Adding an Irish character to a movie is a decision that is fraught with far more danger than it really should be.
Considering that the country has produced terrific actors like Liam Neeson, Pierce Brosnan, Gabriel Byrne and Colin Farrell, there is no excuse for using actors and actresses who produce diabolical accents like the following ones.
Tom Cruise playing Joseph Donnelly in Far and Away
If you ever need someone to play a hero who saves the planet, flies fighter jets and serves cocktails while looking cool then Tom is your man. Cruise has also shown that he can act well in films such as Rain Man, A Few Good Men and Vanilla Sky.
Yet, the task of putting on an authentic Irish accent was just too much for Tom in this rambling epic. His then wife Nicole Kidman fared only slightly better with her attempt at sounding as though she has grown up in the Emerald Isle, but Tom’s mangled Irish-ness stole the day.
Apparently the celebrities lived with an Irish couple for a while to master the accent but they would have been better off dubbing over Tom’s voice with a real Irish accent.
Sean Connery as Jim Malone in The Untouchables
You would think that a Scot would be able to put on a decent Irish accent, wouldn’t you? After all, many Americans and Australians don’t seem to know the difference between these accents to begin with.
Sadly, we’ll never know whether everyone’s favourite James Bond (sorry Roger, but you know it’s true) was capable of pulling off a cool Irish accent. This is because Sean decided that Irish people speak just like himself, only with a faintly amusing version of his accent
This was voted the worst ever accent in a movie by Empire magazine a few years ago. Was it really worse than Dick Van Dyke’s Cockney disaster in Mary Poppins, though?
(Skip to 1:10 to check out this mysterious accent).
Brad Pitt in The Devil’s Own and Snatch
Brad has been described as a character actor trapped in a leading man’s body but is there any chance that he is an Irishman trapped in an American’s body as well? Errr, no.
Impressively, the former Mr Jolie has splattered his blatant lack of Irish-ness all over our screens on two different occasions. It is tough to decide which of Rory Devaney in The Devil’s Own and Mickey O’Neill in Snatch sound worse, although it has been claimed that his bizarre accent was deliberately unintelligible in Snatch.
Take a look at Brad being very un-Irish with the help of some video subtitling and see what you think of it.
Julie Roberts in Mary Reilly
Julia has charmed us over the years by fighting greedy corporations on behalf of the little man, finding love, losing love and, well, being a prostitute. She has played a great variety of parts and has done a wonderful job at being convincing in most of them.
However, being Irish is not her strong point. Yet, this hasn’t stopped the actress from bravely battling through two movies in which she used an accent that sounds like it was cobbled together solely from listening to a mixture of Father Ted and Daniel O’Donnell.
Apparently she had a voice coach for playing Kitty Kiernan in Michel Collins and also the character Mary Reilly. Pfft, she should have had a private lesson with André at the voice over workshop.
Gerard Butler as Gerry Kennedy in P.S. I Love You
Sean Connery has already shown us that Scottish actors can struggle with Irish accents as much as anyone. In fact, maybe they are secretly using terrible Irish voices on purpose, as revenge for the horrors that have been perpetrated on the Scottish accent in so many films.
Certainly, Gerard Butler seems to have gone down the well-trodden path of thinking that an Irish character should have a vaguely comedic version of his own voice. Thankfully, the film is so bad that his accent doesn’t really stand out as it might have done in a better movie.
Gerard has proved to be a great actor in other roles but for this film it might have been better to cast, you know, an actual Irish guy.
Kevin Spacey as Michael Lynch in Ordinary Decent Criminal
There are few better character actors around than Kevin Spacey. Unfortunately, it all fell to pieces when the character he played happened to be born in the land of Ireland. Where the air is fresh, the grass is green and they know how to throw a party like no other. Saint Patrick’s Day has got the party covered this weekend!
However, we think he might have drank one too many pints of Guinness before the filming began in Ordinary Decent Criminal or maybe he mis-heard the location as “Iceland”. Who knows what was running through Kevin’s head when he put on this horribly tortured accent.
If you are looking to celebrate St Patrick’s Day this year then we can recommend avoiding the bad accents in the above films. Instead, an Irish classic like The Commitments, Waking Ned Devine or The Snapper will put a smile on your face.
Check out our favourite Irish accents here.