Alright boys, I confess. I was Abie the fish peddler. Ravelli:
How did you get to be Roscoe W. Chandler? Chandler:
Say, how did you get to be an Italian? Ravelli:
Never mind. Whose confession is this?
When an actor plays a native of a nationality or area other than their own. Not counting those actors who play an extraterrestrial
, who are never
from the same place as their character. Probably.
Israeli and Arab actors tend to wind up playing each other quite frequently (though Israeli-for-Arab is more common than the other way around). Gung-ho movies made during World War II featured every kind of Asian except
Japanese, since the Japanese-American actors were otherwise occupied.
And very few Russian characters during the Cold War
were played by native Russians. For foreign actors who are frequently employed to play foreign characters, see Plays Great Ethnics
The most common examples have their own tropes: Fake American
, Fake Brit
, Fake Irish
, Fake Scot
, Fake Russian
, and Fake Mixed Race
. See also: Fauxreigner
where the character
is pretending to be a nationality they aren't (or acting more stereotypical than they actually usually do).
If you are actually from the area in question, you may remember one or more of these examples as "That foreigner with a strange accent. Where are they supposed to be from
?" On the other hand, some actors are really good at it. An added complication is that human appearance varies even within nationalities and ethnicities as a result when playing a historical character the foreigner might have been selected because s/he greatly resembled the original.
Often the result of the What The Hell, Casting Agency?
or the desire for a director to have someone who speaks his or her language in the cast.
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- In The Heroes of Olympus, Piper's famous Cherokee father has never played any Native American roles in his movies.
- PBS made three TV adaptations of Tony Hillerman's Leaphorn/Chee series. Although the series is about the Navajo Tribal Police, not a single lead role was played by a Navajo actor; instead we had the Cherokee Wes Studi as Joe Leaphorn, Canadian Saulteaux Adam Beach as Jim Chee, Mohawk Alex Rice as Janet Pete, and several others. This is ironic because of an in-universe example of this trope in Sacred Clowns: Jim Chee, Janet Pete, and a Comanche agent of the Bureau of Indian Affairs attend a screening of a film about Comanches that actually used all Navajo. It is commented that Hollywood apparently thinks all Native Americans look alike.
- Star Trek has a lot of these:
- The character of Khan Noonien Singh, a Punjabi Sikh played by Mexican Ricardo Montalban. His chiseled features, made up darker, worked, even while not remotely from "northern India". His accent, pimping as it was, didn't.
- In Star Trek Into Darkness, Khan is played by the white British Benedict Cumberbatch. Though in the film, Khan briefly indicates that he may have simply been "given" that name and nationality, and that it was the world that was responsible for bringing him and his compatriots into existence. And not only he keeps the British accent, but the only time the Indian surnames are referenced is when Spock-Prime discusses Khan.
- Chicago-born Walter Koenig, son of two Russian Jews, as Russian Pavel Chekov. (He's the one with the gun.)
- Star Trek: The Original Series has, in addition to the aforementioned Chekov, a Canadian (William Shatner) playing an American (James T. Kirk), another Canadian (James Doohan) playing a Scotsman (Scotty), and an American (Nichelle Nichols) playing an African (Uhura). In fact, the only characters portrayed by an actor of the same nationality are McCoy and Sulu. McCoy was a U.S. Southerner played by a Georgia-born actor with a slight-but-legit Southern accent (DeForest Kelley) and Sulu was an Asian-American played by a Japanese-American (George Takei).
- Although Sulu was intended as a "pan-Asian" character, and in fact "Sulu" is nonsensical as a Japanese name (it was a Line-of-Sight Name), so there is still some divergence from George Takei's actual ethnicity. The "name blatantly not matching the ethnicity" is part of the spoof of Tony Shalhoub's character in Galaxy Quest.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation has an Englishman (Patrick Stewart) playing a Frenchman (Picard), an American (LeVar Burton) playing an African (Geordi La Forge), and another American (Denise Crosby) playing someone of Ukrainian descent (Yar).
