Trying to nail down an accent that you’re not familiar with or that you weren’t exposed to for a good portion of your life is pretty difficult for a lot of people since it requires more than mimicry at times, and really does take a bit of studying to make certain that one understands the dialect and even the history of the language to make it passable. There are some accents that are a little easier since they involve a more relaxed style of speech. But it’s not hard to listen to a movie and figure out who has the better use of an accent and who is trying their best but perhaps didn’t get it down pat before filming started. Learning a language is tough enough, but learning how to incorporate an accent into a language that’s already spoken is just as bad, if not worse, since an accent can appear to be smooth, crisp, and easy to fall into, or it can become not unlike an ill-fitting garment that people notice right away since it just doesn’t go with the character they’re trying to portray. But some folks are simply better at this type of thing than others. Here are five of the best actors when it comes to using accents in movies.
5. Cliff Curtis – Training Day
The chances are good that you’ve seen Cliff Curtis in more than one location be it on TV or in the movies, but he’s been able to nail one accent after another in every role he’s taken since being from New Zealand he does speak with his own native accent. But the guy can take on just about any accent he needs in order to make the role work, and in Training Day he comes off as very convincing when he plays the role of Smiley. It’s not hard to believe that the character would have taken Jake’s head off if not for the fact that he was still carrying the wallet he’d picked up from an altercation earlier in the day.
4. Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight
Heath Ledger was already a well-known and very skilled actor by the time he came to take on the role of the Joker in The Dark Knight, but he stepped things up in such a big way that a lot of people simply couldn’t believe it in this movie. I’ll admit I groaned when Batman Begins ended with the calling card that belonged to the Joker since it didn’t feel like anyone could top Jack Nicholson at that point. But when Ledger came in and started to talk it was kind of obvious that expectations were shattered and people were intent on listening even if the character was a little creepier than usual.
3. Gary Oldman – Air Force One
Gary Oldman is another actor that is able to take on multiple accents and make them work in a way that suggests he actually came from the part of the world his character hails from. In this movie, some might want to disagree and state that he’s passable but not great. But the truth is that some actors are perfectly capable of taking on the role of a person that’s from a different part of the world, and Oldman does it just fine as he takes command of Air Force One and employs his tried but true psychotic tendencies when it comes to looking menacing and being the kind of guy that’s hard to predict.
2. Daniel Day-Lewis – Gangs of New York
It’s very easy to say that there aren’t a lot of people in Hollywood that have gone to the same lengths for a role as Daniel Day-Lewis has, since the guy has stayed in character for a lot of his movies as much as he possibly could. For Gangs of New York, he wanted to do the same thing but had to relent due to the environment in which the movie was taking place since otherwise he would have grown quite ill and been unable to turn in such a great performance. His time as the fictional character of Bill Cutting was still one of the greatest parts of the movie since he’s one of the only bad guys that people might be able to fully understand when it comes to his motivations, apart from the overt racism he displays.
1. Brad Pitt – Snatch
There are plenty of people who can understand Mickey in this movie if they listen closely enough, but for a lot of folks, the subtitles were a blessing since Pitt took the accent to the edge and pushed it over. This fast-talking character wasn’t stupid by any means, but he wasn’t the type that wanted much other than the life he was used to. When he was drawn into the world of unlicensed boxing he kind of bulled his way through it while making a bundle of money for his people in the process.
Accents aren’t impossible to learn, but they can be tough.