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August 26 2008

James Marster's British Accent: One of the Worst? That's the opinion of sci-fi-centric io9's Meredith Woerner (I respectfully couldn't disagree more).

I would be in agreement. I couldn't believe it when he rolled it out on Torchwood. It was like they had literally transplanted Spike onto the show and the only change they'd made was his sexual orientation. The accent doesn't even sound English, it sounds like a weird American.

Anthony Head's "normal" accent sounds ridiculous too (NOBODY in this country speaks like that!). Thankfully he only used it in one episode of Buffy.
I'm from England myself and cant stand hearing American actors put on bad English accents, I could (but wont) name a good number of Whedonverse actors of did a bad job of it. But I also disagree about James Marsters, I actually didn't realize he was faking for a while. There's a lot of people around where I live that sound like he does.
I actually didn't realise he was faking it either - although the husband spotted it. Odd really that it can fake some of us Brits and not others!
I thought James Marsters did an excellent job. Season 2 was a little ropey in retrospect, but I only caught Buffy in Season 6 so didn't get to that bit until later.

My husband is English (I'm an expat American) and he thought James was English too. Mind you, he's actually Cornish and does the worst regional accent impressions I've ever heard, so what does he know?
I thought his accent in season 2 was fairly awful, because it was obviously faked and artificial. By later seasons he was more comfortable with it, and it sounded more natural and realistic.

Still never as bad as Juliet's English accent, though...
James' accent was what it was supposed to be - an upper class gentleman affecting a working class accent. Of course it's going to be exaggerated and wrong in places. I think James did an excellent job conveying that whether it was intentional or not.

I also think I might be the only person in the fandom who didn't think David Boreanaz's Irish accent was *that* bad. I'm pretty good picking out accents and catching the lilt and intonations of different dialects. Sort of a hobby of mine and David got a few words completely right in the way he said them. I know when you do an accent it can be hard to maintain it and that might have been his problem with longer speeches delivered in it, but when he just had a phrase or two to say, he did all right.
Yes!!!

Terrible, terrible, terrible British accent. All over the place. Fortunately (as steven Moffat has pointed out on his 'Press Gang' commentary) the performance makes you forget about it for the most part. But this is one of those things that normally drives me up the wall.

Same on 'Lost'. They should have let Dom Mon change his lines, cos he kept coming out with stuff that a Brit would never say.

Also, they missed out the black guy in Ocean's Eleven. Appalling.

Oooooh it maykes meee mayd!!!

[ edited by ZodKneelsFirst on 2008-08-26 13:01 ]

[ edited by ZodKneelsFirst on 2008-08-26 13:01 ]

[ edited by ZodKneelsFirst on 2008-08-26 13:02 ]
Props to Alexis Denisof. I wouldn't have guessed he wasn't British if I hadn't been told.
"Anthony Head's "normal" accent sounds ridiculous too (NOBODY in this country speaks like that!). Thankfully he only used it in one episode of Buffy"

Huh? Fraid I don't get this comment
As a genuine English accent it doesn't cut the mustard, but I always thought it fitted the character very well. There are plenty of badly executed accents in 'Buffy'. It was not so successful when it was resurrected for 'Torchwood'.
As an ignorant American, I can never really tell when someone is doing a bad English accent. I think I'll stay blissfully oblivious.
I'm American too, and despite my two years living in London as a kid and way too much time watching British TV over the years, I'm obviously not qualified to judge - all I know is sometimes I'm fooled and sometimes I'm not. Marsters had fooled me, Denisof didn't, but probably because by the time Denisof appeared, I was suspicious because I knew Marsters was American. Landau didn't fool me either. Boreanaz's Irish accent? I tend to grip my head in pain. Love you, David... but pain.

We're watching Alias now on DVD, and David Anders as Sark didn't fool me, although he seems not bad (despite coming out with "ga-RAGE" in the latest episode we saw). I knew Melissa George as Lauren wasn't English, either, and the background for the character's accent was strange, anyway - she was supposed to have grown up in Britain with American parents or something? But every once in a while with her I'd hear some broad Australian vowel sneak in.

And there was the actress in The Devil Wears Prada who seemed to be doing okay until the word "privacy" popped out with a long I.

Finally... the first episode of Torchwood - going the other way - when Barrowman was going on about "oestrogen." I've never heard an American pronounce it with a long E at the beginning... ever.
Does the sound matter as long you believe it? James brought the total verisimilitude of that character. Unlike Kevin Costner in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
Oh, please tell me Costner wasn't even trying and he wasn't under the impression he was using any kind of English accent. (I think I read that they decided not to have him even try.)
Just a completely different opinion about James' accent, for a bit of balance.

http://tinyurl.com/5tqsnv
"2 JAMES MARSTERS
When originating the role of Buffy the Vampire Slayer baddie Spike, California native Marsters didn't just steal Billy Idol's hair, sneer and leather jacket. He also mastered a pukka Brit accent that wouldn't sound out of place in The Queen Vic."