- Yar was originally written as a Latina, "Macha Hernandez" and the Greco-Brit Marina Sirtis was slated to play her.
- Yar was also not Earth-born, she was born and raised on a human colony on a completely different planet.
- LaForge's actual origins are deliberately vague—he's a Military Brat whose parents moved wherever Starfleet sent them. All we know for sure is that his mother was in Africa when he was born.
- The post-Nemesis Expanded Universe puts Zefram Cochrane High School (as LaForge mentioned in First Contact) in Mogadishu, Somalia. Yes, that Mogadishu. It must be better in the 24th century...
- Enterprise has a Korean-American (Linda Park) playing a Japanese woman (Hoshi). But in general, the later series were more accurate, with human characters either played by actors of appropriate nationality, or being from worlds other than Earth.
- Spoofed in All That with one of Kenan Thompson's characters who is a black man in a blonde wig with a Scottish accent who claims to be Japanese. When asked why he has a Scottish accent, he answers "I don't know. It's been freakin' me out for years!"
- LOST has Briton (of Indian descent) Naveen Andrews as Iraqi Sayid Jarrah, New Zealander Alan Dale as the British Charles Widmore, and the Australians in flashbacks are overwhelmingly played by non-Australians faking the accent. Additionally, Frenchwoman Danielle Rousseau is played by Croatian actress Mira Furlan, while Russian Mikhail Bakunin is played by Venezuelan-born Andrew Divoff, but at least he's half-Russian and speaks the language. Nigerian Eko is played by British actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, but this is justified since his parents are Nigerian and he does the accent right for once. Similarly, Korean-born American Daniel Dae Kim plays a Korean...who can't speak English at first (ironically, he had to be taught Korean by his on-screen wife Yunjin Kin, similar to how in-character Sun teaches English to Jin).
- Sherlock 's third episode The Great Game has British actress Haydn Gwynne playing a Czech women. Gwynne is fluent in French and Italian, so she often plays different nationalities.
- Carlo Rota, a British-born actor of Italian ancestry, plays the Lebanese Yasir Hamoudi in Little Mosque on the Prairie (note that on 24 Rota plays Morris O'Brian, whose ethnicity has not been specified but is likely Irish, and on an episode of This is Wonderland he played an Italian hotdog vendor).
- The Israeli Ziva David is played by Cote de Pablo, whose parentage is Chilean.
- For that matter, Ari the Big Bad is played by Rudolf Martin, a German.
- And American (of Irish and Italian ancestry) Armand Assante as Frenchman Rene Benoit, a.k.a. La Grenouille. (But then, France is between Ireland and Italy, so...)
- Hispanic Michael Trevino plays the white Tyler Lockwood who is descended from Native Americans on The Vampire Diaries
- Also neither Paul Wesley or Ian Somerhalder who play the Italian-American Salvatores have any Italian in them and none of the actors who play the Originals have any Scandinavian ancestry.
- Betty's father in Ugly Betty is Mexican , but the actor who played him, Tony Plana, is Cuban. Her extended family from the episode "A Tree Grows in Guadalajara" was composed of Justina Machado (Puerto Rican-American), Rita Moreno (Puerto Rican) and Lillian Hurst (Puerto Rican). The episode also had Lilyan Chauvin (French!) playing a Mexican native.
- The animal hunter in Eureka has a horrific supposed Australian accent. To an actual Australian, it sounds like a strangled mix of South African, Irish and New Zealand accents using occasional Australian words.
- Played by Canadian American Matt Frewer, best known as Max Headroom.
- Briton Hugh Laurie as American Gregory House on House. In a season one episode House calls a doctor in the middle of the night and fakes a British accent, claiming he's from London and forgot what time it would be in America. For that scene, Laurie did not speak with his real accent, but with the accent he used when he played Bertie Wooster. It was meant to sound "over the top" and be a wink to people who know Laurie's work in Jeeves and Wooster.
- This is also the accent he used for the extremely dim Prince of Wales in Blackadder III. In fact, the BBC impersonation show Dead Ringers played with the idea of Hugh Laurie doing House - in his Prince Regent accent from Blackadder. A second sketch had him playing the Prince Regent - but in Gregory House's American accent.
