British/Irish Actors Playing Americans

Everybody else has done this post, so I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon. I’m going to start by not talking about David Tennant’s American accent in the Broadchurch remake Gracepoint because you’ve heard it before. Everybody knows Hugh Laurie does an extraordinarily convincing American accent in House, and that Andrew Lincoln and David Morrissey are rocking the American accents in The Walking Dead, so I’ll try not to bore you with rehashing of older posts. Hopefully some of these will be new for you.

This is embarrassing. The American remake of England’s Life on Mars starred Irishman Jason O’Mara playing New York cop Sam Tyler. Surprisingly, despite the disaster that was the writing, the miscasting of the great Harvey Keitel, and the big shoes John Simm left to fill, O’Mara was actually a pretty darn good Sam Tyler. It’s a difficult role because he’s in every single scene, since it’s all meant to be from his point of view. Plus, he has to straddle that line of being likable and being emo. Like in many roles where an actor is doing a foreign accent over many episodes, the writers let him slip into his native Dublin tongue for an episode when he goes undercover in an Irish gang.

The Riches is a 2006 comedy-drama that aired on FX, and I feel it’s highly underrated. Brits Minnie Driver and Eddie Izzard play an American married couple who flee their lives as gypsies to raise their three children in a normal life where they don’t need to pick-pocket and con people to make a living. Of course, they do anyway because that’s their nature. Driver has a Southern accent that hides the Brit in her pretty well. Izzard’s accent is American, too, but you hear a lot of Izzard-isms in his inflection. Again, the writers allow them to do British accents (even if they’re not exactly their real accents) when they go undercover as lawyers.

For a bonus point, you can catch Eddie Izzard and Brit Hugh Dancy doing American accents in Hannibal.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard Americans gasp when they learn that Dominic West has an English accent after hearing his American one on The Wire. (And for those people, I say to you, “Why the hell haven’t you seen 28 Days yet? It’s American. You’ll like it.”) Most people seem to know that Idras Elba is actually British, probably because he’s been getting a lot of attention lately. His show Luther was promoted like crazy on BBC America and has won awards.

I haven’t seen Selfie, but it looks ridiculous…and just what America ordered, I’m guessing. I like Doctor Who‘s Karen Gillan (of Scotland) a lot, and she does a darn good American character (and I like John Cho a lot, too), but I will not be watching this show. But what do I know. Maybe it’s good.

An actual British Show, Doctor Who, features in a couple episodes Brit Mark Sheppard as American fed. Seems weird to not just have an American play the role, but then remember, Mark Sheppard’s awesome. You can also hear his American accent in the Syfy Channel original movie Deep Shockif you’re into that sort of thing.

Mark Addy doesn’t really sound New Yorky in Still Standing, but he does sound American at least. Playing opposite Jamie Gertz, Addy’s character Bill is a likable patriarch to the family in one of the funnier family sitcoms America has to offer.

This one’s cheating because it’s a film, not television, but it’s always baffled me a little. The Men Who Stare at Goats is a non-fiction book by Welshman Jon Ronson, and the film is based on that book. Scotsman Ewan McGregor’s character Bob is basically meant to be Jon…except they seem to have gone out of their way to make McGregor’s character American. What is the point of this? I know Scotland and Wales are not exactly the same, but surely America is much more different. The best guess I have is that an American discovering what an effed up country he lives in makes him the victim of his own civilization, whereas a foreigner coming in and pointing out all the flaws of America could be slightly less sympathetic. Thoughts? Leave ’em in comments.

BBC America created a new paranormal drama starring this anglonerd’s favorite actor, John Simm, who has adapted an American accent for the role in Intruders. Although it was thrilling to see Simm back doing paranorma or sci-fi weirdity, this show was short lived and cancelled after one season.

Oh my God, you guys. I don’t generally give a nod to non-scifi or non-paranormal dramas here on Anglonerd, especially not American ones, but Fargo is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship, and Martin Freeman brings his A game to the role. Pretty convincing Minnesota accent, too, or as real as anyone from Fargo can sound. And who doesn’t want to see Martin Freeman bash someone’s head in with a hammer?


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