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March 17 2007

Best of British - Actors who've made it big in the States. Tony Head gets featured in this article that looks at British actors who did rather well on the other side of the pond.

I think they forgot one: Hugh Laurie of House (only one of the biggest hits in the US starring a brit), albeit using an American accent.
@RavenU: House hardly qualifies as cult tv.

Otherwise Christina from Ugly Betty should be on the list as well.
Maybe the successes of Hugh Laurie and Ashley Jensen (Christina McKinney on Ugly Betty) are too recent for the people who compiled the list? I mean, House is only in its 3rd season and Ugly Betty is still in its first.

Also, of all the actors listed, ASH's role as Giles would be have been the most recent to finish in the connected show's original run.
Paul Blackthorne who plays the lead in The Dresden Files is English (from Wellington in Shropshire), playing the role of Harry Dresden with an American accent. Terrence Mann, who plays the role of Bob with an English, accent is American (from Kentucky).
Nemesis, really? Unfortunately, Blackthorne's accent slips a lot. I can't tell if Mann's does. Hugh Laurie's doesn't as far as I have ever heard.
Storyteller: @RavenU: House hardly qualifies as cult tv."

Yeah, I see that the column is called is called "Cult Spy" - but then it's hard to view Star Trek: The Next Generation as anything but relatively mainstream, either.

I love me some BritActors, and now we have Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver over here playing American-based Travellers, and doing a damn fine job, so far...
Storyteller why not it fits the definition of a cult tv show, which is defined as The object of such devotion. Have you met some House fans they definitely have devotion to the show. I would not have concidered "The Equalizer" a cult show but since they mentioned it in the article why wouldn't House be included as well?
I haven't watched that much Dresden but from what I have it seems Blackthorne definitely struggles. A valiant struggle but a struggle. He isn't just trying to do America but Chicago as well.
I wouldn't have guessed that Mann was American.
But what was really silly were all the support cast memebers that were supposed to be from Chicago but were clearly Canadian.

Also did Giles ever drink coffee on Buffy?

And Edward Woodward is going to be in Hot Fuzz?
Looking forward to it even more.
An disn't the correct expression "did rather well the other side the pond" with no prepostions?
Xane: "Also did Giles ever drink coffee on Buffy?"

Tea - endless cups of tea...

"Cuppa tea, cuppa tea, almost got shagged, cuppa tea?" - SPIKE, "Bargaining - Part 1"

:>
Giles drank coffee at least once....

Xander: "Aren't you supposed to drink tea, anyway?"
Giles: "Tea is soothing. I wish to be tense."
Xander: "All right, but you're destroying a perfectly good cultural stereotype here."

--"Graduation Day, Part 1"
Lovely find, WilliamTheB. I award you the Buffy-Quote-Location-of-the-Day Award.

There's no actual prize, as such, but you know, it's a honour just to be nominated. Or not.
Dang, I wish I could get a part-time job proofreading these websites' articles: "though a fly cry ..." But I appreciate the blast from the past of The Equalizer - I adored that show and Woodward, such a marvelous actor (original Wicker Man, Breaker Morant to name a couple movies). But again, Beauty and the Beast is forgotten, a certifiable cult show, with Roy Dotrice as Father, the rock that anchored Vincent's existence, and Wesley's father on Angel.

ETA - And of course, Tony Head being on there goes without saying. It'd be insane for him not to be.

[ edited by Tonya J on 2007-03-17 22:17 ]
And Edward Woodward is going to be in Hot Fuzz?

Already is in fact ;). Saw it a couple of weeks ago and it was brilliant. As funny as 'Shaun' with the same perfectly balanced mix of homage to/piss-take of the foundational genre (buddy cop movies in this case, complete with homo-erotic undertones ;) but with the sort of film/book references (and at least one cast member) from 'Spaced' (including one particularly apt one given that Woodward's in it). Highly recommended.

(and great to see a nod to 'Callan', excellent show. If 'The Prisoner' is post 'Danger Man', you might make a case that 'The Equaliser' is post 'Callan'. Minus the balls ;)

Also, I haven't seen it but 'The Wire's Dominic West is English (from Sheffield). I'dve thought that might qualify as cult.

An disn't the correct expression "did rather well the other side the pond" with no prepostions?

Maybe on the other side of the pond ;). It is a tricky case (one of those instances where the US usage is probably actually traditional and it's we Brits that've changed things) but over here the 'on' is entirely correct, necessary even. British usage would, for instance, never be "I wrote him." but always "I wrote to him.".
High praise from QuoterGal :) Thank you.
Also not exactly 'cult' I guess, but there's Marianne Jean-Baptiste on 'Without a Trace.' You'd never guess she's from London, not only her accent but the whole way she speaks (pacing, inflection etc) changes for the role of the tough Chicago detective.