He totally fooled me when he was Spike, but I'm not sure what he was going for on Torchwood. Completely different from Spike. Maybe it's just the accent of whatever alien planet he was from.

[ edited by Xane on 2008-08-26 14:27 ]

[ edited by Xane on 2008-08-26 14:28 ]
I couldn't believe it when he rolled it out on Torchwood. It was like they had literally transplanted Spike onto the show and the only change they'd made was his sexual orientation. The accent doesn't even sound English, it sounds like a weird American.


I would like to point out that Captain Jack's accent also sounds like weird American. John Barrowman's accent is fine, but there are words that he pronounces the British way. No American would say "eestrogen".

But both those characters are from the future, so I don't expect their accents to be contemporary anything.

I haven't heard Amanda Tapping's British accent, but I know that she was born in England, even if she grew up in Canada. You would think she would be able to pick up some from her parents (but you would think the same thing about Paul McGillion (Beckett on Stargate Atlantis), the Scottish Canadian.

My favorite fake American accent? Doctor Who, the William Hartnell years (I love Hartnell). The Wild West episode. British people playing American cowboys end up sounding slightly Australian.
Alexis Denisof NAILED the accent, honestly honestly. It's absolutely flawless and the best I have ever heard by anyone ever. But he spent a few years doing theatre here, I think? So that'd be why.

Marsters was Ok, Boreanaz and Landau were criminal. But what annoyed me is when JM would say "poof" and "patronise" incorrectly/in an American way. I always wondered why on earth Anthony Head never corrected him on these blaringly obvious mistakes.

For people who are going on about Barrowman's American - he was born in Scotland so that'll be why, but was brought up in the US. So that'll explain it!

[ edited by Stumpy on 2008-08-26 14:30 ]

[ edited by Stumpy on 2008-08-26 14:31 ]
I know, Stumpy (I love Barrowman's Scottish accent) - if his American accent were his original one and he was saying "oestrogen," it would be a choice... not a mistake! ;-)
Of course, if James Marsters had spoken the way an actual lower class Englishman does, no one in the States would have understood a word of it. Especially if he were to carry his punk aesthetic over to his voice. Sid Vicious=totally unintelligible.

I did think it was really funny that he dropped the accent almost entirely for his song in "Once more with feeling."
Barrowman's American accent has always sounded a bit dodgy to me. I can't put my finger on why but it just doesn't sound natural.

As for Anthony Head's supposed "real" accent, I've met him, and he speaks pretty much like Giles.
Not an accent problem, but the biggest cultural violation I saw in the Buffyverse was in early Angel. Angel and Doyle are sitting around being miserable and drinking whiskey. Scotch whiskey. Two Irishmen. Nevermind vampires, demons and magic; that was the biggest call for suspended disbelief ever.
American child of an English mother here, had an English accent myself until I went to school- and ditched it in a day as a first-grader. (The other kids said I "talked funny.")

JM initially fooled me entirely, but I think it must have been the force of the character created, because when I rerun the dvds- he sounds all wrong. Barrowman sounds totally American to me- but that may be because he sounds like me.(I still say a few words oddly, usually words I have only read, and not actually spoken before. Recently I was teased for saying "Sa-hah-ra" for the desert. Apparently, there is another way to do it.)

These days, pretty much no one's accent is regionally pure. There is a Pittsburgh accent-really harsh- thought I didn't have it until I heard myself on tape. Whoops. It's there, and not that faint, either. Interesting.
Anthony Head's "normal" accent sounds ridiculous too (NOBODY in this country speaks like that!). Thankfully he only used it in one episode of Buffy

Um - Anthony Head is actually British...so his "normal" accent is his actual accent - how can it be wrong?
Last I checked, people from New Jersey, Boston, Texas, California, and New Orleans don't all have the same accent. I imagine there are regional differences in England as well. So saying someone didn't pull of a country's accent is about like saying they don't sound like the one person I'm thinking of right now. Throw in the time-traveling, or immortality so that you've been exposed to several accents/dialects over the years and you've lots of excuses to not sound like that one guy. Tapping isn't trying to do an English accent in Sanctuary. Another case of a time-traveling mix of dialects.
I think she's referring to the opening episode of Buffy, which was a bit of a parody.
[Deleted for stupidity.]

[ edited by Kirochka on 2008-08-26 15:11 ]
I did think it was really funny that he dropped the accent almost entirely for his song in "Once more with feeling."

You try singing with an accent. Believe me, it is frightfully difficult. Yelling is also harder to pull off when faking an accent.

