When it comes to an actor transforming him or herself to embody their new character, they pull out all the stops. They do their research, duh – then sometimes embark on some crazy diets and workout regimes to become the person they’ve been cast to play. Some performers even go method and start acting like their character 24/7. But another thing some actors need to do to get in character? Morph their voices to drop the accents they were born with and put on a totally foreign one. Considering the fact that they can do so without ever slipping into their native dialect, we’re beyond impressed.
Of course, since authentic accents play such an integral role in every fictional character’s credibility and overall appeal, we imagine that these celebs did their homework and trained with a dialect coach round the clock. But still, you’ve got to admit, it’s rather striking to see how they can easily switch off their real accents to put on another!
See which character accents were so convincing you probably thought they were real:
19. Felix from Orphan Black
Portrayed by: Jordan Gavaris
He may sound like a true Brit on the show, but Felix is actually not British at all. Jordan is a Canadian actor who worked closely with a dialect coach to become Felix on Orphan Black. But he also proved to the world that it is possible to master the British accent!
In fact, he nailed it so well that he fooled other British people into thinking that he was one of them. He said: “Even Jerome Flynn thought I was English. This was last year. I saw him again at TCA and he thought I was English. Maria Doyle Kennedy [who plays Mrs. S.] thought I was English in the read through. When I turned it off after the read through, she was very taken aback. But I love the accent. It’s given me freedom to go after other roles and auditions, to experiment with different voices. This role has been by far the most liberating experience that anyone my age could have.”
18. Owen Hunt from Grey’s Anatomy
Portrayed by: Kevin McKidd
We all know him as the talented American surgeon on Grey’s Anatomy, but you might be surprised to know that Kevin has a strong Scottish accent in real life. He was born in Elgin, Moray, Scotland and he first started out with mainly Scottish roles. But if you’re curious to hear what he really sounds like, just check out the voices of Lord MacGuffin and his son Young MacGuffin in Disney’s Brave. (Fair warning, you probably won’t understand most of what they’re trying to say.)
17. Jo Wilson from Grey’s Anatomy
Portrayed by: Camilla Luddington
Like her Grey’s co-star, Kevin, Camilla also hid her native accent on the show (she’s from Ascot, Berkshire, England). While filming a scene for an episode, she and Kevin actually used their accents to play a little prank. She once tweeted: “McKidd and I may or may not have just played a joke on our director and used our real accents for the entire take of a scene.” LOL!
If you’re wondering how she managed to pull off the American accent so well, it just might be because she’s been practicing since childhood. She said: “Even at five, I would go to the supermarket and pretend I had an American accent. I knew I wanted to act and that Hollywood and America were where the movie stars were. So to impersonate an American was the coolest thing.”
16. Chris Washington from Get Out
Portrayed by: Daniel Kaluuya
Did anyone else freak out when they learned that Daniel (aka the American photographer who went to visit his girlfriend’s parents in Get Out) was actually British? He blended in so well that he literally could’ve gotten away with convincing everyone he was really an American!
In an interview, he explained how people tend to react when they hear his real accent: “People are weirded out. They’re like, ‘Oh, you’re British, man?’ And I’m like ‘Yeah I am, mate.’ It’s tough because I just stay in the accent. If I haven’t got like family around or my girl around I just stay in the American accent, like going to Walmart and stay in an American accent, and then when someone’s figured out, they’re flipping out. But I think it really helps ’cause I like to improvise on set.”
15. Amy Elliott Dunne from Gone Girl
Portrayed by: Rosamund Pike
Rosamund is best known for her role as the missing wife in Gone Girl, where she played an American. But though she sounded like a natural, she explained that she struggled to nail the accent. She said: “I had a great dialect coach. You work like you’re learning a foreign language. We speak the same language, but we also really don’t.” We couldn’t agree more!
14. Charlotte “Chuck” Charles from Pushing Daisies
Portrayed by: Anna Friel
Anna is actually British! And apparently, we weren’t the only ones who got fooled into thinking that she was really American. Back when the show was still on air, Anna said: “A lot of people out there don’t know I’m English. Now when I speak to the American crew in my normal voice they say, ‘Will you stop doing that funny accent?'”
She also explained that she often prefers to keep her fake accent between scenes because it helps her stay in character. She said: “My dad’s a linguist, and I speak French and take great pride in my accents. I start a characterization with my voice and I don’t want to lose it. It’s a form of superstition for me – and it helps me concentrate.”
13. Chuck Bass from Gossip Girl
Portrayed by: Ed Westwick
Ed hid all traces of his British accent as Chuck in Gossip Girl. But not without the help of one of the most iconic characters from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air! He said: “There’s a slight thing in Carlton Banks… that kind of uber-preppy, that I did pick up on.” We can’t believe we never noticed the similarities before, but he definitely nailed the accent!
12. Vivian Johnson from Without A Trace
Portrayed by: Marianne Jean-Baptiste
Marianne played an American FBI agent on the show, and because of her cadence and effortless accent, viewers automatically assumed that she was an American. But actually, it turns out that she was raised in England. Even after taking on so many American roles in shows like Blindspot and How To Get Away With Murder, her real-life South London accent is still stronger than ever.
11. Rick Grimes from The Walking Dead
Portrayed by: Andrew Lincoln
He may have a deep Southern accent on The Walking Dead, but Officer Rick Grimes is actually from England. Understandably, his cast mates were shocked to hear what he really sounded like behind the scenes. He said: “A lot of cast are here today asking what I’m doing with that accent, it’s the weirdest thing. They are a bit freaked out. I get a bit coy around them so I may slip into my dialect.”