- It's possible to find the occasional Brit complaining about Hugh Laurie's "horribly fake" American accent on House, though it sounds perfectly fine to people who are actually from the US (this is probably due to the fact they know he's not American, so his accent must be fake, right?). Word of God says that one of the producers was unfamiliar with Laurie and had been complaining about all the foreign actors being suggested for the part; when he heard Laurie's audition tape, he said something along the lines of "There, that's what I want, an American actor!"
- SF Debris humorously lampshades this tropes in his review of Star Trek: The Next Generation with the quote and video above where Brit Patrick Stewart plays Frenchman Jean-Luc Picard, with his own British accent.
- The British accent is at least a decent second choice. A Frenchman who speaks English completely fluently will tend to sound British, as that's the accent taught in French schools.
- For that matter, there's no real reason to suppose that a French accent of 200 years in the future would sound anything like a French accent of today. For all we know, all the other characters are thinking "Oh my God, he's such a Frog" every time he opens his mouth.
- Stewart spoke French in just one episode of the entire series, which was passable but of course English-accented.
- Speaking of Star Trek, Voyager had Robert Beltran, who does not really identify as indigenous, play a Mayan.
- Kato in various adaptations of The Green Hornet has always been Filipino but has never been played by one. The first radio actor to voice the role was apparently Japanese (Raymond Hayashi), American Roland Parker voiced him for most of the series run, while American Mickey Tolan played the role towards the end. In the film serials, Kato's nationality was specified as Korean, but the role was played by Chinese actor Keye Luke. And in the TV series Kato was played by Chinese-American actor Bruce Lee.
- Mixed with the Fake American concept on the short-lived series New Amsterdam. Nikolaj Coster Waldau, a Dane, plays John Amsterdam, a NYC cop who is actually an immortal Dutchman doomed to walk the earth until he found his soul mate and went through an interesting string of relationships and Americanized aliases. His American accent was good enough to fool most viewers.
- German actor Horst Buchholz played a Polish man very convincingly in Tiger Bay - his accent only slipped in a single scene.
- David Carradine, who is an American of Cherokee, English, Irish, Italian, Scottish, German, Spanish, Ukrainian and Welsh descent, played the half-Chinese Shaolin Master Kwai Chang Caine in Kung Fu. Carradine's half-brother Keith portrayed a teenage Caine, while an equally non-Asian Radames Perá played young Caine.
- And contrary to popular belief, Bruce Lee was never attached to the series.
- In the 1987 British made-for-television film Scoopl, Norwegian actor Sverre Anker Ousdal plays insane Swede Erik Olafsen. Funny thing is, Olafsen is a rather Norwegian spelling, the most common Swedish equivalent would be Olofsson. Not to mention that there is nothing in the plot that requires the character to be a Swede - making him Norwegian would at least be more accurate.
- In Heroes, we have the Indian-American actor Sendhil Ramamurthy playing the Indian character Mohinder Suresh; at the beginning of the show he attempted to do some kind of Indian accent (possibly Tamil?), but after a few episodes he settled on a (relatively good) straight British accent. We also have the Korean-American actor James Kyson Lee playing the Japanese (and Japanese-speaking) character Ando Masahashi, presumably under the tutelage of his authentically Japanese colleague Masi Oka.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel used this, most obviously with Americans David Boreanaz, James Marsters, Juliet Landau and Alexis Denisof playing the Irish Angel and English Spike, Drusilla and Wesley Windham-Price respectively.
- California-born James Marsters took this to an extreme in the Buffy episode "Doomed" (4x11). Playing the British vampire Spike, he replicates a Brit's very poor imitation of an American accent when Spike tries to change his speech to avoid detection by the vampire-capturing Initiative. This rather remarkable feat can be considered the linguistic equivalent of "chicken-fried chicken": chicken pretending to be cube steak pretending to be chicken.