Anyway, I think toast hits it right on the head above. I also grew up in England as a child and moved with my family back here to the states where I quite promptly left my accent behind me. But even still I've lapsed back into without even realizing. (I've noticed it happens more often when I'm tired or not paying attention while reading something aloud.) I know I also tend to pick up on how others talk around me and without even trying end up emulating them and picking up their own accents or manner of pronunciation.

All that is to say that I don't necessarily care whether JM's accent was spot on - so long as it isn't HORRENDOUS to the point of distraction - because in the end it's the entire performance, and that's truly what makes Spike come alive.
Marsters' accent is clearly very divisive. I've heard several people say it's a great accent, and others say it's horrible. Maybe it's the Brits who oppose. They'd have a better hear for what's right and what's not. I certainly didn't know he was American until a friend told me.

However, Denisof definitely takes the cake. That is an amazing accent. (Or is it? I dunno, what do British people think?) I'm still in awe of the fact he's American.

And I agree on Barrowman, he definitely pronounces a couple words strangely. As everyone else already pointed out, he said estrogen in a way I'd never heard. And I seem to remember he said schedule Britishly once too. (I noticed that problem in Who too: the "American" reporter they show on the TV sometimes, in one of the last episodes of Series 4 she pronounced "edict" in an unAmerican way.)

I don't think I know what ASH sounds like in non-Giles mode. All I can find on YouTube are clips of him singing and his old coffee ads. Did someone say he used the accent in an episode of Buffy? Which one?
ceo, I tend to be a humongous sponge when faced with a regional accent in someone I'm speaking with... to the point that an Irishman sitting next to me on an Aer Lingus flight to Shannon years back asked the friend I was traveling with, when I was away from my seat, what part of Ireland I was from. [Blush...]

All in all, I've always found accents fascinating, so my noticing whether or not American pronunciations are slipping into Spike's speech is just something I notice... not something that, for me, detracts from the performance.

Then again, Keanu Reeves in Dracula? Oh dear Lord. But then again, that's Keanu Reeves... oh dear Lord in general.
Doesn't Giles revert to a kind-of-Cockney accent in Band Candy? Is that what we're talking about?
Anthony Head's "normal" accent sounds ridiculous too (NOBODY in this country speaks like that!). Thankfully he only used it in one episode of Buffy

ASH is from Camden, North London and I found that his actual speaking voice/accent is nearer to the Band Candy voice than 'posh librarian' Giles :) A bit like mine (estuary English). Perhaps just a little exagerrated to emphasise the change.

Either way, I think Alexis Denisof has the most believable accent, I was very surprised to find he was an American, and funnily enough when he is on stage with ASH he lapses into the Wesley accent alot.

As for James, I always assumed from his accent that he was an upperclass toff trying to sound working class. Overall it's not that bad my only niggle was the short 'a' and 'poof'. Perhaps ASH never corrected him because he thought it amusing.
ASH is British but like all countries there are loads of variations. The accent he used for Giles was RP (ish) while his natural accent appears to be a form of London accent (but not East End/Cockney). Listen to him in "Band Candy" - that sounds more like his real accent.

IMO, James Marsters' accent was not #3 on any worst scale except maybe the third worst in BtVS.
You try singing with an accent. Believe me, it is frightfully difficult. Yelling is also harder to pull off when faking an accent.
True, that. I was just watching season five of The Wire, and every time McNulty was either drunk or yelling (or both), Dominic West's Sheffield accent came out front and center. He does a great Baltimore accent when he's playing calm and sober.

The main reason I knew Juliet's accent was fake was that I remembered her from Ed Wood and knew she was Martin's daughter. I don't know if I'd have picked up on it otherwise.

I was surprised not to see Forrest Whittaker in The Crying Game listed. Surely everyone knows that the real secret of that movie is that he was supposed to be playing a Brit.
I heard John Barrowman once talking to an interviewer and his father. It was fascinating to hear him completely switch to his Scottish accent everytime he spoke to his father, but the interviewer got the American. It was dizzying and fun.

Alexis Denisoff does a great English accent, unfortunately he doesn't seem to be able to do a credible American one regardless of where he is from. Don't know how that happenned.
Hmmm, all my Brit Buffy fans said James did an excellent job! They said, however, that they couldn't tell which part of England he was supposed to be from.

Also, I don't know if this is the same for everyone, but the moment I am in a different country (or even just in the south!) my accent changes involuntarily.

And when I had a London friend stay with me on her first leg of a US trip, she would revert into an American accent within the first few hours.

You cannot help it.

