->''"I never get the girl. I always get the country."''
-->-- Attributed to '''Creator/AnthonyQuinn'''

Do you know Creator/PeterStormare? Yes, you do. He's that Swedish actor who is so versatile that he can - and will - play ''any'' nationality, even his own, as long as it's non-Anglo-Saxon and therefore [[FunnyForeigner foreign]]. FakeNationality is his bread and butter but it's not his defining quality as he could perfectly well play a Swede and still fall under this.

This refers to casting practice, and in the case of TropeCodifier Peter Stormare it has even achieved the status of CastingGag. It refers to "international" or "ethnic" - at any rate not American or British - actors who are considered to somehow look or be able to act so vaguely but conspicuously foreign that they can be used for any nationality. It's AsLongAsItSoundsForeign and GratuitousForeignLanguage applied to casting. However, ButNotTooForeign is often in effect because you'll want someone who speaks good English (even though intentionally accented) and rather panders to [[ViewersAreMorons viewers' expectations]] than give an accurate portrayal of a specific ethnic identity which also means that the character's background might be very vague as long as it's foreign. Note that PlaysGreatEthnics can have the same UnfortunateImplications as MistakenNationality.

In many cases - particularly if the actor is British - these types don't even have to ''look'' a certain way. They [[JustAStupidAccent study the accent]] and [[CultureEqualsCostume dress in ethnic clothing]], and use theatrical makeup. In such cases, the hiring studio will often be criticized for effectively stealing the role from other performers who actually belong to the ethnic group and are offered acting roles less frequently than white actors; others state that this defeats the purpose of acting, where the goal is to portray someone other than yourself.

Often these actors were originally successful abroad before they were discovered by Hollywood. Might result in ClassicallyTrainedExtra. Some have achieved HeyItsThatGuy status. May be played with by having the character himself be [[NonSpecificallyForeign of ambiguous heritage]] or [[AmbiguouslyBrown appearance]]. Sometimes they will make use of {{Blackface}}, {{Yellowface}}, or {{Brownface}}.

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!!Examples:

* [[InvokedTrope Invoked]] in ''Series/TheXFiles'' when one of TheMenInBlack claims that Saddam Hussein is in fact a character actor with a background in dinner theater who "[[TropeNamer plays great ethnics]]".
* Swedish actor Creator/PeterStormare has played a German "nihilist" in ''TheBigLebowski'', a Russian cosmonaut in ''Film/{{Armageddon}}'', an Italian mercenary in ''Film/TheBrothersGrimm'', a drunken and violent Frenchman in ''Film/{{Chocolat}}'', a drug lord from a fictional Eastern European nation in ''Series/{{Arrow}}'' - the list goes on.
* Creator/ChristopherWalken is of German and Scottish descent, and quite pale-skinned. However, he was born in Queens and sounds like it, so due to the BigApplesauce trope he is often cast as a character of just about every white ethnicity to be found on America's Eastern Seaboard, including a Russian-American steelworker in ''TheDeerHunter'' (for which he won an Academy Award) and various Italian-Americans.
* Creator/MadsMikkelsen is Danish, but only when in Denmark. His perceived indeterminate ethnicity fits his role in ''Film/CasinoRoyale'' as Le Chiffre is stateless according to Creator/IanFleming and "probably a mixture of Mediterranean with Prussian or Polish strains" and apparently has "some Jewish blood". In the film, MI6 believes him to be Albanian. He plays the Lithuanian Hannibal Lecter in the 2013 NBC series ''Series/{{Hannibal}}'', Greek Draco in the 2010 ''Film/ClashOfTheTitans'' film, Sarmatian (Iranian) Tristan in 2004's ''Film/KingArthur'', and a mysterious Viking (that is, maybe a Dane) in ''Film/ValhallaRising''.
* Hungarian-born Creator/PeterLorre played Le Chiffre, too. [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Lorre His article in the other wiki]] has the phrase "frequently typecast as a sinister foreigner" in the first sentence.
* Born in Casablanca to Spanish parents, JeanReno is successful in both European cinema and Hollywood, appearing as French, Armenian, Russian, Italian, Polish, German...
* Yugoslavian[[note]]She's ethnically Serbian, but is from Croatian capital of Zagreb, which she left when the [[BalkanizeMe known unpleasantries]] started.[[/note]] actress Mira Furlan plays a Frenchwoman on ''{{Lost}}''. Her cute accent was a plus in her role as the [[Series/BabylonFive Minbari ambassador Delenn]].
