March 20, 2007 in London

Accent Snobbery

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After almost 2 years in London, I am no longer seduced by the English accent. Oh sure, I still think its sexy when someone like Colin Flirth speaks, but when your average blue blood or toff opens their mouth, I don’t automatically assume that what they say will be of any importance or intelligence. Truth be told, most of them are just full of hot air.

Fry claims accent is on success for UK actors
The Scotman, Tue 20 Mar 2007
BRITISH actors get an easy ride in Hollywood because their accents make Americans think they are talented, Stephen Fry, the actor and writer, suggested yesterday.
Fry spoke out after seeing a “blitz of Brits” take prizes at the Golden Globe awards, but admitted he was committing “high treason”.
Helen Mirren, Bill Nighy, Emily Blunt and Hugh Laurie led the British names at the awards, even though Laurie – Fry’s former comedy partner – won for playing an American in the medical drama House. However, Fry also singled out Jeremy Irons and Judi Dench, who have both been showered with Golden Globes and Oscars throughout their careers.
In this week’s Radio Times, Fry writes: “I shouldn’t be saying this, high treason really, but I sometimes wonder if Americans aren’t fooled by our accent into detecting a brilliance that may not really be there.

“I mean, would they notice if Jeremy Irons or Judi Dench gave a bad performance?” he asked. “Not that those two paragons ever would, but it’s worth considering.”
The British accent that Fry referred to appeared to be an English one. Noting the well-known Hollywood taste for villains with English accents, he said American film-makers wanted British characters to be like “a supervillain, emotionally constipated academic, effete, eccentric”.
Fry also mused that US performers were more natural and at ease than their technically brilliant but “artificial” British colleagues. He compared “the supreme relaxed authenticity of a James Stewart or a George Clooney with the brittle contrivances of a Laurence Olivier or a Kenneth Branagh, marvellous as they are”.
Alistair Harkness, the film critic for The Scotsman, said there was an element of truth in Fry’s comments, and he added: “Probably there is this perception in America that, because a lot of British actors come from British theatre, with such strong traditions, it almost automatically makes them better.”
This article:
Last updated: 20-Mar-07 00:12 GMT


  1. March 25, 2007 at 4:34 pm


    Exactly! Hugh Grant can’t act but yet he keeps getting movie offers. What gives? It’s not just his good looks (that’s fading) — I think its the accent to some degree. Not good!

  2. March 25, 2007 at 12:05 am


    I dunno, I think this is really underestimating the ability of Americans to recognise bad acting. Like Hugh Grant, for example. He can’t act his way out of a paper bag.

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