Lost in the Pond: 5 American Actors/Actresses Who Really Nail A British Accent

Having looked last week at 4 British Actors/Actresses Who Really Nail an American Accent, I have flipped things around for today’s post. Though many Brits tend to think of Dick van Dyke’s awful brogue when it comes to Americans performing British accents, the truth is that certain actors/actresses have made up for the shortcomings of the Mary Poppins star. Here are 5 such modern examples.

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Gwyneth Paltrow
She may have recently been voted the “most hated celebrity”, but if there is one thing that Gwyneth Paltrow is rather good at, it’s performing a British accent. And for those of you thinking that she gets it from her British husband, Chris Martin, Paltrow was displaying her accent long before the couple met, in films such as Emma and Sliding Doors.

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Rene Zellweger
Rene Zellweger caught the imagination of certain cinema-going Brits in 2001, with her turn as Bridget Jones in Bridget Jones’ Diary, repeating the role in a sequel. Playing opposite Colin Firth and Hugh Grant, Zellweger sounded as British as her co-stars, avoiding the stereotypical Received Pronunciation that so many American actors strive for.

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Johnny Depp
As Tim Burton’s perennial leading man, Johnny Depp has been required to perform a British accent on numerous occasions, most notably in films such as Sleepy Hollow and Sweeney Todd. However, it was in Pirates of the Caribbean where Depp was able to display what was a reasonable attempt at a Cockney accent (and by “reasonable” I mean far better than Dick van Dyke).

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Mel Gibson
Though he may have gone a little crazy in recent years and despite the fact that some have slated him for his Scottish accent in Braveheart, I have included him on this list because, well, his accent in that film is actually phenonemal when you consider how difficult – even for an English actor – a Scottish accent is to pull off.

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Meryl Streep

Let’s face it: when Meryl Streep plays a British character, she not only immerses herself in the accent, but the entire character from head-to-toe. While The Iron Lady only received lukewarm reviews, critics were quick – as they often are – to praise the work of Streep, who sounded uncannily like former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.


  1. avatarJames B. says

    I would add Jennifer Ehle to the list. However Both Elhe and Paltrow have one parent who is english and lived in England. Renee Zellweger studied British English for her part,and Mel Gibson’s family moved to Australia when he was young.

      • avatarminerva says

        Forgive me but what is a ‘British accent’………….I’m afraid it is a meaningless term especially as there are 3 separate countries within Gt. Britain, all of which have a multitude of regional accents………it’s like me saying that you do a mean American accent!
        Sorry to be picky about it, but I hate it when people say I have a ‘British’ accent……I don’t….it’s English. Sorry.

    • avatarNicola says

      Gillian Anderson was brought up here in the UK till she was 11, I believe. On English chat shows, such as recently on Graham Norton, she speaks in an English accent.

  2. avatarChatoyant says

    Let’s face it: there isn’t an accent that Streep can’t nail. She has an uncanny ear for them.

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