- In Boreanaz's case his character's nationality wasn't revealed until two seasons in, while he had been speaking with a basic American accent and his Irish accent in flashbacks was rather poor, so he continued to speak with his regular accent.
- See here for some of the natter about how Alexis Denisof's American accent sounds fake and put-on...
- On Mash, Asians of every nationality and descent were used to play the native Koreans.
- The Play of the Week adaptation of Rashomon (not to be confused with the Akira Kurosawa film) had actors of several nationalities playing Japanese characters. None of the actors were Asian, let alone Japanese. Among them: Ricardo Montalban (Mexican), Carol Lawrence (Italian-American), James Mitchell (Anglo-Portuguese), and Oskar Homolka (Austrian with a Czech surname).
- Seinfeld featured a Finnish character... using a Russian accentnote .
- Hogan's Heroes is actually a surprisingly complete aversion. Of the main cast, which included French, British, American and German characters, only Sgt. Shultz was representing a different country-he was Austrian.
- In the time the series is set, Austria wasn't exactly "a different country"-it had been annexed by Germany.
- In Fawlty Towers, Manuel, who's from Barcelona, is played by a German-born British actor.
- Who is also Jewish, and in fact escaped Germany right after Kristallnacht.
- The "American" in the Waldorf Salad was a Canadian actor that made a career of being the token North American on British shows.
- Swedish actress Helena Mattsson was recently cast as a Russian gold-digger on Desperate Housewives.
- Daniel Davis of Arkansas has made a career playing proper Brits, most notably on The Nanny. According to his IMDb profile, during the run of that series viewers would write in saying that his castmate Charles Shaughnessy (who actually is British) should take lessons from Davis on how to do a proper British accent!
- 24 has produced several examples:
- The above-mentioned Vosloo as Habib Marwan, a terrorist Big Bad of Turkish origin.
- British-Sudanese actor Alexander Siddig played Hamri al-Assad, a presumably Lebanese terrorist mastermind turned Atoner.
- Sean Majumder played an Arab terrorist on the show, despite being half East Indian and half Newfie.
- In a particularly jarring example, American Dennis Hopper played Big Bad Victor Drazen, a Serbian warlord.
- Don't forget Indian-American actor Kal Penn playing an Arab of indeterminate origin.
- Aki Avni, an Israeli, plays an Arab terrorist. For about twelve seconds.
- And Jack Bauer is played by a Canadian actor of British ancestry. Damn it!!!
- Anil Kapoor, a Bollywood (Indian) superstar, is playing a character of presumably Iranian origin, though not a terrorist, but a foreign President.
- Australian John Noble played a minor antagonist on the series who was Russian.
- Australian actor Nick Jameson also played a Russian character: Yuri Suvarov, the president of the country.
- Peter Wingfield played David Emerson, a bad guy from the African nation of "Sangala," without his native-born Welsh accent. (He has also used, with varying degrees of success, an Irish accent on "NCIS:LA" and Russian on an episode of "Endgame".)
- American Richard Basehart portrayed a British stage actor on an episode of Columbo.
- New Yorker Bernie Kopell was over-the-top German villain Siegfried on Get Smart.
- Khigh Dhiegh made a career out of playing "yellow peril" Asian villains, like Yen Lo in The Manchurian Candidate and Wo Fat on Hawaii Five-O. In real life, he founded the Taoist Institute in Hollywood. But he was born Kenneth Dickerson in New Jersey, of mixed Anglo and North African/Arab heritage, with no trace of East Asian-ness.
- The True Jackson movie has an actor sloppily juggling an American and Scottish accent...while playing a Frenchman.
- NUMB3RS features Amita Ramanujan - a Tamil character played by a Rajput actress. More egregious than it sounds, since the two groups look significantly different.
- Plus Navi Rawat (the actress) is half-German...and the actors who play her parents look nothing alike.
- Power Rangers RPM has a New Zealander playing the extremely Scottish Flynn McAlisteir. He made a game effort on the accent, at least. Not to mention the full cast of Fake Americans in every season since 2003.
