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Top 10 Actors Who Can Pull Off Foreign Accents

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by George Cimurt These actors are the vocal chameleons of the big and small screens. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 actors who can pull off foreign accents. For this list, we’re looking at male actors who have shown an incredible command of accents other than their natural one, be it American, British, or otherwise. This extends to different regional accents and dialects, even if those come from their home country. Special thanks to our users CoreyMcc11, Acacia, Emily Turner, James Gibson, LordJeffries, nicogarza100, rhoadesc, PersonWhoIsntYourMot and CriticalSlide for submitting the idea through our Suggest Tool at WatchMojo.comSuggest
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Script written by George Cimurt

Top 10 Actors Who Can Pull Off Foreign Accents


These actors are the vocal chameleons of the big and small screens. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 actors who can pull off foreign accents.

For this list, we’re looking at male actors who have shown an incredible command of accents other than their natural one, be it American, British, or otherwise. This extends to different regional accents and dialects, even if those come from their home country.

#10: Peter Sellers

An English actor like no other, Sellers’ most famous characters have ironically been non-English ones. He mastered the look and accent of an Indian in “The Party,” pulled off the loveable French accent with the clumsy inspector Jacques Clouseau in “The Pink Panther” series, and took on three characters and three accents in the unforgettable war-comedy “Dr. Strangelove.” A man of mystery, whose failed personal relationships and insecurities were as numerous as the accents he learned, his memorable foreign characters still live on to this day.

#9: Sacha Baron Cohen

Born in West London, England, Baron Cohen quickly gained fame as a comedian, actor, and a writer, but almost completely for characters diametrically different from his actual persona. Some of his most famous have included Borat, the journalist from Kazakhstan, Bruno, the flamboyant Austrian fashion show presenter, and Admiral General Aladeen in “The Dictator,” a 2012 comedy in which he fakes an Arabic accent. Whether he’s playing a man or an animated lemur, unless his name was in the credits, we’d never guess that it’s actually him.

#8: Hugh Jackman

Though this Australian hunk has played characters from the land down under, most obviously and notably for “Australia” in 2008, his biggest successes and box office hits have been playing American characters. His first massive hit was in 2000 portraying the mutant Wolverine in “X-Men,” and although an unknown before the superhero film, his became a household name overnight. Sequels in the X-Men franchise as well as stand-alone films like “Real Steel” and “The Prestige” showed that his place in American cinema won’t disappear anytime soon.

#7: Robert Downey, Jr.

Born in Manhattan, New York, Downey’s ability to disguise himself both physically and vocally has proved to be one of his greatest assets. His first Oscar-nominated performance was actually as the British actor and filmmaker Charlie Chaplin. As his film career continued, he became proficient at the Australian accent, displaying it notably first for the journalist Wayne Gale in “Natural Born Killers” and later as Kirk Lazarus in “Tropic Thunder,” though his African-American manner of speaking in the 2008 film is even more memorable.

#6: Colin Farrell

The Dublin-born actor has showed off his Irish lilt in films such as “Ondine” and “In Bruges,” many but American moviegoers were surprised to learn of his heritage due to his flawless American inflection. His command of the accent has been shown time and again in action films like “Minority Report,” “Total Recall,” and “Miami Vice.” But whether he’s holding us at the edge of our seat or making us laugh with comedy roles like Bobby Pellitt in “Horrible Bosses,” one thing’s for sure: As far as we’re concerned, for the length of the film, he is American.

#5: Viggo Mortensen

Born in New York City, New York, Mortensen probably never guessed starting out that some of his most famous roles would be playing non-Americans. And though his role in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy was an accented one and probably his most famous, perhaps his greatest accented performance was his Oscar-nominated role as Nikolai Luzhin, a member of the Russian Mafia in 2007’s “Eastern Promises.” Mortensen further demonstrated that his expertise at accents was not limited, wowing us with his spot-on British accent with hints of Austrian for Sigmund Freud in “A Dangerous Method” and his gruff southern accent in “Hidalgo.”

#4: Christian Bale

This hugely talented and successful actor was born in Wales, spent his childhood in England and Portugal, and eventually moved to the U.S. in his teens. It may be this exposure to different cultures that equipped him to take on non-British roles, such as his internationally-acclaimed role as Batman in “The Dark Knight” trilogy, with such ease. Come on, you know an English actor is good when directors choose him for films like “American Hustle” and “American Psycho” over actual, y’know, Americans!

#3: Leonardo DiCaprio

Much can be said about the talent of this multiple Oscar-nominated actor, but his skills in the accent department are highly regarded. No matter what part of the United States his characters may come from, he gets the inflection every time: whether it’s for Frank Abagnale in “Catch Me If You Can” or Jordan Belfort in “The Wolf of Wall Street.” DiCaprio has even gone non-domestic for his characters, portraying a white Zimbabwean in “Blood Diamond” and an Irish-born New Yorker in “Gangs of New York” to great effect.

#2: Daniel Day-Lewis

The winner of more Oscars for Best Actor than any other actor ever, it’s no surprise that he has also made our list for his excellent grasp of various accents. Though born in London, England, some of Day-Lewis’ best performances have been of non-English characters, including Abraham Lincoln in “Lincoln” and Daniel Plainview in “There Will Be Blood.” Whether he’s playing a protagonist, as in “The Last of the Mohicans,” or an antagonist, such as in “Gangs of New York,” there can be no denying that Day-Lewis can be whatever he chooses to be.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Heath Ledger
- Brad Pitt
- Idris Elba
- Michael Fassbender
- Alan Cumming

#1: Gary Oldman

We dare you to find an accent that Oldman cannot do. In his long and storied career, the English actor has played a Russian loyalist in “Air Force One,” an American police officer “The Dark Knight” trilogy, a Transylvanian vampire in “Bram Stoker’s Dracula”—even a dreadlocked, racially mixed-up villain in “True Romance.” In fact, with so many accents in his repertoire, he’s recently claimed to have lost his original accent, needing coaching to get it back. Regardless of that, the fact is that you never quite know what to expect when walking into an Oldman movie—and that’s the way we like it.

Do you agree with our list? Which actor do you think has the best command of foreign accents? For more great top 10s, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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