Always thought it was cool that 'Without a Trace' had a Pom, as well as two Aussies (Tony LaPaglia and Poppy Montgomery), in the principal cast!

We Aussies are pro-preposition too, Saje. And how awesome is Hot Fuzz? Damn! Major gore and adorable Guy-Love. If I can't marry Alan Tudyk, I'll settle for Pegg. *dreams*
Can't remember what it was in but the first time I heard Antony LaPaglia using his native accent I remember thinking "Bloody hell, he does a pretty good Aussie", only found out afterwards there was a reason his 'Aussie' was so good (i'd always just assumed he was a Yank cos of his fake - or acquired - American accent ;).

And yeah, gotta love the Pegg/Frost mega combo. I was so glad they didn't suffer from the famous 'sophomore slump'.

On the born here but not 'of' here front there's also Amanda Tapping (yep the woman that plays the boffin's boffin, Sam Carter, is actually an Essex girl ;), David Hewlett (Surrey) and Paul McGillion (Paisley, Scotland - though what then happened to his 'accent' i've no idea) - all from the Stargates.
Anthony LaPaglia may do a great American accent but his English accent on Frasier left a bit to be desired but maybe he was taught it by Jane Leeves.

Has anybody mentioned Jamie Bamber in BSG?
Ah good call, yeah if it wasn't for 'Hornblower' I would just have assumed Bamber was a Yank.

(Jane Leeves is English, BTW, 'nother Essex girl. Or did you just mean she's probably not a qualified dialogue/accent coach ? Or thinking about it, that her 'Northern' isn't all that great - which, y'know, fair comment ;) ?)

Always curious incidentally as to how Americans view these accents that we non-Yanks are lauding. Are they actually any good or can you guys spot them a mile off ?
"Always curious incidentally as to how Americans view these accents that we non-Yanks are lauding. Are they actually any good or can you guys spot them a mile off ?
Saje | March 18, 11:58 CET"


In my own case, I don't usually think about it. I have a tendency to not necessarily peg someone as being a Brit or an Aussie trying to do an American accent, but someone as having a weird accent or unsuccessfully trying to do a regional accent that is not their own. Americans are so spread out and have so many combination ethnic/regional/generational accents that you can get away with a lot. That also means that Ameerican actors get the chance to do bad American regional accents as well. That said, when I read this:

"Also not exactly 'cult' I guess, but there's Marianne Jean-Baptiste on 'Without a Trace.' You'd never guess she's from London, not only her accent but the whole way she speaks (pacing, inflection etc) changes for the role of the tough Chicago detective. "

I thought, "So that is why she has that weird broad accent." Fairly regularly she says something that just pulls me right out of the story and makes me think, "Where is she supposed to be from?" Admittedly, I have never been to Chicago, but I do talk to Chicago-ins on the phone all the time and have never heard anything like her accent. On the other hand it never occurred to me that Antony LaPaglia was anything but American, or that Poppy Montgomery was for that matter.

As someone touched on earlier in the thread, the ones that amuse me on one level and annoy me on another are the Canadian filmed shows that are pretending to be set in a US city. I have nothing against Canada, in fact I would prefer it if they would just set the show in Canada (though having been an American actor, I would really prefer they filmed in America if they are going to set it here.) As was said, it is supposed to take place in NY or Chicago, but every supporting player has a Canadian accent. When kids are involved the accents are so strong it pulls me right out of the story with the thought, "According to these shows in a few years all Americans will have Canadian accents because no matter what their parent's accent is and no matter where they are from, all American children have Canadian accents. Someone should look into this. If our children are being implanted with Canadian accents what else are they being implanted with? Maybe Garrison Kiellor has been right all along and the real threat to America lies North of the border." By then, though I have amused myself, I may have missed something on the show. ;-)

[ edited by newcj on 2007-03-18 14:24 ]
And how awesome is Hot Fuzz? Damn! Major gore and adorable Guy-Love. If I can't marry Alan Tudyk, I'll settle for Pegg. *dreams*

Fun fact: Hot Fuzz has taken more money at the UK box office alone than Serenity took worldwide. And so it should - it's a fantastic film.
"(Jane Leeves is English, BTW, 'nother Essex girl. Or did you just mean she's probably not a qualified dialogue/accent coach ? Or thinking about it, that her 'Northern' isn't all that great - which, y'know, fair comment ;) ?)"

I did mean her Northern accent was dodgy :-)

It's a good question about how Americans think of others doing their accents. I personally think Hugh Laurie, Brian Cox and Tom Wilkinson all sound really strained as Americans but how do they sound to Americans?
I don't even know who Edward Woodward is! I don't remember "The Equalizer," ever.

I am surprised Hugh Laurie is missing from that list, cult or no cult, though. I don't really care for "House" (too simple for me), but he's virtually a household name.