- Now that Saban has the series back, Americans are playing the Rangers again, though filming's still taking place in New Zealand and there will probably still be some Fake Americans involved.
- Power Rangers Samurai has the Mexican-American Antonio played by an actor who is Thai-German.
- Subverted in an episode of the Ellery Queen TV series, in which an Indian man is obviously played by a white guy with makeup. It turns out that, in-universe, he is a white guy in makeup playing an Indian.
- In Season 1 of The Closer, Marina Sirtis, of Deanna Troi fame, plays an Iranian woman. Though Greek, she plays a sleuth of Middle Eastern and Levant characters.
- Margaret Cho's All-American Girl did this in spades: Margaret Cho was the only Korean-American in the main cast of the show. The actress playing the grandmother (Amy Hill) was Japanese-American, as was father Clyde Kusatsu; mother Jodi Long and brother B.D. Wong were Chinese-American.
- In Rescue Me, African-American Daniel Sunjata plays the Puerto Rican Franco Rivera.
- The cast of 'Allo 'Allo! is made up of dozens of Englishmen playing Frenchmen, Germans, Austrians, Italians and Swedes. Only three characters in the show are British. Despite that, everyone talks English, but they pretend they can't understand each other and speak with different accents.
- In a very early episode of The Saint, Simon Templar has to rescue a kidnapped American girl in Rome. Said girl, played by English actress Sally Bazely, is the definition of Not Even Bothering with the Accent.
- On Community Abed and his dad are Arab-Americans: Danny Pudi (Abed) is half-Indian and half-Polish (and grew up speaking Polish), while Iqbal Theba (Abed's dad) is Pakistani. The Arabic they speak, however, is real.
- Señor Chang, a.k.a. El Tigre Chino ("The Chinese Tiger"), is played by Korean-American actor Ken Jeong.
- In Mission: Impossible, Leonard Nimoy, as the Master of Disguise, went undercover as a Japanese person and did kabuki.
- And as The Complete Mission: Impossible Dossier pointed out, when he disguised himself as the villain (played by Wo Fat himself, Khigh Dheigh) he somehow became several inches shorter...
- On Ringer Henry's American wife Gemma is - well, was - played by British actress Tara Summers. Averted on the same show by Ioan Gruffudd and Jaime Murray, however, who do indeed play Brits.
- Adelai Niska on Firefly, a crime boss of indeterminate Eastern European ethnicity (though he tells his henchman to cut off Mal's ear in Czech), is played by New Yorker Michael Fairman.
- In 30 Rock, Fred Armisen guest-stars as Liz's Middle Eastern neighbor whom she immediately suspects is a terrorist. He just wants to participate in The Amazing Race.
- Done with each of the leads on Strike Back. American Philip Winchester plays British Sgt. Michael Stonebridge, while Aussie Sullivan Stapleton plays Ex-Delta Force soldier Damien Scott.
- Ahmad Kahn on NYC 22 is an Afghan refugee-turned-NYPD rookie. His actor is British of Arab or Persian descent.
- On Glee, the Irish/Filipino Darren Criss plays white American Blaine Anderson.
- On Dollhouse, the white Mark Sheppard plays Graham Tanaka, a white FBI agent with an Asian last name.
- The Japanese Suki from Tower Prep is played by a Taiwanese-American.
- Ricardo Montalban (again) gets it twice in Hawaii Five-O: as European race car driver Alex Pareno in "Death Wish On Tantalus Mountain" and as a Japanese man named Tokura in "Samurai".
- Montalban was a frequent victim of this trope. He often complained that he was cast as just about every nationality but Mexican in productions not made in his native country (in The Wild Wild West's "The Night of the Lord of Limbo" he played a Confederate soldier called Noel Bartley Vautrain!).
- Also on Hawaii Five-O: among the many roles played by Mark Lenard was an amnesiac Japanese ninja. Really.
- The Honduran comedian Carlos Mencia (real name Ned Holness) made a career out of exploiting Mexican and Mexican-American stereotypes. He did this in both his stand-up routine and on the show Mind of Mencia. In his early stand-up career he tried to avert this by telling jokes about how he was always mistaken for Mexican. However he eventually decided to embrace the confusion, and identify himself as Mexican.
