When Brooklyn-born Anne Hathaway was cast in the very British female leading role of Lone Sherfig’s adaptation of the bestselling novel One Day, howls of objection were heard on both sides of the Atlantic. How dare they cast a Yank as Emma Morley? Then again, similar cries were sounded when Renee Zellweger was cast as Bridget Jones, and she ended up being, um, spot on (Brits say that, right?). But when One Day’s trailer hit a couple of months back, skepticism returned; Hathaway’s a good actress, but (to most ears, anyway) that is not a terribly good British accent. That said, the Bad Accent Hall of Fame is a very crowded place, and hers is nowhere near the top; here are our picks for the ten spottiest dialect artists in cinema history.
Kevin Costner: Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves (1991), Thirteen Days (2000), The Company Men (2010)
The crown for king of bad movie accents is a hotly contested one, but we’ve got to give the nod to Costner, whose come-and-go-like-the-wind “British accent” in 1991’s woefully misbegotten Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves pops up in pretty much any conversation on problematic dialects. But that’s not his only memorable misstep in the field. His Texas accent in A Perfect World and his New Orleans one in JFK were both a kind of vague, all-purpose Southern drawl — not terribly accurate, but passable and not distracting. The same can’t be said for his ear-splitting Massachusetts dialect in the otherwise-excellent Kennedy drama Thirteen Days, which has all the nuance of a Catskills comic doing a bad JFK (“This is ya repaaaht caaaaahd!”); though lack of prep time has always been his excuse for his half-assed vocal work in Robin Hood, it was good to see that in the ten years between Thirteen Days and his second stab at a Northeastern accent, in last year’s Company Men, he still hadn’t bothered to learn how it was done.