At any rate, I'd trust the Brits over the Americans with their opinion on James, and all the Brits I've run into think it's very convincing, albeit odd. :)
I'd say the prize for the worst accent in BtVS goes to Emma Caulfield as Aud in "Selfless" but maybe that doesn't count as she wasn't speaking English...
Of course, these two polls leave out the eye-watering "Cork, Ireland" accents in Heroes season two.
I think the 'real' accents of a lot of 'theatrical' people, and people who are on the road a lot (like musicians) are often a bit weird. ASH used to get the crap kicked out of him for speaking 'posh' when he was a kid, so he put on a 'street' accent to survive. And now he's quite the luvvie, dahling, so that influences his speech as well. Add living in California for years, no wonder the way he spoke in the Halloween episode sounded 'off'.

Yeah, Boreanaz's Irish accent wasn't great, but it wasn't that bad either. The problem is a lot of people who criticise it have never been to Ireland and have never heard the many, many different accents that exist there. They've only ever been exposed to the standard 'top of the morning to ye' tourist board version of Irish and wouldn't know a Northide Dub from a Southsider, or a Northerner from a Kerryman. (Let's face it, NOBODY can understand a Kerryman.)

I think Glen Quinn got flak for his - real Dub - accent, because nobody'd ever heard that kind of accent on tv before. Not until Colin Farrell came in, anyway.

As for Marster's Spike-accent, I thought it was passable and he could probably fool ya for a while. I thought it was better in the earlier years than in the last season, I think the material he was working with by then was so heavy he was concentrating more on that than his accent.

I remember reading ASH telling him off for saying 'bollix' instead of 'bollocks'... I guess ASH himself might not be aware 'bollix' is common usage in Ireland at least.

Nobody can tell I'm Dutch, at least not from my accent :-)
It really isn't fair, the amount of British actors who can do amazing American dialects; not all, but a goodly amount. Probably much more than Americans = British. Maybe the most astounding example of a British actor is Hugh Laurie. His House is spot on (whatever he was aiming for, it works). Meryl Streep is one of those that, even when the dialect is a bit spotty, she encompasses the character (she's done British at least twice, Plenty being my favorite).
I can't believe they left out Anna Paquin's horrible Southern accent in X-men. I still cry when I hear it. Especially when they cast her in another Southern role with "True Blood". Anyone know if she's going to have that tragic fadin' in and out accent again?


Accents are always a difficult thing because people from the same state, but different areas have different dialects. Someone from Northern Michigan doesn't talk like someone from Southern Michigan. Just like someone from Ohio doesn't talk like someone from Illinois.

Because of this, generally British folk know when an American is faking it, just like I can sometimes tell when a non-american is trying to fake an American accent.


The real thing that amuses me is that when studying Dialects in school, I learned that the really old English accent (like Shakespeare old) supposedly sound closer to the American Southern accent... which means that even areas change dialects over time.

I'm curious what the world will sound like in a few hundred years time. Of course, it's something that I'll never get to hear...but I bet it would sound awesome.
As far as Torchwood goes, both captains John and Jack are from the 51st century, and technically I don't think Jack is from Earth (Boeshane Peninsula? Correct me if I'm wrong), so maybe the point is moot. Jack isn't technically American (not from America) and maybe John isn't technically British (from Britain).
Anyways: does it really matter? I love James Marsters and his crappy accent because his acting is amazing. Ah, I love the episodes of Torchwood with Capt John! and who doesn't love Spike?
He's either an ancient vampire or a time traveller. Surely his accent is going to be a mess?

But the English Season 7 potential who bought it? She was awful. Really, Truly Awful.
Some people's accents change more than others. I thought Spike was pretty convincing for someone who's lived a long time and moved around, in addition to deliberately changing how he says things sometimes. That'd be me if I was that old, anyway.

The real thing that amuses me is that when studying Dialects in school, I learned that the really old English accent (like Shakespeare old) supposedly sound closer to the American Southern accent... which means that even areas change dialects over time.

I think that's only true of the Virginia Piedmont area. They say some things there in ways that are more similar to Elizabethan English than to other modern English accents in the U.S.

I don't remember Anna Paquin's Meridian, MS accent from X-Men. I don't remember thinking it was terrible for Mississippi, though.
Last I checked, people from New Jersey, Boston, Texas, California, and New Orleans don't all have the same accent.

The accent in south Jersey (with Swedish influence) is clearly different than the accent in north Jersey (old Irish influence), and there are subtle variations from town to town.

Another thing to consider is that Spike had been in the US since WWII. His accent could have been influenced by American pronunciation in the subsequent 60 years. Mercifully for us, Angel's had changed.

[ edited by Nebula1400 on 2008-08-26 19:17 ]
ASH used to get the crap kicked out of him for speaking 'posh' when he was a kid, so he put on a 'street' accent to survive.