- Ross Martin, a Polish-American Jew, was so convincing as the Hispanic Andamo that he became typecast for a time in such roles.
- In Code Lyoko: Evolution, Yumi, a Japanese girl, is played by Mélanie Tran, an actress of Vietnamese descent.
- The second season of Once Upon a Time added the character of Mulan, based on the Chinese Ballad of Hua Mulan, played by a Korean-American.
- Both played straight and subverted in "The Night Of The Inferno," the pilot of The Wild Wild West: Nehemiah Persoff, born in Jerusalem, plays a Mexican; Victor Buono plays a Chinaman... who turns out to be another Mexican in disguise, making this a case of Fake Nationality in-universe (but still being a Fake Nationality). (While the nationality of Buono's villain Count Manzeppi was never made clear, he definitely plays an American in one of the two reunion movies; Persoff, on the other hand, plays a Chinaman in "The Night of the Deadly Blossom" and an American in "The Night of the Underground Terror.")
- The US-UK Made-for-TV Movie Murder By Moonlight (or Murder On The Moon, depending on which country you watch it in) is a Fake Nationality fiesta - set on a joint American-Russian lunar colony, the cast has Danish Brigitte Nielsen as an American investigator with other Americans played by Brits (and some actual Americans, like Gerald McRaney), and British Julian Sands as a Russian investigator with other Russians played by Brits, Poles and even the odd American.
- In The George Lopez Show, Carmen, who is Mexican and Cuban, is played by the Albanian Masiela Lusha. Her Cuban-American mother Angie is played by Constance Marie, who is Mexican.
- In The Bridge German actress Diane Kruger plays American Sonya Cross, while Colombian actress Catalina Sandino Moreno plays Mexican Alma Ruiz.
- On House of Cards (US), the Cuban-American Linda Vazquez is played by Indian-American Sakina Jaffrey.
- The100 has among others Australian Eliza Taylor as Clarke, Canadian Marie Avgeropoulos as Octavia and Scottish-Peruvian Henry Ian Cusick as Kane.
- This is fairly common in pro wrestling, and it goes back to the earliest days of the sport. One of the first such angles involved "Cowboys vs. Indians," with well-tanned wrestlers playing the heel Indians and some well-crafted publicity stunts used to draw the desired media attention. During the late 1940s and early 1950s, Foreign Wrestling Heels became common, first with American wrestlers portraying Germans sympathetic to the Nazi cause (when in fact, several "pro-Nazi" wrestlers were Jewish or fought for the Allied forces), and later faux-Russians. Oriental heels also became common, with most of them actually being Native American, Hawaiian or Samoan (although a few were legitimately Asian); for instance, Mr. Fuji was actually Hawaiian. During the 1970's and 1980's, such as Ivan Koloff and the original Sheik were two of the biggest stars; they were actually North Americans posing as foreigners. In addition, a number of Caucasian wrestlers, such as Paul Diamond and Jamie Noble, have posed as orientals wearing masks.
- Subverted when The Iron Sheik, an Iranian, had a brief run in the early 90's as Col. Mustafa, an Iraqi. He was still identified as being the Iranian born Sheik but had changed his allegiance to the nation that was now America’s main enemy
- Although billed as being from the Soviet Union (specifically Lithuania), Nikolai Volkoff (born Josip Nikolai Peruzović) was actually from Yugoslavia (Croatia, to be exact). Boris Zhukov (born James Harell), his ostensibly Soviet tag team partner and later rival, was in fact born and raised in Virginia.
- Burqua-clad Syrian valet Raisha Saeed is portrayed by American Melissa Anderson, AKA "Future Legend" Cheerleader Melissa and Alissa Flash.
- Canadian (though of Italian descent) Anthony Carelli playing Italian Santino Marella.