While I enjoy watching him, accent issues or not, Paul Blackthorne hasn't exactly made it big in the US, yet. Yes, he's in "The Dresden Files," but how many people actually watch that show?

How about Naveen Andrews or Alexander Siddig? These guys keep coming up for acting awards in US productions, and Naveen Andrews is billed first on a still-popular TV show. Is it too soon to see if Jamie Bamber will go any further than Battlestar Galactica? And if BSG does count, James Callis, previously best known in the US for his role in the Bridget Jones movies, is awesome as Baltar.

[ edited by Nebula1400 on 2007-03-18 18:48 ]
Funny Newcj!

I thought Ewan Macgregor did an excellent Southern accent in Big Fish, but I'm not Southern so maybe my judgement isn't worth that much.

Even as an American, I think Gwyneth Paltrow's "English" accent anytime she uses it is pathetic and distracting. But again, as an American I may not be the best judge.

ETA I just remembered Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind. Perfect. I forgot she wasn't American.

[ edited by Xane on 2007-03-18 20:09 ]
I know its not cult (although could be by DS definition of cult) but gotta give credit to Joely Richardson while on the topic.
Well, newcj, one could argue that some Canucks can sound just like Americans. I have more than once been asked where in the state of Michigan I was from, and the people were surprised when I told them I was a Canadian, born and bred. I blame it on too much US material being part of the cable package where I am from;)

And if I might be able to insert my $0.02 about how Brit actors success or fail at American actors....I think it depends on the character they are playing:

1) Hugh Laurie --> I think his accent is quite well done, if admittedly a tad bit strained. I think that having his background be a armed forces brat (cuz assuming only Army officers get Musical Chair-ed among posting is unfair;D) helps. I know my uncle picked up on the local accent every time my grandparents moved due to work;

2) Anthony LaPaglia --> Another excellent effort, though seemingly a lot more natural than Mr. Laurie's. Event gets the regional quality down better. And his brother Johnathan (Seven Days) is quite good at it too;

3) Brian Cox --> Well...if I recall my impressions from seeing him do characters like Colonel William Stryker, he is definitely someone who can pull an American accent off.

And last time I checked, shows get filmed up here in the Great White North because of the exchange rate and a cadre of trained professionals who are always eager to work for top dollar productions. Not everyone can have Joss' wonderful stubborn streak to keep his projects local (i.e SoCal)
That also means that Ameerican actors get the chance to do bad American regional accents as well.

Yeah, it's strange how most actors can seemingly do a better foreign accent than they can regional accent from their own country (see aforementioned Jane Leeves and her 'Mancunian'). Or maybe it's just that we're less able to judge completely foreign accents (Leeves' Manc may have sounded perfectly fine to a US ear) ?

I don't really care for "House" (too simple for me) ...

(my emphasis)

OK, i'll bite ;). In what way Nebula1400 ? Do you just mean formulaic or do you mean that the character is 'simple' (I find him to be quite layered, especially as played by Laurie, though that might be something you have to watch a lot of episodes to 'get', it's not a show that blurts its character development out) ?

Even as an American, I think Gwyneth Paltrow's "English" accent anytime she uses it is pathetic and distracting. But again, as an American I may not be the best judge.

That's maybe a bit harsh. She makes a good attempt (getting better as time goes on, she used to really clip her word endings, too much even for the home counties) but like a lot of 'almost there' English accents, hers is too polished IMO i.e. it doesn't have any regional or individual characteristics so you end up with an accent that 'sounds' English (except when she just makes a mistake and it, y'know, doesn't ;) but which most Brits would peg pretty much straight away (same with Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft).

To my ear, BTW, Hugh Laurie's American accent sounds the same, too 'smooth' but, unlike Ms Paltrow's, otherwise pretty much flawless (and a bit strained though, in fairness, he's said in interviews that it is a constant strain).

(I always thought one of the great things about Alexis Denisof's English accent - which, apart from very early on, I thought was the best English accent by a Yank i'd ever heard, still do - was the way he managed to keep a lot of his own vocal quirks. Just lent it a more authentic sound so that even when he made a mistake you'd be more inclined - as I was - to assume he was a Brit that'd lived in the US for a few years rather than the other way around)
Alexis Denisof and Gwyneth Paltrow have the advantage of having lived in London for years. AD was here for 15 years and worked at the RSC among other things, like playing Lord Rossendale in Sharpe. La Paltrow was here for around 5 years I think when she was growing up. Actually, I find AD's American accent bizarre but then so does he - he's having to relearn American. I'm no great fan of GP but I think her English is fine, indeed she seems capable of shading it slightly from part to part. For instance in Shakespeare in Love she was far more BBC than in Sliding Doors where she had just a hint of Estuary accent.

BTW, I've discovered another guest in Angel was British, Scottish actually. That's Alec Newman who played Drogyn in the last season. I saw him recently in the excellent Reichenbach Falls based on an Ian Rankin story.