When I first saw ASH interviewed (maybe on Wogan ?) he had a very estuary accent (Thames estuary, Essex broadly) and it sounded very affected. In interview now he just has a fairly standard, middle class southern English accent. It's different to Giles' home counties RP (especially early, stuffy Giles) but it's also not "young Ripper" (from 'Band Candy') which was the equivalent for Giles of William putting on his Spike accent.

I did think it was really funny that he dropped the accent almost entirely for his song in "Once more with feeling."

Very few people sing in their normal accent, it's oft noted that a lot of people sound slightly American when they sing for instance, so Spike not sounding like Billy Bragg when he sings isn't inconsistent IMO (I don't sound like The Proclaimers either ;).

Must admit, I thought for Spike his accent was fine, he'd travelled a lot (for 150 years ;), was posh doing common (JM's William accent is actually much better IMO, what little we hear of it), had been in the US a while etc. so his accent was bound to have unusual elements BUT i'm also slightly bemused by (the many) actual English people saying they couldn't tell he wasn't English (or at least, that his accent was fake - he could've been English just not from wherever he was aiming for* but that isn't like any real English accent i've ever heard).

Alexis Denisof's accent though not flawless was pretty close (later on anyway, early Wesley's too text-book) and could pass for an Englishman living in the US very easily IMO - IIRC he lived in England for a fair few years though so it's not that surprising (apparently he even struggled to get his full American accent back).

Amanda Tapping's English accent isn't terrible IMO, it's certainly not convincing to a Brit, too text-book, too clipped, a bit forced but it's a pretty good fake accent. Paul McGillion's on the other hand ... well, let's just say the guys's a good actor in every other way ;).

John Barrowman's actual Glaswegian accent is just a tiny bit off too BTW, he sounds like someone that doesn't normally use that voice (but I bet after a few hours back with his folks/siblings he'd be pretty broad again - course he's from Mount Vernon anyway, la de dah ;).

Re: the "he/she is from another time/place argument" nah, doesn't wash for me. The point is what accent they're trying to replicate, that's surely how you judge - otherwise we could just fan-wank any accent away and there'd be no such thing as a bad one (maybe Dick Van Dyke's character in 'Mary Poppins' had a speech impediment for instance ? ;).

(and I used to know an Irish woman that looked like she was in physical pain hearing DB's "oirish" accent, varied though Irish accents may be they're still Irish ;)

* if anyone's seen the 'Bones' S4 promos, Andrew Buchan's accent sounds a bit "off" possibly because he's trying for RP when he's actually a Lancashire lad

edited for typos. Plural ;).

[ edited by Saje on 2008-08-26 17:04 ]
I can't believe they left out Anna Paquin's horrible Southern accent in X-men. I still cry when I hear it. Especially when they cast her in another Southern role with "True Blood". Anyone know if she's going to have that tragic fadin' in and out accent again?

I've seen the pilot but I don't know what you mean by "tragic fadin' in and out."

All I know is that Anna's accent sounded a whole lot more believable to me than the accent of a woman from South Carolina that I spent the afternoon with in North Carolina last month - by the end of 2 hours I wanted to ask her if she was deliberately putting it on for my benefit - she just sounded so over-the-top Southern!
Did Spike embellish his accent for effect? Or was that his inner demon :).
EFC (hope no one saw that Freudian slip) John Barrowman has an accent in Torchwood? I think I'm too busy staring to care ... (Tonya's one allowed sexist remark per year)

[ edited by Tonya J on 2008-08-26 17:10 ]
Funny that she picked on James for Buffy, his accent isn't perfect but it's one of the better ones on the show. David Boreanaz's accent on the other hand... actually being from Galway may make me extra sensitive but my god, it was terrible.

I can't believe Heroes didn't get a mention. Mohinder's ever changing accent is strange enough, but the Cork accents were just painful.
I thought Mohinder's accent was pretty decent in season 1, I didn't realise he was American until I saw him in interview (but my exposure to Indian English accents is fairly limited) though the Irish ones on there were indeed, err, not great ;).

EFC (hope no one saw that Freudian slip)

No, no, no-one at all. Ahem ;).

The thing about Barrowman's American accent is, it's not put on, it's just acquired later in life (he was in his teens when they moved IIRC - his brother certainly was cos he apparently could've tried out for Rangers but the family emigrated) so it's bound to be a bit of a mixture.
James Barrowman. I can't believe I typed that. Hey, maybe they are each other when not being who we think they are! It's all physics, man.
No, that's not physics, Tonya J, that's you typing with your inside mind. Its like an inside voice in that you should be careful about using it in public ;).

I've seen the pilot but I don't know what you mean by "tragic fadin' in and out."


However, having seen the pilot of True Blood, you do know the real meaning of tragic ;).