- Parodied with the WWF/E's The Machines, a supposedly Japanese tag team whose membership included "Giant Machine" (obviously André the Giant in a mask), and "Hulk Machine" (Guess Who?) The group was actually part of a Charlie Brown from Outta Town angle when Andre was suspended for no-showing an event. note
- Sabu, in reality an American-born wrestler of Lebanese descent, has been billed as hailing from Saudi Arabia, and from Bombay, India. Sabu attempts to maintain the illusion by not speaking in public, though he has been overheard speaking to his opponents during matches in a perfectly American accent. At one point, ECW were billing him as from "Bombay, Michigan" as an in-joke.
- While at the same time, his tag-team partner, Rob Van Dam, was billed as being from "Battle Creek, India".
- Yokozuna, depicted by Samoan-American Rodney Anoa'i. Somewhat subverted in that while he represented Japan and had the Japanese Mr Fuji in his corner, he actually was billed as being from Polynesia. This lead to a funny moment of irony during his match against Bret Hart at Wrestlemania IX when the fans chanted "USA" to taunt Yokozuna(as Bret isn't American and Yoko was).
- Incidentally, Mr. Fuji himself qualifies for this, as he's actually American born in Hawaii (though of Japanese descent).
- Kofi Kingston was originally billed as being from Jamaica, an artifact from NECW that probably got him hired since WWE apparently wanted Jamaican Wrestlers at the time. He was actually born in Ghana (and raised in America), which WWE finally admitted.
- New York Bodyguard Ezekiel Jackson, played by a Guyanese Wrestler, but eventually WWE decided to drop the charade.
- Also, Mexican wrestler Hunico's new bodyguard/running buddy Camacho is billed from Juarez Mexico, but is played by the Tongan Tevita Fifita.
- Shantelle Taylor (real name: Shantelle Larissa Malawski), a Canadian of Polish descent, was originally meant to debut in WWE's Cruiserweight division under a mask and body suit as a supposed Japanese competitor and would eventually be unmasked to be revealed as a woman. Taylor was released before she made it to TV. (She did spend time in TNA as Taylor Wilde but was billed from her hometown of Toronto.)
- In TNA the stable Mexican America had no Mexican members. On top of that only one of them was even ethnically Mexican, Anarquia, who was an American from California. Both Hernandez and Rosita are Americans of Puerto Rican decent, but were from Texas and New York. Hernandez was even still wearing tights with the Puerto Rican flag on them when the angle began. Finally Sarita is Canadian and not even Hispanic. However her inclusion can be justified because she was the only one that could fluently speak Spanish.
- Killer Khan, a Japanese wrestler playing a Mongolian.
- One Man Gang, a white guy from South Carolina was portrayed as Akeem the African dream.
- The title character in Othello has been played by a Caucasian (with or without blackface) more often than would make one comfortable.◊ Do they figure no one will notice?
- Indeed, this was how it was done in Shakespeare's day. The first black actor to play Othello was in 1825, but don't think just because they went black they never went back - Constantin Stanislavski played him in 1896, Sir Laurence Olivier in 1964, Paul Scofield in 1980, Anthony Hopkins in 1981.
- All these examples are not necessarily "blackface" - Othello is described as a "moor", which some assume to mean black and some assume to mean Arab. The Anthony Hopkins and Orson Welles portrayals made use of this ambiguity. Laurence Olivier's, though? Definitely black, and a little weird.
- Yes, just because he uses the adjective 'black' on himself doesn't mean he was actually imagined as being any darker than leather. This is Shakespeare. It also helps that neither the writer nor the audience had had any extensive nuanced experience with other races.
- In an interesting twist on the play's theme, in an 1998 staging which was called the "photo-negative" version, Patrick Stewart played Othello in an otherwise all-black cast.
- Similarly, Monostatos in The Magic Flute is referred to as a moor in the libretto, but is not always portrayed as black. It helps that (in North America, at least) operas rely on subtitles, so phrases like "the wicked moor" can be given as "the wicked Monostatos".