* Italian actor Giancarlo Giannini covers all countries where a Romance language is spoken, preferably Mediterranean. And also the [[{{Dune}} Padishah-Emperor]].
* Creator/AlfredMolina (Italian and Spanish heritage) does all those plus Russian, Middle Eastern, Mexican and [[Film/RaidersOfTheLostArk Peruvian]] - when not portraying Americans or Brits.
* The Jewish American-British Creator/AndrewGarfield is possibly one of these. He's well-known for playing the Brazilian Jew Eduardo Saverin in ''Film/TheSocialNetwork'', but has also played standard-issue Brits and Americans in movies like ''Film/TheImaginariumOfDoctorParnassus'' and ''Film/TheAmazingSpiderMan''. Also, he is slated to star in a biopic of the Hungarian Jewish, Spanish war photographer, Robert Capa.
* Tony Shalhoub was born in Wisconsin but has a Lebanese background. Hollywood doesn't need too many Lebanese characters so why not branch out to Italian characters when you have the looks? Often, his characters' ethnic backgrounds are intentionally vague - but definitely somewhat foreign ([[LampshadeHanging lampshaded]] in ''Film/GalaxyQuest''). [[{{Monk}} Adrian Monk]] is of Welsh ancestry, in case you wondered. For a more complete breakdown of Shalhoub's roles see HeyItsThatGuy.
* Italian-American JohnTurturro is probably more well known for his various portrayals of Hispanics (''Film/TheBigLebowski'', ''CollateralDamage'', ''MrDeeds''), and Jews(''BartonFink'', ''QuizShow'', ''MillersCrossing'') than when he actually plays Italians (mostly in Creator/SpikeLee movies).
* Egyptian Omar Sharif is a classic example. He is so well established as an international actor that nobody questions his ability to play practically any nationality. His most famous role is in ''Film/DoctorZhivago'' as the titular ''[[FakeRussian Russian]]''.
* Sudanese-English actor Siddig El Tahir El Fadil El Siddig Abderrahman Mohammed Ahmed Abdel Karim El Mahdi (better known as [[Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine Alexander Siddig]]) is a preferred choice for characters from anywhere in the Arabic world, especially if you don't want a [[AcceptableEthnicTargets terrorist]]. He also played the Carthaginian Hannibal.
* Rade Serbedzija, the actor who played Boris the Blade in ''{{Snatch}}'', is Croatian, but he's the go-to guy for characters from anywhere in Eastern Europe, whether they're evil or not.
* [[http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0888937/ Titos Vandis]], Greek, who played (among others) three unrelated characters of varying ethnicities on ''BarneyMiller'', none of whom were Greek; there was a Puerto Rican, a [[UsefulNotes/{{Romani}} Gypsy]], and another one.
* HeyItsThatGuy-guy Udo Kier is from Germany. Based on Hollywood's use of him, you'd think his passport states "Evil Foreigner" as his nationality.
* Back in the days when YellowFace was still considered apropos, Henry Silva, a man of Spanish and Italian descent whose ethnicity, he jokes, had been "assumed to be everything" made a career playing YellowPeril characters in movies like ''TheManchurianCandidate'' and whatever other ethnic heavy the studios wanted him to.
* London-born actor Ritchie Coster (whose ethnic origins are Dutch) is dark haired, dark eyed, and has spent his career playing non-English characters of various types. He was The Chechen (a Chechen, naturally) in ''Film/TheDarkKnight'', Mister Zoric (a Hungarian) in ''LetMeIn'', Simon Matic (a Bulgarian) in ''LawAndOrder: Criminal Intent'', Joey Sadano (an Italian) in ''American Gangster'', Jorgan Stern (a Pole) in ''LawAndOrder'', Fazal (a Saudi Arabian) in ''Traffic'', Nicolai Trepov (a Russian) in ''Hack'', and the list goes on and on and on. One can count the number of times he's played English characters on both hands.
* Indian-born American actor Erick Avari has made a career out of this: he's played British characters, Arab characters (even an ''alien'' arab in the original ''Film/{{Stargate}}'' movie and the [[Series/StargateSG1 follow-up TV show]]), Egyptians, Russians, Spaniards, and so on. He's even occasionally played the odd American here or there. TheOtherWiki, in point of fact, says that he's "portrayed representatives of more than 24 different nationalities".
* [[http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0193295/ Cliff Curtis]], a Maori from New Zealand, has played characters who are Latin American from multiple countries, Egyptian, Saudi Arabian, Iraqi, Spanish and Chechen in addition to Maori.