I actually travel specifically to pick up accents, so I was very excited to finally get over to Scotland a few years back and try to pick up a couple. Glaswegian accents are insane, but very fun to attempt. My fave Scottish accents are probably the ones near Perthshire and Paisley. Marsters's accent was decent, though I never confused him for a Brit, DB's "oirish" makes my head hurt, very much enjoyed Denisof's and suspected he had spent time in England before I knew that it was the case.
Well I'm a Brit and still have to tell fellow Brits that James is neither blond, British or thirty five ( he is, of course, a vampire)

It wasn't flawless but he did a pretty great job of posh kid playing tough, if you disregard *poof* and *bollocks* :)
I'm one of those people who tends to pick up the accent of the people I'm around. Having worked with a few people from England, with educated accents, I find myself saying schedule (she jool) and negotiate (ne go see ate) and some other words as they do. So I probably sound a bit like Barrowman. Also, when my English coworkers would converse together, even with their educated London accents, their accents would get heavier and heavier if there were no Americans in the conversation. The vowels would get plummier. The consonants odder.

I didn't find Marsters' accent painful. As someone pointed out, he was playing a character who was educated but passing himself off as working class. He also had to speak in a way that was intelligible to Americans. I watch a lot of British television and sometimes when they get into the North Country or non-urban accents I find myself having to turn on closed captioning to follow along.

Denisof was good and pleasant to listen to, but lightened up for American consumption, similar to what's called a mid-Atlantic accent, an accent that is halfway between English and American. Boreanaz couldn't maintain an accent. It would sound good one minute, then collapse the next.
Yeah it's amazing how we subconsciously alter our accents so people can understand us, or even just to assert "in-group" commonalities, the degree varies but I think most people do that to some extent, even if it only amounts to avoiding slang or referencing shared experiences when you're with people that are new to the group (and i've been in groups that've failed to do it too of course and left some poor soul totally adrift in a sea of foreign slang, half-finished phrases and totally raw accents - once with a Yank and once with a French guy. Bit off really).

Glaswegian accents are insane, but very fun to attempt. My fave Scottish accents are probably the ones near Perthshire and Paisley.

Aw, shucks (my neck of the woods, brother and sister were both born in Paisley in fact ;).

Has anyone ever seen 'Rab C Nesbitt' on US TV BTW ? I ask because someone told me once that they showed it but with subtitles, always wondered if that were true (I almost don't want to know in case it isn't ;).
Those Irish accents on Heroes are the worst I've ever heard, but probably don't get much of a mention because they were fairly minor parts.

My favorite accent to listen to and try to mimic is the Scouse accent from Liverpool. It's just so unique and awesome. If I could ever master that accent I'd use it all the time.
Alexis didn't fool me for a second, but I think that's probably because the standard English accent to fake is the RP one and so whenever I hear that I'm suspicious straight off. It didn't stand out as much when he moved from Buffy to Angel, probably due to the change in character so that he more rounded and less stereotype.

James has a passable accent, as others have pointed out there are a few words he gets wrong (patronise) that can take me out of the moment but overall he does well and can carry it off. I remember discussing the show with my English Language teacher(yay, cool teacher!) and she wouldn't believe he was faking it though she was sure ASH was putting it on. Can't blame her though, I was convinced Mark Sheppard was faking it for ages.

Worst accent in Joss' work? Surely it must be a fight between Molly and Kendra.
I thought he was really english. I was in utter shock when I heard him speak in his real accent. Of course I'm a "bloody colonial" so what do I know?
I can just imagine people running to waste part of their afternoon looking for different accents on YouTube.

I can actually imagine Rab getting subtitled for US telly, but I can't tell you if its true or not.
JM really does have a bad English accent, he can't get his vowels right which means it's a dead giveaway all the time.
Add me to the many that gaped at IMDB many moons ago when I checked on James Marsters and Alexis Denisof.
If anyone knows what dialect Benicio del Toro was attempting in The Usual Suspects, there's a shiny dime in it for you. And as far as vowels go, I don't think the average viewer would be able to tell at all. To my American ear, James sounded "right," I mean he at least made an effort, unlike his Lucky Charms colleague (an anomaly in an otherwise indelible performance and character).
James' accent was pretty good overall, the big giveaway for me is in season 4 when he tries to say 'squirrel' and pronounces it 'squirl'. As an English woman I can say with confidence that was way off - I had to put on subtitles to see what he meant!

Alexis was stellar. As always.

Gotta agree with Leaf - Molly's accent hurt my ears. And I was never sure why Kennedy apologised for 'the British invasion' when she was the onky non-Brit who walked through the door in that ep.