- Controversy surrounded Miss Saigon when it was being transported to Broadway after a successful run in London. The Actor's Equity Association would not allow Jonathan Pryce, who had created the role of The Engineer in London, to play the role on Broadway. According to them, allowing Pryce, a Caucasian, made up to look like an Asian in the show, would be an affront to Asian actors. A counterargument was that the Engineer is of mixed descent (French-Vietnamese), and Pryce was being discriminated against for being Caucasian. After pressure from Cameron Mackintosh, the producer, the general public, and its own members, the AEA relented and Jonathan Pryce was allowed to recreate his role on Broadway. A controversy also sprung up related to Lea Salonga, the female lead, but it was not racially related.
- Parodied on a Little Britain sketch in which a pushy stage mother desperately tries to get her son a part in Shakespeare's Henry V. When she suggests him for the role of Henry V, the director tells her that Jonathan Pryce has already been cast in the lead, to which she replies "But he's Chinese!"
- And of course, Lea Salonga, who is Filipina, has been cast as Vietnamese (Miss Saigon), French (Les Misérables), Chinese (Mulan, Flower Drum Song), and Arab (Aladdin).
- The character of Christmas Eve in Avenue Q is an immigrant who sings about how her life sucks, in part, because she worked in a Korean deli (or, in some versions, a Chinese restaurant) upon coming to America, despite being Japanese. In the Australia/New Zealand tour, she is played by Filipina Christina O'Neill.
- In Sunday In The Park With George, this is guaranteed to happen, because the first act is set entirely in France with French characters (with two Americans and two Germans in the company), and the second act is set in America, with American characters.
- In the premiere of Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in the New World, Musa, an Egyptian, was played by an East Indian actor, and Gamila, also Egyptian, was played by a white American actress.
- Sound Horizon usually does this for their live shows out of necessity. The band is Japanese, but almost all of the Rock Opera albums are set outside of East Asia (Ancient Greece, 14th century Germany, France, etc). Obviously, it's rather difficult to find German or French performers that can sing live in fluent Japanese, so Japanese people playing Westerners it is.
- In Harold Pinter's Celebration, Suki, who is of Japanese descent, is usually played by a Caucasian actress.
- In Book-It Repertory Theatre's adaptation of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, the Chinese Henry Lee was played by a Filipino actor, while Keiko Okabe, who is obviously Japanese, was played by a Korean.
- Done in-universe in The Legend of Korra, where Bolin (half-Fire Nation, half-Earth Kingdom) plays "Nuktuk, Hero of the South(ern Water Tribe)". His costar Ginger doesn't seem to have any Water Tribe racial traits either, though it's hard to tell her heritage for sure.
- Generally, almost all works that portray Indians, even if they hire Indians, do not pay attention to the regional accent of the actor. Most western viewers do not notice this, but it can get annoying to viewers who can pick out Indian regional accents. It's as annoying as watching an actor with a strong Texan accent play a character in Fargo. Outsourced is a very egregious example. A lot of actors are from different backgrounds than the characters they play. For example, Rizwan Manji who is an Ismaili Muslim plays Rajeev Gidwani who is a Sindhi Hindu. Rebecca Hazelwood who plays Asha in Outsourced is part Indian-part English has played a lot of Indian characters of various backgrounds (although she is decent enough of an actress to pull it off). Generally, it's not a big deal because the specific regional background of the character doesn't really matter much to the story line. Generally averted in all movies directed by Mira Nair which is why she is able to pull off stories that are sensitive to the background of the characters (see Mississipi Masala).
- Children of a certain age can learn a new language without a "foreign" accent up to age 10-12.note Up to age seven or so they change their regional accent within a language with very little apparent effort, and older ones frequently make a deliberate effort to do so right up to the age when romantic interest makes being the exotic foreigner a net positive.
- There are plenty of specific examples of this on the individual "Fake ____" pages. It seems this experience seems to lead to an interest in the performing arts...
- There is a medical condition known as Foreign Accent Syndrome in which victims of brain damage unknowingly speak with what sounds like a foreign accent. This was once portrayed on an episode of Royal Pains.
- Any example of a character coming from a country that doesn't exist in real life. Obviously, the actor couldn't come from that country.