It takes a lot of skill for an actor to master a foreign accent. But when they pull it off, like Heath Ledger did as a cowboy in Brokeback Mountain or Gwyneth Paltrow as a Brit in Sliding Doors, it's a huge success. When they fail, however, it can ruin the movie and their reputation. Some actors actually become famous for their botched dialects, like Keanu Reeves in Bram Stoker's Dracula. Others learn their lesson and never try again—like Tom Cruise, who, probably due to his mangled Irish lilt in Far and Away, was the only actor on the set of Valkyrie who didn't try to sound German. Regardless of the outcome of their attempts, here are our top 12 picks for worst on-screen accents. [via womansday]
1. Keanu Reeves in Bram Stoker's Dracula (British)
How drunk off his own Diamond Collection Pinot Noir was Francis Ford Coppola when he thought, "You know Ted, from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure? I want him to play prim Englishman Jonathan Harker." Up until this movie, Reeves' lines were limited to "whoa" and "dude," so it's unclear why casting directors thought he could convincingly play an English gentleman.
2. Tom Cruise & Nicole Kidman in Far and Away (Irish)
Though a pitch-perfect Irish accent is notoriously difficult to master, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman tie for last place for their sad attempts to sound Irish in Far and Away. The then-real-life-couple costarred as Irish immigrants seeking fortune in 1890s America. We're not being glib, Tom, but we think you two should have spent more time with a linguist.
3. James Van Der Beek in Varsity Blues (Texan)
"I don't want your advice!" must’ve been what James Van Der Beek screamed at his dialect coach while preparing for his role as star quarterback Jonathon "Mox" Moxon in Varsity Blues. The actor formerly known as Dawson Leery delivered just about all of his lines with a seriously butchered Texas drawl.
4. Jessica Simpson in The Dukes of Hazzard (Southern)
Maybe it was the mental strain of having to memorize lines, or perhaps it was lightheadedness from her strict diet for the role, but something happened here to make poor Jessica Simpson forget she actually is from the South and didn't need to put on a cartoonish twang to play the part of Daisy Duke.
5. Nicolas Cage in Con Air (Southern)
The only thing faker than Nicolas Cage's hair extensions in action flick Con Air? His bizarre hillbilly twang. Though this isn't the first time Cage has mangled an on-camera accent (see also: Captain Corelli's Mandolin), it's our favorite, because it turned this adrenaline-filled action flick into a comedy.
6. Gerard Butler in The Bounty Hunter (American)
Why do bad things keep happening to Jennifer Aniston? For example, her costar Gerard Butler's warbling American accent in The Bounty Hunter. Maybe he was so distracted by her presence (she was rumored to be his girlfriend at the time) that he forgot he was supposed to be American.
7. Renée Zellweger in Cold Mountain (Southern)
Oddly enough, Renée Zellweger, who hails from Texas, seemed to really struggle with capturing a realistic Southern accent for her role as Ruby Thewes in the Civil War drama Cold Mountain. Perhaps she was trying to make up for costar Nicole Kidman's barely-there accent, but she definitely went overboard with her oddly enunciated mash-up of vowels and consonants.
8. Julia Roberts in Mary Reilly (Irish)
An unfortunate side effect of attempting the challenging Irish accent is the leprechaun factor. And no one does a better job of showing us the dangers of falling into Lucky Charms territory than Julia Roberts in Mary Reilly. Playing a maid who falls for her boss, Dr. Jekyll, Roberts proves there is something scarier than a man with a split personality.
9. Jon Voight in Anaconda (Spanish)
Here's something to think about: Jon Voight's Spanish accent in Anaconda is actually the most absurd part of a movie about giant snakes eating J. Lo and Ice Cube. The film's tag line "You can't scream if you can't breathe" prompts the question: If you can't breathe, how can you manage to garble a Paraguayan accent so much?
10. Angelia Jolie in Alexander (Greek)
Despite the fact that no one in the modern world has heard an Ancient Greek accent, we still have to agree that Angelina Jolie's mangled Russian-sounding delivery is way off. Also, congrats to her and her father for showing us that bad accents run in the family!
11. Harrison Ford in K19: The Widowmaker (Russian)
Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow's box office flop K-19: The Widowmaker chronicles the launch of the Soviet Union's first ballistic missile nuclear submarine. Though audiences are led to believe the ship eventually explodes due to a nuclear meltdown, we know the real reason the ship sinks: No one on board can stand to listen to Harrison Ford's distractingly awful Russian accent as ship captain Alexei Vostrikov.
12. Ewan McGregor in Black Hawk Down (American)
Scottish actor Ewan McGregor gave a Yankee accent a spin in the war film Black Hawk Down. As specialist John "Grimsey" Grimes, McGregor seems to have difficulty mastering the cadence of U.S.-born speakers. Perhaps costars and fellow non-Americans Eric Bana and Orlando Bloom should’ve shared their secrets.