Kendras dodgy accent is one of my guilty pleasures of the show - love it! And I love the impression Buffy does of it - spot on.
Kendra's accent is one of the very few fake accents where i've genuinely not even known where she was meant to come from. Jamaica seems like a possibility (now, after a few viewings) but I wouldn't bet my last pound on it ;). Nice performance otherwise though.

Juliet Landau and Summer trying cockney are both probably up there too, not denigrating them because JL somehow made it work with Dru just through sheer force of performance and Summer was actually speaking with a Londoner, so it's gonna stand out even more. Also, I think Cockney is maybe the hardest English accent to fake, English actors have failed miserably trying it too.

JM's vowels were a bit all over the shop but then, you get that with some English accents too, if the owner's moved from North to South (or vice versa) at a fairly early age. I recall he had trouble with 'Mum' a few times though, sometimes it came out more like 'Moom' (which, y'know, no, not ever ;) and other times he'd float somewhere between long and short vowels (either somewhere around Bermuda or Kettering, depending, but "in-between" anyway ;).
I thought that idea that Spike had to have a true English accent kind of odd. He'd been wandering the world for a hundred years, learning demon and human languages and since the way he spoke was something he adopted, I could see where it would warp. I always thought he worked very hard to keep that sort of accent (even though it could have slipped into something else), as a sort of 'chick magnet'. It suited the persona he wanted to project.
Tonya J, Hugh Laurie fooled Bryan Singer during his screen test for House. He most assuredly does have that accent down well.
Yep, Singer said that himself. I reckon he was setup though (i.e. someone skipped it forward before they showed it to him) cos have you seen it ? Laurie speaks in his normal voice at the start, bit of a giveaway that i'dve thought ;). And does he nail it right off the bat or what BTW ?

(it's not great sound though in fairness and his voice sounds a bit gruffer than usual - maybe his throat was dry, I think that was during the filming of the 'Flight of the Phoenix' remake in Namibia ;)
Glaswegian accents are insane, but very fun to attempt. My fave Scottish accents are probably the ones near Perthshire and Paisley.

Aw, shucks (my neck of the woods, brother and sister were both born in Paisley in fact ;).


My neck of the woods too, which means I actually got Saje's Mount Vernon comment ;). My accent is relatively soft Glaswegian (so not too insane ;). Really I'm sort of half-Glasgow, half-Paisley and it just depends where I am as to which I say (and more crucially here, which football team I say I support ;).

Worst accent in Buffy has to be the English potential in S7 (I guess that's Molly). Perhaps not quite as bad as Daphne's family in Frasier, but still utterly horrendous. Kendra's accent always sounds to me like a ridiculously over exaggerated Jamaican accent, but I don't really have the experience to judge it. JM's isn't right, but it's not bad and I just accept it as Spike's voice. AD's is pretty good, still a little mid-Atlantic, but at least 3/4th of the way over ;).
I'm a bit confused zeitgeist because Paisley is right next door to Glasgow so to most people (including me who once lived in Nitshill (the most charming name ever) which is also close to Glasgow and Paisley) the accents would sound the same.

ETA: unless you are a linguist and then I'll shut up...

[ edited by moley75 on 2008-08-26 23:11 ]
Kendra's accent is one of the very few fake accents where i've genuinely not even known where she was meant to come from. Jamaica seems like a possibility (now, after a few viewings) but I wouldn't bet my last pound on it ;). Nice performance otherwise though.


Ding, ding, ding. You got it right Saje. It is Jamaica. But it's some obscure high mountain one village accent. Apparently, they got Bianca a dialect coach and she nailed the accent he gave her. The problem was, it was so obscure no one knew where she was supposed to be from.
I know they are near one another, but they don't sound alike to me. Am I alone in that? Perhaps its just that I'm not familiar with all of the variants of regional accent? The people I've heard speak from the two places don't sound alike to me. The Glaswegians have always seemed to speak in a thicker, denser accent (maybe its a class distinction?). I could probably describe it linguistically if I gave it a go, though its been years since I studied any linguistics.

ETA - heh, while I was editing this to mention class distinction Saje posted saying the same.
The problem was, it was so obscure no one knew where she was supposed to be from.

Ah, that's a bit unfortunate resa, she was actually too good at the accent ? ;)

Paisley is right next door to Glasgow so to most people ... the accents would sound the same.

Away tae fuck ;-). Yeah, they're similar in some ways (rhythm, word order etc.) but I guess it's a lot (mainly ?) to do with class too cos Rab is decidedly working class (or would be if he worked ;) and very much from Govan. A lot of the people I grew up hearing (in Johnston so, what, maybe 6-8 miles roughly due West - and down a bit ;) - from Govan ?) that made an effort - for whatever reason - to "speak properly" probably sounded more like Stanley Baxter or Gregor Fisher (who played him and pops up about 2:35 in).

