford strikes again, this time in Patriot Games, where he plays Jack Ryan, an ex-Marine turned history professor. When his family is targeted by an Irish faction of the IRA, Ryan gets drawn back into action. Unfortunately, Ford's attempt at an Irish accent is less than successful. This, coupled with an American accent that reappears at odd moments, makes the plot harder to follow. The inconsistency of the accent distracts from the thrilling cat-and-mouse game at the heart of the film, making the viewing experience a tad frustrating.