The Worst American Accents on TV

Fall TV

It never stops being weird. You fall in love with a character, you feel like you know him, and then you see him on Leno or at Comic-Con and what?! What happened to his voice? Oh my God, he's a foreigner! Brits have been playing iconic American roles for years (what's more American than "There Will Be Blood" — Daniel Day-Lewis is British? Or "Superman" — Henry Cavill is British?) and now they're all over our TV screens.

Who would have pegged Ed Westwick from "Gossip Girl" as not American? You only would have known that Gregory House, MD, was British if you watched a lot of PBS in the '80s. But, of course, now that there are so many of them, their American accents aren't all universally impeccable.

ENTV takes a look at some TV actors using fake accents:


Here, in order of best accent to worst, are some of the most standout non-American actors playing American television characters.

Archie Panjabi ("The Good Wife")— Born: England. You win an Emmy, you get to be on the top of this list. Period.

Panjabi chats with Jimmy Fallon:

Toni Collette ("Hostages") — Born: Australia. After three seasons of "United States of Tara," she's got seven times the accent experience of anyone else on this list.

Collette on "CBS This Morning":




Andrew Lincoln ("The Walking Dead") — Born: England. Lincoln stays in his American accent the entire time he's on set and even when he walks down to the local coffee shop. The work he puts in shows.

David Morrissey ("The Walking Dead") — Born: England. Must be the zombies, because you'd never suspect the Governor was anything other than Georgia born and bred.

Morrissey on "Larry King Now":

Freddie Highmore ("Bates Motel") — Born: England. There really should be a dialect of American called "American Psycho" because it seems that all the crazies have it. It's like standard American, only it's got a really stabby, choky kind of vibe.

Highmore in a "Bates Motel" spoof:

Damien Lewis ("Homeland") — Born: England. An accent so good, he got elected to Congress.

James Purefoy ("The Following") — Born: England. Still not entirely sure he isn't American.

Purefoy at Comic-Con:

Tammin Sursok ("Pretty Little Liars") — Born: South Africa. Well, of course she's good at lying about where she's from — it's right there in the show's title.

Sursock on "Today":


Lauren Cohan ("The Walking Dead") — Born: U.S. Raised: England. She's got a leg up because she was born in the States.

Cohan on "Larry King Now":


Josh Bowman ("Revenge") — Born: England. Growing up in the Hamptons means it's OK to sound just the teeniest bit British once in a while, so he's off the hook.

Charlie Hunnam ("Sons of Anarchy") — Born: England. Not bad, but maybe "SoA" should do what "Pacific Rim" did and only have Hunnam speak in a series of grunts and frownie faces.

Hunnam on the red carpet:

Simon Baker ("The Mentalist") — Born: Australia. If you're not sure whether someone has a fake American accent, see if the character ever talks really fast when he's excited. It may be a character choice, or it may be because he's too busy remembering to pronounce his "r" sounds to do it properly.

Clare Bowen ("Nashville") — Born: Australia. Maybe it's because we're comparing it to a vague childhood memory of Dolly Parton rather than real human beings, but this sounds pretty good.

Alex Kingston ("Arrow") — Born: England. Oh, come on — she spent seven seasons on "ER" with a British accent. Let her have it back!

Jesse Spencer ("Chicago Fire") — Born: Australia. And again: You should get special dispensation to speak in your native tongue if you were already a series regular on a medical procedural. It's just common sense.

Alex O'Loughlin ("Hawaii Five-0") — Born: Australia. Every time we see him with his shirt on, he drops a slot lower on the list.

Sam Palladio ("Nashville") — Born: England. More singing, less talking!

Bowen and Palladio singing on "Nashville":


Kevin McKidd ("Grey's Anatomy") — Born: Scotland. We love Dr. Hunt dearly, but he latches on to his r's like a pit bull on a teddy bear.

Grant Bowler ("Defiance") — Born: New Zealand. Man, it's the future. There are extraterrestrial aliens living on Earth. Why bother sticking him with a lousy American accent? Let Grant be Grant!

Rebel Wilson ("Super Fun Night") — Born: Australia. If your accent is one of the things about you that we fell in love with ("Bridesmaids," "Pitch Perfect"), it doesn't matter how good your American accent is: We're not buying it.

Ryan Kwanten ("True Blood") — Born: Australia. Horrible accent for a person, yes. Horrible accent for a cartoon character, though? Jason Stackhouse is basically Chicken Hawk from the old Bugs Bunny cartoons, and he nails that.

Stephen Moyer ("True Blood") — Born: England. He sort of gets a pass because, hey, he's a 180-year-old vampire; maybe everybody talked like William Shatner playing Scarlett O'Hara in 1835. But it's still awful.

Phoebe Tonkin ("The Originals") — Born: Australia. Proving that werewolves can have accents just as awful as vampires. Maybe it's the fangs that make it difficult.

Tonkin talks "The Originals":


Anna Paquin ("True Blood") — Born: Canada. Raised: New Zealand. She has one of the worst accents on television, and that's still only about the sixth-silliest thing on "True Blood."

Jonathan Rhys Meyers ("Dracula") — Born: Ireland. Why does Dracula need a fake American accent? He's Dracula! Even CBS knew that Sherlock Holmes needed to stay British. Even "The Hunt for Red October" knew to just leave Sean Connery's accent alone.