Andrew also admitted that, because of his time on the show, his English accent doesn’t come as naturally: “This isn’t normal anymore, I’m American now… It’s a very strange schizophrenic life that I lead and I love it in a strange, twisted kind of way.”
10. Greg House from House
Portrayed by: Hugh Laurie
It’s safe to say that our jaws dropped to the floor when we found out that Dr. House is actually British. But here’s what’s crazy: The producers of the show insisted on hiring a “quintessentially American person” for the role, and so they’d stopped considering British actors altogether. But apparently, that didn’t stop Hugh from sending in an audition tape with his best American accent. Bryan Singer, one of the producers, was so impressed that he hired Hugh on the spot – not knowing that he was actually British! Oh, what we’d have given to see his reaction when he finally learned the truth…
9. Edward Cullen from Twilight
Portrayed by: Rob Pattinson
The English actor is best known for his roles in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and the Twilight Saga, but he also starred in several other films as a pretty convincing American. Some fans were concerned that this might cause him to lose his sophisticated British accent, but Rob assured everyone that it wasn’t going anywhere. He said: “I guess I don’t spend that much time in England. But I hope I’m not [losing my accent]. I don’t have the concern.” Whew. Good to know!
8. Stringer Bell from The Wire
Portrayed by: Idris Elba
The British actor has played countless American roles, but perhaps his most memorable performance was on The Wire, where he played a Baltimore drug kingpin named Stringer. His American accent was so perfect that when we first found out he was from England, we did a double take. But it took him about three years to get that accent down, and his method was pretty interesting. He told The View: “I used to go to the barber shop to perfect my accent. If you want to talk about the basketball game in an English accent it just don’t come across as good – you can’t get your point across!”
7. Jimmy McNulty from The Wire
Portrayed by: Dominic West
Believe it or not, Idris wasn’t the only Brit who flawlessly hid his accent on the The Wire. Dominic, who’s also from London, England, pretty much fooled fans into thinking he was American for a long time. But of course, that only came after he went through a bit of coaching.
In an interview he said: “Whenever I open my mouth in a room full of Wire fans I’m conscious of a sort of, rather deflation of ‘Oh dear… He’s not McNulty.’ But it’s nice that people thought I was American.”
6. Jason Stackhouse from True Blood
Portrayed by: Ryan Kwanten
Considering the fact that he’s actually Australian, that Louisiana twang on True Blood was nothing short of impressive. As for how he got the accent down, he said: “I wish I could say it was a long process of learning and arduous kind of hours. I obviously do my research of where it’s shooting and the various types of accents within Louisiana and in discussions with the director and with Alan you hang on something. They seemed to like what I had in the beginning so I stuck with that and refined it if need be.”
5. Jax Teller from Sons of Anarchy
Portrayed by: Charlie Hunnam
The English actor worked pretty hard to learn his American accent, and so it comes as no surprise that he sounded like a natural on the show. However, staying in U.S. and taking on so many American roles actually did a number on his original accent.
He said: “I’ve been acting and living in America for so long and acting with American dialects, and putting an enormous amount of time and energy into trying to learn an American dialect and get it as flawless as I can, that by the time I got hired to return back to England, I had adopted, just naturally, a lot of those cadences and inflections. So I hired a dialect coach to help me get back into the right rhythm of British speech.”
4. Bruce Wayne from The Dark Knight
Portrayed by: Christian Bale
If you’re familiar with his work, then you already know that the British actor rarely ever does roles with his native accent. Aside from his role as Bruce Wayne, he’s taken on several other roles where he sounded genuinely American. And so of course, fans took it upon themselves to ask him why it seems so much more challenging for Americans to perfect the British accent.
In a Reddit thread, he explained: “You know what the mistake is people make? Imitating other films instead of imitating other people. Because, and especially in Americans doing English accents, why shouldn’t they be able to do them impeccably? It’s because, largely, you get a sort of middle to upper-class accent that is represented in film and in television that makes it way across the Atlantic and then all Americans think all English speak that way which is absolute bollocks. So it would be actually go to the place and talk to the people and it’s the same way going the other way.” Good point!
3. Lydia from Breaking Bad
Portrayed by: Laura Fraser
Laura was raised in Glasgow, Scotland, but from her flawless American accent on Breaking Bad, you wouldn’t be able to tell. In fact, her own co-stars found her accent so convincing that they didn’t realize she was Scottish.
Surprisingly, though, when she adopts other accents (including British and American), she still finds it pretty challenging. She said: “I find it much harder when I have to do an accent. I don’t trust it and I worry about it. I’m constantly thinking about it, so I feel like it’s taking away from what I should be doing.”
2. Captain David from Kings
Portrayed by: Christopher Egan
You might also recall his British voice in Letters to Juliet (which, if you ask us, wasn’t that impressive). But in NBC’s Kings, the Australian native truly blew us away with his false American accent. In an interview, he said: “I find the American accent much tougher than British. British felt closer to Australian, whereas for American, your whole jaw has to be dislocated.” And here we were, thinking it must’ve been a piece of cake!
1. Archie Andrews from Riverdale
Portrayed by: KJ Apa
If we didn’t know that KJ was originally from New Zealand, we honestly would’ve thought he was born and raised in the U.S. He once revealed that nailing the American accent actually didn’t take much effort.
He said: “It’s interesting. I didn’t ‘work on it’ – I mean, I worked on it by myself but it was kind of one of those things that I was able to do. I’m lucky in that respect, I think because it means I don’t have to focus on it while I’m working, I can just focus on the work.”