Follow TV Tropes

This entry is trivia, which is cool and all, but not a trope. On a work, it goes on the Trivia tab.

Following

Fake American

Go To

"Don't you hate it when you find out some really cool actor you like is actually Canadian?"

The United States has the largest native English-speaking population in the world — about 300 million — and due to the tremendous global influence of American-produced media, most non-Americans are familiar with the country's dialects and accents, and assume them easy to imitate. Thus it's not uncommon for any non-American actor to be asked to sound American for a part.

Advertisement:

Fake Americans are usually Canadians (the two countries' generic accents are virtually identical), Brits, Australians, or Irish, although New Zealanders and even South Africans have been known to fake American. This is usually done for biographical reasons, to allow for a familial relationship with another character with an American accent, or to portray a character as stereotypically American.

According to a documentary, in 2008 one-third of all piloted American TV series had British people in a starring or main supporting role, so this is expanding almost beyond the boundaries of trope. There are honestly so many actors playing fake Americans in games, TV shows, and movies as of late, most people that aren't familiar with many of the actors from across the pond assume they're American.

Britons who essay an American accent will usually opt to make the accent "colorful", and preferably Eastern. Expect to hear something along the lines of a) "salty" New Englander; b) Connecticut "blue-blood"; c) New Yorker, typically of the "Brooklyn" variety; or d) Southern, usually something from Georgia or the Carolinas but occasionally Appalachian, Ozark, or even Texan. This is because the Eastern accents share many phonetic quirks with British dialects, such as the broadening of vowels or the dropping of "r's." It is rare to hear one of these actors attempt, say, a California accent - but it is not unheard of. In those cases, overcorrection of final "r"s is a common tell ("picture" pronounced "pickshurr", say).

Advertisement:

Note that this trope does not apply to non-American actors who are not trying to disguise their accent or origin. Nor should it apply to foreign-born actors raised in America such as Natalie Portman or Mila Kunis, as long as they don't have to fake an accent. America is a nation of immigrants after all, and it isn't all that unusual to meet people who were born or raised overseas, or natural-born Americans who carry an accent from growing up in an ethnic neighborhood. Expect such situations to be Lampshaded, however, especially if the actor in question has a relatively heavy accent, like Arnold Schwarzenegger (who, for the record, does not qualify for this trope because while he was born in Austria, he is now a naturalized American). Note also that the majority of Canada is within the USA's dialect continuum, thus most Canadian actors have absolutely no difficulty faking being a generic American (it's when the accent required isn't a generic one that this comes into play).

Advertisement:

A version of Fake Nationality, along with Fake Brit and Fake Irish. If the character is called upon to "fake" the accent that's really theirs, it's a case of Lampshade Hanging, of the sub-type How's Your British Accent?. Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping is quite common, and a few careless examples end up Not Even Bothering with the Accent.

This can also be done within the United States, if an American is expected to speak with a very distinctive accent other than their own, e.g. actors with "neutral"note  accents doing a Minnesota or Georgia accent.


Example subpages

Other examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Patlabor's Kanuka Clancy is supposed to be a NYC cop of Hawaiian descent, but her voice actor's awkward, heavily accented English says otherwise.
  • Revy in Black Lagoon is a Chinese-American, born in New York. In the episodes set in Japan, she gets a few lines in thickly-accented and stilted English, laden with profanity.note 
  • The English Dub for Mad Bull 34 was done by a British company, thus the voice actors speak in really cheesy (and profanity-laden) New Yorker accents.
  • Deliberately invoked in the dub for Video Girl Ai, which was recorded by The Ocean Group in Vancover. An omake for one episode in the original Japanese had the seiyuu re-record a scene using thick Osaka accents. The dub adapted this to the voice actors acting like they were from the Deep South. They're... not that good at it.

    Films — Animation 

    Literature 
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events: Australian Emily Browning in The Film of the Book.
  • Australian Nick Cave wrote And the Ass Saw the Angel, really demonstrating his fascination with the American south, going as far as to write, at least partially, in American south phonetics.
  • Hugh Laurie also wrote a novel called The Gun Seller, in which certain of the American characters speak in a distinctly 'American' way, essentially by cursing excessively. Others talk completely normally. It's all based on whether or not we're meant to like them. The book's very British main character spends a good chunk of the novel impersonating a hick Minnesota farm boy.
    • Eddie Izzard's American imitation also ends up like this. Americans apparently talk very loudly and swear every other word.
      • And are also Texan. ("Talk Bri'ish t' mah kidz!")
      • In the comicbook Preacher, an Irish vampire on one occasion impersonates his Texan friend, le stories.
      • There are also a disproportionate number of indeterminate Southerners. Apparently a really broad Texa Georgiana accent is easier than New England or Midwestern speech.
  • In the Audio Adaptation version of The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, Stephen Briggs reads Maurice's lines in a pseudo-American accent, making him sound even more like a used car salesman.

