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Fake American

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"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 — 333 million (1/3 of a billion) — 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.

Fake Americans are usually Canadians (the two countries' generic accents are very hard to distinguish), 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. Interestingly enough, the Fake American is not usually Mexican, even though the United States of America and The United Mexican States (official name of Mexico) share two-thirds of their name with each other and the southwestern third of the former was the northern half of the latter before 1848, or Jamaican (has its own distinct accent, known as Jamaican Patois), Belizean, or Indian, even though the three are Anglophone countries like the USA.

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 the 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 even d) Southern, usually something from Georgia or the Carolinas but occasionally Appalachian, Ozark, or even Texan. This is because the Eastern, and especially Northeastern 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 attempts, say, a California accent — but it is not unheard of. In those cases, the overcorrection of final "r"s is a common tell ("picture" pronounced "pickshurr", say).

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 (Israeli), Mila Kunis (Ukrainian Jewish), Sebastian Stan (Romanian) and Elizabeth Taylor (British), 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).

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.

Not to be confused with Creator's Culture Carryover, which is when a creator makes a work based on a foreign country but projects their own country's characteristics on it, e.g. a British writer writing about America but with British elements seeping in, effectively making the story "fake American".

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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  • The "Wacky Wild Kool-Aid Style" and "human cartoon" ads for Kool-Aid were done by a British firm (Moving Picture Company) for an American advertising agency (Grey Global Group), so naturally there were many instances of this trope (with the exception of Kool-Aid man's V.A., Richard Berg).

    Anime & Manga 
  • Patlabor's Kanuka Clancy, an NYC cop of Hawaiian descent, is voiced by a Japanese actress in the original version.
  • 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.
  • 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 Vancouver. 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 using Deep South accents.
  • As noted in Video Game subpage, Mia Taylor from Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club is an American transfer student from New York and speaks with properly accented American English, but actually voiced by Shuu Uchida, a Japanese voice actress with high fluency in English due to her Australian upbringing.

    Films — Animation 

  • 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 comic book 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.

  • David Sylvian spoke using 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 Brits who sing with southern 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 is Australian, but raps with an American accent.
  • 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.
  • Eurodance novelty act Rednex claim to be from Bunkeflo, Idaho, with the stereotypical Southern drawl to go with it. They're Swedish (Bunkeflostrand is a district of Malmö).
  • Bis is a Scottish band, yet frontwoman Manda Rin sings with a American-ish accent. If it wasn't for a few distinctly Scottish pronunciations in their songs (especially on the chorus of the ending theme to The Powerpuff Girls (1998)), most would never guess they're from Glasgow and have band members that met in school in East Renfrewshire.
  • The Bomfunk MC's, best known for their One-Hit Wonder "Freestyler", rap with American accents. They are Finnish (their lead singer, Raymond Ebanks, was born in the U.K. but grew up in Finland).
  • Rick Springfield was born in Guildford, New South Wales, Australia and spent his childhood in the Melbourne area, and only came over to the U.S. as a young musician in 1972 (when he was already in his early twenties). Yet in the early-80s when he had major music hits with the likes of "Jessie's Girl" and a regular role on General Hospital, he sounded just like he was born and raised somewhere on the East Coast or in the Midwest. His natural speaking voice has also evolved into an American-ish one.
  • Lars Ulrich of Metallica is Danish. To some, he seems to have lost his native accent.
  • Chris Hamlet Thompson of Manfred Mann's Earth Band sings on several songs, most notably their Covered Up version of the early Bruce Springsteen song "Blinded By The Light", with a convincing southern American accent. Thompson is British, from Ashford, Kent, England.
  • Ylvis are Norwegian. Anybody who listened to "The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)" wouldn't be able to tell given how well they're able to feign American accents.
  • All Time Low frontman Alex Gaskarth was born in Essex, England. However, he's lived in the US for so long that he sings with an American accent.
  • Zig-zagged with Dave Matthews — he was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and lived in the US, England and South Africa in his youth, and he's been an American citizen since 1980. Still, some would be surprised that the famous Charlottesville, Virginia resident is actually South African-born.
  • Rapper Slick Rick is British, though he lived in the US for so long that he began to speak with a southern drawl.

    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 Salisbury, Maryland on the US Eastern Seaboard 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.
  • The short NAM features a traumatised soldier from the Vietnam War — played by Liverpool native Luke Anthony Jr.
  • AFK: Several of the characters are Americans (to judge by their accents), while the actors playing them are from New Zealand.

    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.
  • Sarah Michelle Gellar is a New Yorker, but her most famous role, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is a Southern Californian.
  • Los Angeles, California, native Juliette Lewis has played Southerners on more than one occasion.
  • John Wayne often played Texans, and his loping voice fit that setting well, but other than living his first few years in his birth state of Iowa, he was a Southern Californian.
  • Burt Reynolds was from Michigan but was known for playing Southerners.
  • This is common in professional wrestling, with American wrestlers from one part of the country being billed from somewhere other than their hometown. For example, Carmella, born and raised in the Boston area, is billed from Staten Island in New York City, and New Jack, born in Greensboro, North Carolina and raised in Georgia, was most famously billed from South Central Los Angeles.
  • Comedian Larry the Cable Guy may have a thick Southern accent, but it's one that he took on for his character that became the voice everyone associates him with. He's originally from Nebraska, and his birth name is Daniel Whitney.
  • Sam Elliott has often played Old West cowboys, and his sonorous baritone drawl fits the image well. He's originally from Sacramento, California, and spent a large part of his teenage years in Oregon.