Any good performance is made up of myriad subtle nuances that go into turning an actor into his or her character. There's only so much costuming and makeup can do though -- certain roles just require a particular accent to make it work. Some actors are known for their uncanny ability to pick up and drop accents at will. If you are Meryl Streep, for instance, sometimes you go and learn a whole new language just to make sure you get it right. Occasionally actors take the plunge and decide to do an accent to just show off their acting chops, or to prove that they are serious artists and not just, "movie stars." Others take on a role that requires an accent, and then just seem to hope we'll overlook how badly they mangle it. The unfortunate actors on this list may have aimed high (or not), but they all missed the mark. And in some cases, they almost managed to take out the entire film solely with their bad accents.
1. Kevin Costner - Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
No list of bad accents would be complete without the granddaddy of all bad performances; Kevin Costner as Robin of Locksley. This 1991 stinker cast the corn-fed Costner as a British Lord with a penchant for thievery and social justice. But in spite of Costner's revolving door of accents, the film still went down as one of the biggest box-office hits of 1991, second only to Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Costner has also conceded that he never really had the time to work on a real accent (You don't say? We'd never have guessed ...). With a budget of $48,000,000, you would have thought they could have spared a few bucks for a dialect coach. But perhaps worst of all is that this film is responsible for unleashing Bryan Adam's unholy power ballad "Everything I Do" on the world and ruining wedding receptions forevermore.
2. Val Kilmer - Alexander
Now I know what you are going to say, how could I overlook Angelina Jolie and her laughable 'Gypsy-Russian' hybrid? But Kilmer as the one-eyed King Phillip gives Jolie a run for her money in the laughable accent department with his Leprechaun-inspired Irish/Welsh brogue. Director Oliver Stone has plenty to answer for when it comes to his epic drama. The wig selection alone deserves some serious mea culpas. But, this is a list about accents after all, so we go straight to Stone's decision to hide Colin Farrell's natural Irish accent by surrounding him with what sounds like a chorus of Lucky Charms spokespeople. Jolie might have been over the top, and writhing with snakes, but Kilmer still stands out as a bad accent and a horrible stylistic choice all rolled into one.
3. The Cast of Bram Stoker's Dracula
Having to choose the worst accent in this film is kind of like asking a parent to choose their favorite child, it just can't be done. Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula will probably go down in history for having some of the worst English, Dutch, and Romanian accents ever captured on screen. Top honors go to Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves, who manages to turn most of his scenes into Bill and Ted's Transylvanian Adventure. This film has even has the distinction of turning good actors into bad ones. I don't know which was worse; Tom Waits chewing on the scenery or Anthony Hopkins sweeping in with dialog like, "Ja, ja, she was in great pain so we drove a stake through her heart and cut off her head"! -- If only they had considered the pain of the audience having to watch Ryder's delivery as an "English rose."
4. Brad Pitt - Seven Years in Tibet
Sure, Pitt has managed to pull off a convincing accent or two -- Snatch's snaggle-toothed Irishman probably stands out as his best -- but before Snatch was his turn as the Austrian mountain climber and reputed Nazi sympathizer, Heinrich Harrer in Seven Years in Tibet. Directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, the film was based on the Harrer's book about his time in Tibet from 1944 to 1951. The film even managed to get Pitt and co-star David Thewlis banned from ever entering Mainland China again, though probably not just because of Pitt's accent. Pitt was at least consistently bad in the accent department -- unlike Costner, he at least managed to keep the same atrocious accent throughout the entire film.
5. John Wayne - The Long Voyage Home
This might not be the most well known performance on the list, but you can't deny that it is definitely one of the most bizarre casting choices. Voyage was based on a series of Eugene O'Neil's early plays and centered on the crew of an English cargo ship en route to Baltimore with a store-hold full of dynamite during WWII. The film was directed by John Ford, and marked the second time Ford and Wayne had worked together after 1939's Stagecoach. Ford was always one of Wayne's biggest fans, but you have to wonder what they were all thinking when they cast Wayne as a Swede named Ole Olsen -- and yes, his accent is just as ridiculous as you would expect. Think of the Swedish Chef by way of the OK Corral and you are starting to get the picture. Ouch.
6. Heather Graham - From Hell
There were plenty of things wrong with the casting of Heather Graham as a Victorian prostitute in The Hughes Brother's take on Alan Moore's, From Hell -- who knew Victorian streetwalkers had such great dental plans? The Hughes Brother's adaptation of Moore's graphic novel managed to do away with most of the storyline from Moore's novel and instead ended up being closer to a remake of 1979's Murder by Decree. But let's not forget about Graham's attempt at an Irish accent, which is possibly one of the worst things about the film. The doll-faced blond looked much more at home as Roller Girl than a street-hardened hooker, and her brogue almost rivals Kilmer's in absurdity. In the end, her laughable performance becomes the cherry on the cake of what went wrong with this movie.
7. Christopher Lambert - Highlander
While this might not be a bad accent in the traditional sense of a bad impersonation, sometimes it's worse when the actor doesn't even bother. It's not as if Christopher Lambert even attempted an accent when he played the Scottish swordsman in 1986's Highlander, so you might wonder how he managed to earn a spot on a list with the likes of a "bad accent legend" like Kevin Costner. But the French actor (that's right; French) decided to play his highlander as if he has just wandered in from the Left Bank. Would it have killed him to at least get a few lessons from his co-star, Sean Connery (looking past Connery's pretty sketchy past when it comes to his own attempts at accents)? Although, really, when you've got Connery playing an Egyptian-turned-Spaniard, you know you have lost any hope of getting things right.
So there you have it, these are some of the worst, but by no means is this list complete. So now I turn it over to you; what bad accents made you squirm in your seat?