×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Study Ranks American Actors’ British Accents and Vice Versa

Anyone who’s seen “Mary Poppins” knows what a bad Cockney accent sounds like. But for the first time, British actors have ranked Dick Van Dyke’s “mockney” as the worst attempt at a U.K. accent in a pool of the highest grossing films’ leads.

Language-learning app Babbel commissioned ex-pat professional actors from both the U.K. and U.S. to vote on a five-point scale on how convincing the accents were for leading parts in blockbusters grossing over $100 million.

For the United States accent, American Actors UK awarded British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor a 4.5/5 for his work as Solomon Northup in “12 Years a Slave.” Tied for second are the DC superheros; Christian Bale as Batman and Henry Cavill as Superman both garnered 4.2/5 scores.

Best in show for the Americans attempting the over-the-pond accents, awarded by British Actors in LA, are Meryl Streep, Gwyneth Paltrow and Renée Zellweger. Streep’s Margaret Thatcher (4.9/5) in 2011’s “The Iron Lady” was so convincing that her performance earned her an Oscar for lead actress. In “Shakespeare in Love,” Gwyneth Paltrow plays Shakespeare’s lover Viola de Lesseps, a role deserving of a 4.7/5 score (and an Oscar win). For the titular role of Bridget Jones in the 2001 film, the Oscar-nominated Zellweger was awarded a 4.5/5.

“We thought it would be incredibly interesting to compare accents on either side of the pond,” said Katja Wilde, head of didactics at Babbel. “Given the timing of the cinematic awards season, it made perfect sense to analyze Hollywood’s most famous English and American accents on screen.”

While it’s all fun-and-games for the high scorers, other performers were less successful than their winning counterparts.

Kevin Costner beat out Van Dyke for second worst with 2/5 for his lead in “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.” Van Dyke, as chimney sweep Bert in “Mary Poppins,” got a meager 1.6/5. As bad as it sounds, Wilde “doubt[s] his score will come as a shock to him.” Van Dyke’s joked about the role for years.

Unfortunately for “Twilight” fans, Robert Pattinson’s American accent in the franchise earned him a lesser 3.5/5. Even worse was Kate Winslet in “Titanic,” whose Philadelphian drawl only got a 2.4/5.

“It was a bit difficult to see that Kate Winslet received such a low score of 2.4 out of 5, Wilde added. “Still, despite her lack of mastery, she gave a ravishing performance in one of the most iconic cinematic films of all time.”

See the full results below:

Brits Playing Americans

Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup in “12 Years a Slave” (2013): 4.5 out of 5
Christian Bale as Batman in “The Dark Knight” (2008): 4.2 out of 5
Henry Cavill as Superman in “The Man of Steel” (2013): 4.2 out of 5
Emma Watson in “Perks of Being a Wallflower” (2012): 4.1 out of 5
Clive Owen in “Inside Man” (2006): 4.1 out of 5
Benedict Cumberbatch in “Doctor Strange” (2016): 3.9 out of 5
John Boyega in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (2015): 3.7 out of 5
Rosamund Pike in “Gone Girl” (2014): 3.5 out of 5
Robert Pattinson in the “Twilight” franchise: 3.5 out of 5
Kate Winslet in “Titanic” (1997): 2.4 out of 5

Americans Playing Brits

Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady” (2011): 4.9 out of 5
Gwyneth Paltrow in “Shakespeare in Love” (1998): 4.7 out of 5
Renée Zellweger as the title character in “Bridget Jones’s Diary” (2011): 4.5 out of 5
Robert Downey Jr. as the titular British detective “Sherlock Holmes” (2009): 4.3 out of 5
Sean Astin as Samwise Gamgee in “The Lord of the Rings” franchise: 3.8 out of 5
Natalie Portman as Evey in “V for Vendetta” (2005): 3.5 out of 5
Angelina Jolie, as the title character in “Maleficent” (2014): 3.3 out of 5
Johnny Depp in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise: 3.0 out of 5
Kevin Costner as the lead in “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” (1991): 2.0 out of 5
Dick Van Dyke in “Mary Poppins” (1964): 1.6 out of 5

More Film

  • Disney Fox Takeover Placeholder

    Disney, Fox Employees Grapple With Day One Transition on Two Hollywood Lots

    What kind of a boss will Disney be? That’s a question facing employees at 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight, National Geographic Partners, FX Networks, and other assorted parts of Rupert Murdoch’s former media empire. Wednesday was their first full day as staffers of the Walt Disney Co. and the initial moves have done little to [...]

  • Derek Tsang Hong Kong actor Derek

    'Better Days' Director Derek Tsang Lands in World Cinema Spotlight

    Hong Kong actor-director Derek Kwok-cheung Tsang has recently found himself in the spotlight of the world of cinema, but for the wrong reason. Tsang will be joining a Hong Kong filmmakers panel at FilMart on Thursday with Sunny Chan (“Man on the Dragon”) and Pang Ho-cheung (“Love in a Puff”). The 39-year-old filmmaker was expecting [...]

  • Jen Hollingsworth Lionsgate

    Lionsgate Promotes Jen Hollingsworth to Chief Operating Officer of Motion Picture Group

    Lionsgate veteran executive Jen Hollingsworth has been promoted to the newly created post of chief operating officer of Lionsgate Motion Picture Group. She will work closely with Motion Picture Group chairman Joe Drake to ensure the film division’s strategic initiatives and corporate priorities encourage filmmakers’ artistic visions to thrive. Hollingsworth will also head up the [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Solstice Studios Boards Thriller 'Unhinged' From 'Disturbia' Writer (EXCLUSIVE)

    Solstice Studios has acquired “Unhinged,” a psychological thriller from “Disturbia” screenwriter Carl Ellsworth and “Warrior” producer Lisa Ellzey. The studio is currently out to directors. The script revolves around an extreme case of “road rage.” It’s the story of a mother whose decision to hit her horn upsets the wrong guy and leads to some [...]

  • No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No

    'Bill & Ted 3' Sets 2020 Summer Release Date

    Excellent! “Bill & Ted 3” has a release date. Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter will return to the big screen in “Bill & Ted Face the Music” on Aug. 21, 2020. The duo made the announcement in a short video shot at the Hollywood Bowl, where they’ll “never play.” Production began on Wednesday. Reeves will [...]

  • Elizabeth Debicki

    Elizabeth Debicki and Robert Pattinson Join Christopher Nolan's Next Film (EXCLUSIVE)

    Elizabeth Debicki and Robert Pattinson are on board to co-star with John David Washington in Christopher Nolan’s next movie, Variety has learned. Nolan recently finished the script for the currently untitled film and Warner Bros. quickly dated it for July 17, 2020 — a slot the studio often reserves for the director, most recently with “Dunkirk.” [...]

  • Sir Lionel Frost (left) voiced by

    Why 'Missing Link's' Title Character Was One of Laika's Biggest Challenges

    Stop-motion studio Laika pushes design boundaries in every film it makes, and the lead character in “Missing Link” is no exception. “It became pretty apparent that [the character] Link was going to be the cornerstone,” says director and writer Chris Butler. “I did this rough drawing many years ago, and it was basically like a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content