The worst on-screen accents of all time

Acting requires years of training and some measure of natural talent. The ability to convincingly assume the role of someone else entirely is, at times, astonishing, but, sometimes, no amount of practice can instill a convincing foreign accent in even the best actors. Throughout the years, we've heard some good fake accents, but we've also heard more than our fair share of some bad and some ugly. Here are the worst attempts at sounding like someone else that unpleasantly tickled our eardrums.

Gerard Butler in The Bounty Hunter

Gerard Butler was born and raised in the Scottish Lowlands—something made evident the moment the Hollywood hunk opens his mouth. Unfortunately, he doesn't get to play Scottish characters as much as he'd like, making for some awkward attempts at sounding American.

While trying to imitate those of us across the pond in 2010's The Bounty Hunter, Butler really makes a concerrted efferrt to strretch those arrs. His foreign accent is even more evident when paired alongside all-American sweetheart Jennifer Aniston in the film. She pronounces "working" just like you'd expect, while Butler immediately follows it up with a "werrkinn'." It also appears to take some thought and strain for the actor to let out a simple "yep"—a word created to be anything but strenuous.

Despite having had upwards of 1,000 dialect sessions, Butler hasn't improved a great deal since 2003, but he's always practicing. "There came a point when I realized I have to just walk around speaking like an American," Butler told Today, "and my friends would be like, 'You sound like an idiot.' I said, 'It doesn't matter.'"

For what it's worth, his Irish accent in P.S. I Love You isn't much better.

Keanu Reeves in Bram Stoker's Dracula

Keanu Reeves is well-known for two on-screen styles: stoner and person without a single discernible emotion. As such, being British is simply not in the actor's repertoire—a fact known to anyone who's ever witnessed his critically panned performance as Jonathan Harker in Bram Stoker's Dracula. Not only was Reeves' acting not quite up to snuff, his attempt at sounding like a highly educated 19th-century English solicitor is downright laughable. (Honestly, if you haven't seen it, watch it and try not to laugh.)

Francis Ford Coppola blames himself for the famously poor performance in the 1992 drama. "We knew that it was tough for him to affect an English accent," the famous director told Entertainment Weekly. "He tried so hard. That was the problem, actually—he wanted to do it perfectly and in trying to do it perfectly it came off as stilted. I tried to get him to just relax with it and not do it so fastidiously. So maybe I wasn't as critical of him, but that's because I like him personally so much."

John Malkovich in Rounders

Rule No. 1 of how to fake a Russian accent: don't imitate Teddy "KGB."

Played by acting legend John Malkovich, the Russian gangster in 1998's Rounders easily has one of the most outrageous fake Russian accents ever heard on the big screen. Not only is it extra phlegmy, KGB's accent borders on the insane—and not even Malkovich thought it was any good. According to costar Matt Damon, the film crew burst into applause the first time Malkovich debuted his atrociously harsh accent, prompting the Emmy Award-winning actor to secretly confess to Damon that he's "a terrible actor."

Try Malkovich's Russian accent on for size the next time you're at the card table in Vegas. It might just make you harder to read.

Brad Pitt in The Devil's Own

Almost everyone knows what an Irish accent sounds like, but it's also incredibly difficult to fake, thanks to a unique gentle lilt, the absence of which instantly signifies a fraud. Just ask Brad Pitt.

The actor admitted in an interview with film critic Joe Leydon that accents have never been his strong suit, and that's evident in 1997's The Devil's Own. The Hollywood heartthrob noticeably fails to properly implement that patented Irish lilt, making his fresh-off-the-plane character sound like a fraud. Pitt even received extensive Northern-Irish dialect training from dialogue coach Brendan Gunn, which only goes to show how hard learning another language—even another English language—really is.

Still, Leydon was quick to praise Pitt's accent as "really solid." Irish newspapers disagreed.

Heather Graham in From Hell

Just because you once starred alongside Austin Powers doesn't mean you can pull off playing an actual British person—a fact proven by Heather Graham.

Perhaps the worst part of Graham's atrociously bad accent in From Hell is that she just can't seem to decide which version to use. There are at least seven distinct dialects in the United Kingdom alone, none of which Graham does convincingly well. As noted by Deseret News, Graham jumps from "quasi-Irish to cockney English to no discernible accent whatsoever" in the 2001 thriller, illustrating that the actress would probably have benefited from some more thorough dialogue training. In fact, sometimes it seems like she's barely even trying—sounding more like an actress from Hollywood than a prostitute from Whitechapel.

Dick van Dyke in Mary Poppins

Not even a spoonful of sugar can make Dick van Dyke's attempt at Cockney English more palatable. In fact, he himself has called his work in the 1964 classic "the most atrocious cockney accent in the history of cinema."

At the time, however, van Dyke didn't know how far off he really was. "Someone should have told me I needed to work on my Cockney accent," he told The Guardian. "Nearly everyone in the Mary Poppins cast was a Brit, but no one said anything. I was given an Irish coach whose Cockney was much better than mine. Years later I asked Julie [Andrews]: 'Why didn't you tell me?' She said it was because I was working so hard."