Finally, let's not forget that Tony Head was using an assumed accent in BtVS. His normal speaking voice is very Camden!
Not seen 'Shakespeare in Love' but I thought 'Sliding Doors' was easily Paltrow's worst accent, rather than shaded I just thought it was all over the place, from very RP to elements of estuary to somewhere around Bermuda. Clearly we all have different ears ;).

Knew Alec Newman was a Brit, didn't realise he was a Scot (never heard him with anything but an English accent - must check out 'Reichenbach Falls' cos i've heard only good things) and yeah, ASH's real accent is quite different (still, any actor that's been to one of the better drama schools will be able to speak 'RADA' English in their sleep).

First time I heard AD's true accent I thought "Bloody hell, he's really let his English accent go while living in the states". Then I did a bit more research ;).
I also find AD's American accent strange. It always sounds like a really bad British version of an American accent. I don't remember him sounding like that on HIMYM (though I only caught part of one episode he was on) so I assume he can do a standard American accent if he wants. I'm hoping that is what he uses for auditions.

"Well, newcj, one could argue that some Canucks can sound just like Americans. I have more than once been asked where in the state of Michigan I was from, and the people were surprised when I told them I was a Canadian, born and bred. I blame it on too much US material being part of the cable package where I am from;)"

Of course. A lot of Canadians' accents could be confused with Americans and vise verse. Actually I have met some people, though not most, from Northern states like Michigan, Minnisota, and Washington, whose accents sounded very Canadian. They are right aross the border, after all. New Yorkers, on the other hand, though they have an amazing variety of accents, are rarely confused with Canadians. I'm guessing it is the same with people from Chicago.

"And last time I checked, shows get filmed up here in the Great White North because of the exchange rate and a cadre of trained professionals who are always eager to work for top dollar productions. "

Yes, American actors and other American film and television professionals are well aware of the economics that makes filming in Canada and calling it NY or Chicago popular. Just like we all understand why so many things are imported from other countries in general. That does not mean it always works out perfectly even beyond the children's accents.

Even within the US, filming Point Pleasant in CA and calling it NJ did not work. I could not understand why they just did not set it in CA if they were not even going to try to find places that looked like the Jersey Shore. I don't even remember what they did with the accents on that one, (thank goodness) I was too distracted by the ocean cliffs and palm trees.

Speaking of NJ, before I read here that she was not American, I had actually wondered occasionally if Marianne Jean-Baptiste on Without a Trace was trying to do a broad partial NJ accent and not quite getting it. Also, I have never seen the Sopranos. Anybody care to tell me how well they do on the accents on that one? All I have read about is how the geopraphy of the state is moved around much like Ats did for Las Vegas. Not that people are complaining though, since the series does actually film in NJ.

[ edited by newcj on 2007-03-19 17:17 ]
"Well, newcj, one could argue that some Canucks can sound just like Americans. I have more than once been asked where in the state of Michigan I was from, and the people were surprised when I told them I was a Canadian, born and bred. I blame it on too much US material being part of the cable package where I am from;)"

That may be true for the Main actors of some shows, but the bit players they get to round out the cast almost invariably show their Canadian.

Maybe the writers should just ban the words "out" and "about" from the scripts.

The funniest thing though is what TWOP refers to as "Kancouver" in Smallville.
Kansas, which is mostly broad flat plains, is filled with mountains and lakes in many episodes because it is filmed in Vancouver.

And it was Sliding Doors that I found really awful as far as Paltrows accent went. I thought the movie was an intriguing idea, really wanted to like it but I couldn't get past the accent.
I think Gwyneth did okay in Sliding Doors. One of the worst English accents I have heard is Helen Baxendale's in Friends when she was asked to ham it up. She sounded so awful that soon her character became unbearable.
Saje;well, the prepostions are definmitely usually found in the American version of thsi aprticualr expression so thanks for clearing that upa bit.

Just wondering if Mercedes McN. (born in BC but raised since fairly small in CA) cans till do the Yorkshire accent she picked up while visiting soem relatives whens ehw as 5.

I have always found it amazing that British Aussie or Kiwi actors (Except EPter Sellers who could enver surprise me) could flatten out their accents to sound AMerican. But having discussed it with a few British posters here and there it turns out AMerican accents aren't especially as flat as I thought of them. (When I first saw the Tasters' Choice comemrcials, I knew Sharon was British but I didn't think Tony was...I was quite surprised when I found out he'd been in the original Gold Blend version.)
"(When I first saw the Tasters' Choice comemrcials, I knew Sharon was British but I didn't think Tony was...I was quite surprised when I found out he'd been in the original Gold Blend version.)"

Really? I remember ASH's character on those commercials as being British, though I don't remember what I thought of her. Hmmm I guess that could be considered rather telling about my focus. ;-)

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