    Music 
  • David Sylvian spoke with a very bad attempt at an American accent in the late 90s to early 2000s, as he was living in the US and apparently his young child couldn't understand him. When he left his wife and returned to the UK, he returned to an English accent. His English accent has also gradually changed from lower class to upper-middle class over the years, probably due to this being easier to understand for the many Japanese people he has worked with.
  • Look at the early Leningrad Cowboys: Finns who pretended to be Russians who, in turn, claimed to be Americans — with a thick fake Russian accent and hints of their native Finnish accent no less.
  • During the early years of The British Invasion, British rock stars could be very clumsy in imitating American accents, and The Beatles were no exception. John Lennon, for one, seemed to believe that Americans always pronounce the letter a very short and forward in the mouth, even when this is incorrect: "I'm in the mood to take a ma'am-bo."
  • The vocalists of Alabama 3 are white Brits who do reasonably good impressions of southern African-American accents; on the album version of The Sopranos' theme "Woke Up This Morning", if it wasn't for some distinctly British pronunciations in the opening monologue, you'd never notice.
  • Iggy Azalea's dirty South accent in her rapping is apparently pretty good, but it's also extremely divisive among hip-hop fans. Her real accent is rural Australian.
  • Nick Cave does a pretty convincing American (of indeterminate location, but still) in a number of songs; "Red Right Hand" is probably the most notable.
  • Rednex, a particularly odd Eurodance act heavily influenced by country music, claim to be from Bunkeflo, Idaho, with the stereotypical Southern drawl to go with it. They're Swedish (Bunkeflostrand is a district of Malmö).

    Music Videos 
  • In the music video for Genesis' "Jesus He Knows Me", Phil Collins portrays an unscrupulous televangelist, complete with the American dialect. It is also a nod to his guest role as a televangelist in Miami Vice.
  • Green Day's video for "Wake Me Up When September Ends" has an American couple, one of whom is played by the British actor Jamie Bell.

     Professional Wrestling 
  • Val Venis, WWE's wrestling porn star, was billed from Las Vegas, although Sean Morley, the real guy, is from Markham, Ontario, Canada.
  • Edge is also Canadian (and Sean Morley's ex-brother-in-law, for that matter), but always tried to do an American accent when playing a heel. As a face, he generally spoke in his native accent.
  • For whatever reason, Yoji Anjo appeared in Fighting Opera HUSTLE speaking Japanese with a thick American accent and even at times slipping into Poirot Speak. He also wore a Mardi Gras mask and was called "An Joe"; it's HUSTLE, just go with it. The joke, evidently, is that everybody knows Yoji Anjo (a semi-notable figure in Japanese wrestling) is not American and never lived in the United States.
  • Hiroshi Fukuda, aka Trans*Am Hiroshi of DDT and BASARA. He doesn't do an accent or speak English but is said to be American, often even wearing an American flag bodysuit. For some reason he's also lightly inspired by Curt Hennig, using both the Perfectplex finisher and the name "Mr. Perfect."
  • The Florida Brothers late of Dragon Gate. Taku Iwasa and Raimu Mishima took Western names (becoming Michael Iwasa and Daniel Mishima), dyed their hair blond, wore American flag patterned singlets, and engaged in acts of cheating commonly seen in mainstream American wrestling. They were later joined by Johnson and Jackson Florida, who were also played by Japanese wrestlers (Takayuki Yagi and Koji Shishido, respectively) but at least wore masks.
  • The Irish wrestling scene featured three Fake Americans at one point:
    • Celtic Championship Wrestling had DOC, who claimed to be from Texas, but was actually from Cork (with the accent slippage to prove it). Upon a Face–Heel Turn, he dropped the accent.
    • "The Messiah" Xavier Burns is from Waterford but spoke in an American-sounding accent in promos. According to him this was from playing an American character years ago and he would occasionally slip back into it.
    • "The People's Choice" Bobby Calloway was billed from Manhattan (even on his Twitter account) but is actually British. The accent was pretty convincing however.

    Web Original 
  • Almost all of (English) LittleKuriboh's voices – except for Bakura – in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series. Justified by L.K. trying to sound something like the characters he's parodying, although inverted with Yami as that character sounds more British with each episode, to the point that he stopped sounding like Dan Green years ago.
    • Similarly, MasakoX (English) in Naruto: The Abridged Series. Masako also plays a fake Canadian (Rock Lee, eh?).
    • Bandit Keith, in... Canada.
  • Both Blake "ShadyVox" Swift and Eileen "EileMonty" Montgomery are British, yet are often heard using American accents.
  • Park Bench
  • In Philthon Jones, this was attempted a couple of times, in "The Murder of Lord Avocado" and "The Meeting".
  • Jessica Lee Rose of lonelygirl15 adopted an American accent for the character Bree. Occasional lapses into her New Zealand accent prompted early speculation on whether or not the blog was a hoax. Jessica was born in the USA (Salisbury, Maryland) but moved to New Zealand at age 8.
  • The web series Agriculture has its lead character David played by British actor Shane Taylor doing an American accent.
  • A Dim Christmas is a Short Film featuring an American couple. However only the girl Lauren is played by an American (Kendal Evans). The boy Frank is played by the British Bobby Calloway.

    Americans Imitating Other Types of Americans 
  • Jack Nicholson was born in Neptune, New Jersey. This is also the hometown of Danny DeVito (with whom Nicholson has collaborated on a few occasions), but you'll note that Nicholson's speaking voice (which he doesn't tend to vary in his film roles) is regionally very hard to pin down (a good guess would be Illinois, or perhaps Iowa). One thing's for sure: it's definitely not the Joisey accent you'd expect from a boy who lived in the Garden State until his senior year of high school. Ironically, Nicholson had to learn his native accent all over again to play fellow New Jerseyan (although born in Indiana) Jimmy Hoffa in Hoffa.
  • Quick! Where was Sarah Michelle Gellar born? If you said "New York City", you're correct - but you also have a bit too much time on your hands. You'd otherwise have a hard time guessing, since her most famous role is that of a Southern Californian.
  • Los Angeles, California, native Juliette Lewis has played Southerners on more than one occasion.


Top