* Swedish-born actress Creator/LenaOlin has played a Frenchwoman in ''Film/{{Chocolat}}'' (where, [[IronyAsSheIsCast funnily enough]], she's ''married'' to Peter Stormare's character) and ''Film/{{Casanova}}'', a German in ''Literature/TheReader'', an Egyptian in ''Film/QueenOfTheDamned'', a Czech woman in ''The Unbearable Lightness of Being'', and Russians in ''Series/{{Alias}}'' and ''RomeoIsBleeding''
* Creator/AnthonyQuinn played Greeks, Portuguese, Arabs, Ukranians, Jews, Englishmen, Italians, Latin Americans, Eskimos, and just about everything else you could possibly think of. In reality, he was a Mexican with significant Irish ancestry (hence the name).
* Over his long and illustrious career, the Welsh AnthonyHopkins has portrayed Brits, Spaniards, New Zealanders, Americans, Greeks, Germans, and even a black guy... ''twice''.
* Taika Waititi is Maori, but has played Indians, Romany, Vietnamese, and [[{{Film/GreenLantern}} Inuit]].
* Naveen Andrews is mostly known for playing an Iraqi in ''{{Lost}}'' and an unspecific-Middle Eastern president in ''Series/TwentyFour''. Before, he did mostly his actual Indian ethnicity (such as ''TheEnglishPatient''), and also an African in ''MightyJoeYoung''.
* ChristopherLee, though British-born, has played all sorts of foreigners (including Arabs and Chinese, with the possible zenith being [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad_Ali_Jinnah Jinnah]], the founder of Pakistan). His facility with languages and part-Italian ancestry may be a factor.
* OrsonWelles, an American of Scots-Irish ancestry, played a wide variety of Americans, Brits, Italians, Frenchmen, Slavs, Africans, and Hebrews over his life. This was aided by the fact that he absolutely ''loved'' using [[ManOfAThousandFaces makeup]].
* Pretty common on ''SaturdayNightLive'', due to the show's extremely limited pool of talent and relative homogeneity. A few examples:
** Fred Armisen plays characters of nearly every race on ''SaturdayNightLive'', most notably BarackObama. He's half Venezuelan, one-quarter German, and one-quarter Japanese. A ''ParksAndRecreation'' episode in which he played a Venezuelan delegate is probably the closest he's ever been to playing his real nationality.
** Molly Shannon (Irish-American) portrayed celebrities as diverse as Anna Nicole Smith (Scots-Irish/"Anglo"-American), Monica Lewinsky (Ashkenazi Jewish), and Michelle Kwan (Chinese-American).
** MayaRudolph plays just about any race on ''SaturdayNightLive''.
* Mark Dacascos. His ancestry is very varied - Filipino, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese and Irish - and apart from all kinds of Asian characters he's also played a MagicalNativeAmerican.
* Lou Diamond Philips is of Scots-Irish, Cherokee, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese and Hawaiian descent. As you might expect, he plays characters from a variety of races, though most often Latinos.
* German/Austrian actor Moritz Bleibtreu, who played e.g. Abdul from ''Film/KnockinOnHeavensDoor'' and Tarek from ''TheExperiment''.
* In Soviet cinema, actors hailing from the Baltic republics (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) were a favourite choice for playing Western foreigners of any type. For example, [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donatas_Banionis Donatas Banionis]] has played Americans, Englishmen, Swedes, Germans, and Italians, to name just a few.
** Similarly, Central Asians, especially Kazakhs, would often play native Siberians.
* Creator/SibelKekilli is a German-born actress of Turkish heritage who has played Turks, Italians, Germans, and the NonSpecificallyForeign Shae on ''Series/GameOfThrones''.
* Creator/YulBrynner (of Swiss, Russian and Siberian ancestry) played [[Theatre/TheKingAndI King Mongkut of Siam]], [[Film/TheTenCommandments Pharaoh Ramses of Egypt]], [[Literature/TheBrothersKaramazov a Russian]], [[Film/TheMagnificentSeven a Cajun]], a Native American chief, a Cossack, a Mexican, and many other "ethnic" roles.
* French-Armenian Simon Abkarian has played Arabs, Greeks, Israeli, Afghani, Iranians and Gypsies.
* BenKingsley was born in England of an English mother and Indian father. His roles have included several Jews (of various nationalities) as well as many other Middle Eastern characters, Indians ([[{{Gandhi}} one of which]] was his breakout role and won him an Oscar), Americans, Russians, Italians, at least one Frenchman ([[{{Hugo}} Georges Méliès]]), a [[{{Film/EndersGame}} Maori]], and an Egyptian (Potiphar). In ''IronMan 3'', he plays a Middle Eastern terrorist [[spoiler: who's really a British actor who looks foreign enough to pretend to be a Terrorist, lampshading this trope.]]