David Tennant has what i'd call a not atypical middle-class Paisley area accent or Steven Moffat if you've heard him speak (obviously a lot of true Glaswegians sound like that too but it's very far from what folk - maybe including zeitgeist - consider "full-on" Glesgae I reckon ... byraway ;).

ETA: (and more crucially here, which football team I say I support ;)

Yeah, it's a minefield cypher. Just say St Mirren then you can run away while they're doubled up laughing (whenever any of my English mates asked where we were in the SPL last year I always said 11th from top ;).

[ edited by Saje on 2008-08-26 23:42 ]
Should've guessed it was a working class vs. middle class thing. Yeah, Tennant/Moffat vs. say John Smeaton talking quickly is kinda what I was thinking.
Smeato-Man ! His legend lives on ;).
Damn. No one knows the answer to my The Usual Suspects question? I can't go to my cremation NOT KNOWING!
I think he might have been trying for a 150 year old, well travelled vampire from America ;).
OK, clearly out of my depth here regarding west coast accents so I'll just say that I love an Aberdonian one.
Nah, I think you're broadly right moley75, if you compare any urban accent class for class within about 20 miles of Glasgow I think they'd all sound fairly similar. There's no need to start taking up with east coasters ;).
Except that is where my affinity lies...
This is what Bianca Lawson was quoted as saying about Kendra's accent in SFX... according to the Buffy Trivia website:

“I really hated that accent! I got the part, and I didn’t originally have an accent. Then, literally the night before, they said, “What about a Jamaican accent?” So it’s one of those things where, y’know, I just had to put it on tape, but I didn’t have a chance to get comfortable with it. And the thing is, certain things - if you say it properly [in Jamaican patois], people don’t really fully understand it, so they would change things. They’d say, “Well, say it like this” and it’s like, “Would that be accurate in that accent though?” “It doesn’t matter because no-one’s going to understand you!” So different people were giving their interpretations of it. I was like “But everyone’s going to think that I’m doing it wrong!” So personally, I wasn’t happy with the accent!”
hmmm... I wonder why they chose James over some of the other accents in Buffy? they seem to dislike his work over at io9, which is not maligning them, they said it themselves.

"A trilogy? Of James Marsters movies? As anyone who's seen Marsters in anything should know by now, that can't be a good thing."

O.O ?
I wasn't convinced by anyone except for Anthony Head, because I knew he was British. Of course, with the actors being perfect for their roles, I can't complain after the fact!

A note about Sark in Alias. Even a great deal of seasoned theater actors (Ron Rifkin, for example) were not aware at first that he was actually American. That could've been, in part, due to his age (he was 19 when he was cast, I believe), so I was led to believe it was fairly decent, a reflection of an upper class background, but also of a man who has traveled often. They also establish that from his pronunciations, he spent most of his childhood in Galway, which means nothing to me, but would be a way of explaining the properness of his accent.
Wait a minute, Sark was meant to be Irish ? Surely not ? His English accent wasn't bad I thought, you could tell but you had to listen for the "spot words" that'll give a less than perfect accent away ('garage' for instance though there're at least two ways that's said in England too) because most of it was pretty passable RP.

I wasn't convinced by anyone except for Anthony Head, because I knew he was British.

Does that mean if you hadn't known you wouldn't have been convinced by him either ? Cos I thought his English accent was pretty much flawless ;).

Except that is where my affinity lies...

Ah well, nobody's perfect ;-).

[ edited by Saje on 2008-08-27 09:35 ]
Another "bloody Colonial, what do I know?" here, but I watched BtS through season 6, thinking James was indeed English.

From the other side of the perspective, I didn't know untill the end of BSG season 2, that Jamie Bamber wasn't American, so he gets my nod for "best American accent by an Englishman".

I was also fooled by Dominic West on The Wire, but then I'm West Coast American, so I attributed the occasional odd intonation to the Baltimore location of the show.

Another excellent American accent by an English actor is the incomparable (with any accent) Damien Lewis. After being mesmerized by Band of Brothers, I saw him in an English film and it just floored me.
He also does a great job with it on Life. As did Kevin Kidd on the late, lamented Journeyman.

The absolute worst American accents ever? Anyone on Dr. Who. But especially the ep set in the "Hooverville", in depression area New York.
From the woman who was supposed to be a New Yorker to the guy who was supposed to be from Kentucky. That was the most embarrassing attempt at a Southern accent (any region of the American South), I've ever heard.

[ edited by Shey on 2008-08-27 13:38 ]
From the other side of the perspective, I didn't know untill the end of BSG season 2, that Jamie Bamber wasn't American, so he gets my nod for "best American accent by an Englishman".


I think Hugh Laurie (House) might duke it out with Jamie for "best American accent by an Englishman" :)

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