Still, van Dyke keeps a positive attitude about the whole thing, despite actual Brits never letting him forget it. "People in the U.K. love to rib me about my accent," he explained. "I will never live it down. They ask what part of England I was meant to be from, and I say it was a little shire in the north where most of the people were from Ohio."

Harrison Ford in K-19: The Widowmaker

With more than 70 film credits to his name—including iconic roles in the Star Wars and Indiana Jones series—Harrison Ford is one of the most recognizable and accomplished actors of the last half-decade, but even a notorious smuggler like Han Solo has trouble faking accents.

Ford plays main man and submarine captain Alexei Vostrikov in historical drama K-19: The Widowmaker, but he delivers an extremely questionable Russian accent in the 2002 film. With Cold War tensions reaching a fever pitch, it's impossible to imagine any full-blooded Russian taking orders from someone with such an unconvincing mastery of their mother tongue. Either the KGB needed some more lessons in counter-espionage or Ford simply commands respect in every language.

Of course, nitpicking Ford's atrocious accent is all in good fun. We are, after all, suspending our disbelief the moment we see the iconic actor wearing an ushanka, and like director Kathryn Bigelow once remarked: "If it was completely authentic, they would be speaking Russian."

Kevin Costner in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

1991's Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves wasn't exactly lauded when it first came out. Nor has it stood the test of time to its fans. But what many forget is that Kevin Costner delivers one of the least convincing British accents ever seen on film. In fact, we're not even sure he delivers a British accent at all. 

Last time we checked, Robin Hood hung out in the forests around Nottingham in the late middle ages. Costner's rendition of the benevolent thief, however, sounds more like a West Coast dude indulging in the SoCal sun.

Aidan Gillen in Game of Thrones

Whether you've been watching Game of Thrones from the beginning or recently binged-watched the entire series, you've probably noticed there's something fishy with Littlefinger—and we're not just talking about his dastardly deeds.

Throughout the long-running series, actor Aidan Gillen has changed his character's accent more times than there are countable numbers of Westerosi noble houses. Originally intending to "sound patriarchal, like John Huston in Chinatown or a bit Hammer Horror," Littlefinger switches to a distinctly different delivery by the time we get to the show's fourth season. The Dublin actor's accent has bounced around from "Oirish" to some kind of British to sounding a lot like Tom Hardy's Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. So what gives?

According to the actor, it's all intentional. "I think a little bit more has been made of that than it warrants," he told Den of Geek! "He's a player, he pretends he's other things all the time, so, you know, it's just not defined. And yeah, it has, it has changed with him. I have done that intentionally, but it's not radical."

Cameron Diaz in Gangs of New York

In a period piece about Englishmen and Irishmen battling it out in the streets, it helps to have authentic-sounding accents. In Gangs of New York, let's just say that Cameron Diaz doesn't help the situation.

While there are moments in the 2002 film when leading man Leonardo DiCaprio also seems to forget to flip his accent switch, Diaz rarely turns hers on—and when she does, it's not good. For example, when asked if she's up for a grand finale at the end of antagonist Bill the Butcher's knife-throwing performance, Diaz delivers an all-American and entirely lilt-less "maybe when you're throwing a little straighter." In less distinctly American-sounding moments, she still doesn't sound Irish. In fact, she doesn't sound much like a New Yorker either. Nor does she sound like she's from 1863. She pretty much just sounds like Cameron Diaz.

Angelina Jolie in Alexander

Angelina Jolie's accent in Alexander isn't just bad, it also doesn't fit with the rest of the movie's accents.

Colin Farrell plays the 2004 film's titular hero and, as noted by The Guardian, speaks with his native Irish accent. To make things jive, director Oliver Stone reportedly had Val Kilmer—playing Alexander's father, King Philip—speak with an Irish accent too. Not to be left out, Jared Leto also gave Alexander's friend, Hephaestion, an Irish lilt…because, apparently, all ancient Greeks spoke like people living 2,000 miles to the northwest. All ancient Greeks, that is, except Alexander's mother, Olympia. For some bizarre reason, Jolie speaks like a modern-day Russian mafia wife who owns an Italian laundromat in Cyprus.

From the posh-English of Lara Croft to the Cuban-French of Mariane Pearl, Jolie has notably pulled off some decent accents in her career. However, her "ancient Greek" in Alexander is best left forgotten.

Christopher Lambert in Highlander

What happens when a French-American actor plays an immortal Scottish swordsman? An atrocious take on the Scottish dialect, that's what.

Christopher Lambert's fake Scottish accent in 1986's Highlander is undoubtedly one of the worst to ever hit the big screen—far worse than Mel Gibson's noble attempt in Braveheart. Most of the time, Lambert barely sounds Scottish at all. Adding insult to injury is the fact that actual Scottish actor Sean Connery plays an Egyptian/Spaniard who sounds neither Egyptian nor Spanish. He does, however, sound a lot like Sean Connery.

Who needs accents when you have The Macleod Longsword, anyway?