* John Rhys-Davies and Catherine Zeta-Jones are both Welsh, but because of their coloring they often get cast as Hispanic or Middle Eastern characters.
* African-American actress Juanita Hall played Pacific Islander Bloody Mary in the 1958 film of ''Theatre/SouthPacific'' and Madame Liang in ''Theatre/FlowerDrumSong'' on stage and screen.
* Omid Djalili (Iranian, but emigrated to Britain as a child) is usually roped in on British TV to play anyone vaguely Middle-Easten, North African or even south European- he played a Greek cabbie in ''Literature/MyFamilyAndOtherAnimals'' in 2009. He's sneaked into a number of seriously big hollywood films as a result of this including ''Film/TheMummy1999'' and ''Film/TheWorldIsNotEnough''.
* MarkStrong has Austrian-Italian heritage, lending him to roles from the Med.
* Creator/IanMcShane has a rather swarthy olive-complexion meaning he doesn't look out of place as more Mediterranean roles and he can also do a fine Russian accent such as in TheWestWing and as Mr Bobinsky.
* MilaKunis, the Jewish Ukrainian who is apparently [[YourCostumeNeedsWork neither Ukrainian- nor Jewish-looking enough to get cast as one]]. She was cast as [[SouthOfTheBorder Mexican]], instead. {{Lampshaded}} a few times in films she's done when NonSpecificallyForeign whilst she can play any sort of [[EagleLand American]] you like on TV.
* The only films in which Ricardo Montalban played his actual nationality are the dozen he made in his native Mexico while caring for his sick mother ''after'' establishing a career playing generic 'Latin' characters on Broadway. Montalban frequently complained that Hollywood would cast him as any nationality ''other'' than Mexican. Consider his best-known roles: Khan Noonien Singh in ''Franchise/StarTrek'' and the presumably supernatural Mr. Roarke in ''Series/FantasyIsland''. The most extreme case, however, was in his guest roles on ''Series/HawaiiFiveO'' where he portrayed an Italian race car driver and a Japanese businessman in two separate episodes (thankfully not in the same season).
* If you have watched a crime drama since the mid-noughties, chance is that you have met Ivo Nandi at some point, playing an Italian, French, Russian or any kind of Hispanic character. The only thing the roles have in common is that they are foreign-accented and [[TypeCasting usually thugs]].
* Warner Oland played a number of East Asian characters by wearing {{Yellowface}} including FuManchu and CharlieChan.
* Sessue Hayakawa, a prominent Japanese-American actor from the early 20th century, was cast to play several different ethnicities.
* Israeli Oded Fehr played not only Mossad agents and Arabs of [[Film/TheMummyTrilogy mysterious]] or [[SleeperCell outright malicious]] disposition, but also [[DeuceBigalow a Frenchman]], a Greek and a [[Film/ResidentEvilExtinction Brazilian mercenary]].
* Jewish Austro-Hungarian actor Peter Lorre seldom ever played an actual Austro-Hungarian or Jewish character during the height of his career. He was usually cast as ambiguously foreign. One of his first starring roles was as a Japanese CharlieChan rip-off named Mr. Moto.
* Arnold Vosloo is a South African actor best known for playing Arabs (and [[TheMummyTrilogy Ancient Egyptian pharaohs]].)
* Hungarian (or Romanian - his birthplace used to be part of Hungary, but is now part of Romania) actor Sandor Tecsy was best known for playing Russian or Albanian characters.
* French actor Louis Jourdan has played Spaniards and other Latin lovers. He's also played the Romanian Count ''{{Dracula}}'' as well as an exiled Saudi Prince in ''{{Octopussy}}''. He's proven that he can do American accents that fool even the most American of Americans on a 1950s episode of ''WhatsMyLine''.
* Rosario Dawson is mixed race and so she can play a variety of races in films. She passed herself off as Middle Eastern in ''{{Film/Alexander}}'' and Greek in the ''Percy Jackson'' film.
* Jenette Goldstein is Jewish-American but has been able to pass herself off as numerous different nationalities - her IMDB page even describing her as "a true chameleon". Her [[{{Film/Aliens}} most famous role]] has her playing a Mexican and she played another hispanic in ''Film/FearAndLoathingInLasVegas''. She also played Irish in ''{{Film/Titanic}}'' and ''The Preisdio'', a caucasion blonde in ''Near Dark'' and she finally got be Jewish in ''Lethal Weapon 2''.
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