Archived Discussion

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// What Buffy characters? Anthony Head (Giles) was born in London and grew up in England.
//Probably Drusilla and Spike. I'm not sure about Drusilla's actress, but James Marsters is American, and Spike's British accent mutated once he started working more often with Head, heading further and further south through England. Interesting factoid on Buffy accents: Anthony Head's (and Giles') real accent is very much like the workingclass one that Spike affects (as seen in "Band Candy"); Spike's real accent is very much like the upperclass one Giles affects most of the time. So although they are both genuinely British, both characters are Fake Brits within the context of the show, using different accents to appear to be from social classes other than the ones they were born in. — Looney Toons
//Juliet Landau (Drusilla) was born in LA and spent a portion of her childhood in London. She has a memorable role using an American accent in Tim Burton's "Ed Wood." Her parents are Martin Landau and Barbara Bain of "Mission: Impossible" fame. — Grammar Cop

//What about Alexis Denisof (Wesley)? He studied in England but he's from Maryland. — Fantastica

Looney Toons: Oh, and before someone asks, I can support the citation of Dick Van Dyke's bad Cockney in song. The off-Broadway show "Forbidden Hollywood" parodied "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious"; the Dick Van Dyke impersonator deliberately did an awful accent, and the song specifically says, "My accent's as phony as phony can be."

Looney Toons: I have another animated example, but I know so little about it I can't even find it in the IMDB. A friend's daughter was watching a show on PBS at our place a few weeks back which featured a whole raft of CGI animals apparently populating a village in Ireland in the early 20th century. I was told by her mother that one character — a duck girl with a particularly heavy stage Irish accent — was done by one of the Powerpuff Girls' voice actresses. Unfortunately, I know neither program name nor character name, and cannot confirm and cite it here. Can anyone help?

Looney Toons: (weeks later) Found it, and I'll be adding it to the main entry in a moment.

Vis-a-vis the quote about Poppy Montgomery in Without a Trace being "a rare example of an Aussie doing American" - would you really call it rare? It seems to me it happens fairly often, eg Melissa George in Alias, Portia de Rossi in Ally McBeal and Arrested Development, Simon Baker in The Guardian, Julian McMahon in Charmed, Sarah Wynter in 24 - oh, and Anthony LaPaglia from Without a Trace.

//Noted and duly altered- Silent Hunter

:Australian actors appear often (well, from an Aussie POV it's "often") in American media, but rarely use their own accents. Most of the Aussie accents we hear from American TV programmes are affectations from American actors (or Poms who fooled people into thinking they were Aussie); the Aussies themselves are attempting (and usually succeeding) to sound American. While on the subject of Fake Americans, we also have the "now there's a real American!" case of Hugh Laurie in /House/ (compare with /Blackadder/).

I don't think Jason Cole on /Babylon 5/ is a good example; in interviews about the show, he has the same accent used in /B5/. Of course, given the dialogue he often spouted, it's not surprising people thought he was just pretending to be British.

Scifantasy I'm going to clean this up a mentioned above, Jason Carter's naturally British; the entire Without a Trace entry is probably better suited to Fake American, and I think I'll put in a comment about Giles's natural accent (as LT refers to at top).

// Chrome Newfie: Hey, long-time reader, first time writer. I don't know if anyone recalls this, but an excellent example of the trope being played straight *and* subverted, IMO, is John Hillerman in the role of Jonathan Quayle Higgins on Magnum, P.I.. Hillerman is actually a native Texan. In-show, he used his real accent a couple of times; most notably, he played his illegitimate half-brother "Bronco" Elmo Ziller (does this count as one of the existing twin tropes?) and this was repeated a couple of times later.

Gus: Sounds like stuff for the main entry, to me. Actually, There doesn't seem to be an entry for actor-playing-his-twin, other than as is incidental to Evil Twin, Doppelgänger, etc.

// Chrome Newfie: Hmm.... it's not really "evil" or a twin. It's closer to Identical Grandson, except with contemporary relatives who have no business looking THAT much like the character. Maybe call it "Incredible Family Resemblance", of which Identical Grandson is a subtype?

Gus: Sounds good to me, but you may want to float it in YKTTW, to get some input. Or not. It sometimes works to just put it in, and if a renaming cry arises, it gets renamed.

I don't know for sure that this is true, but I once heard that Dick van Dyke's accent in Mary Poppins wasn't entirely a result of incompetence. In the version I heard, he tried, and tried, and tried to get a good, realistic Cockney accent down... and failed, and failed, and failed. At long last he decided that since a bad Cockney accent was the only one he could do, he'd make his accent hilariously bad. Can anyone confirm or refute this?

Ununnilium: Should we move the fake non-Brit examples to their own entry? It doesn't quite fit with the rest, really.

Silent Hunter: Yeah, go ahead.

Arakhor: For the record, the Flying Dutchman is a famous ship name and really has nothing to do with the nationality of Bill Nighy!

Echidnite: Wow, Dick Van Dyke was supposed be be BRITISH in Mary Poppins? i never made a connection to it when I was a child, despite the fact that the movie was set in Britain. I should watch that movie again. I think I took that accent as 'the chimneysweep accent.'

The Kakapo : It always struck me as SO odd that Frodo and Sam in LOTR had different (bad, IMHO, particularly on Elijah's part) "English" accents. Weren't they practically next-door neighbors? Am I to believe that class-influenced accents were to be found in middle earth? </tangent>

Kosh_Naranek: The daughter in Sanctuary's supposed to be British?! I had figured she had picked up an American accent from living in whatever city they're in (I figured New York). Don't tell me this is supposed to take place in Great Britain..

kicking_k: I have a real desire to go through this and change every instance of "British accent" being used to mean "English accent". Could I? Possibly? Would it be horrible of me? I mean, I know that it is a commonly used phrase in American English, but there really really is no such thing as a generic British accent, and I think it's obfuscating the meaning in several places here.

This is clearly a rather subjective trope. I mean, I think Elijah Wood's hobbit accent is inoffensive, while Sean Astin's makes me cringe!