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The worst Irish accents in movie history

Mark Lankester
Yahoo UK Movies Features
15 March 2013

St. Patrick’s Day is upon us, which means it’s time for a celebration of all things magnificently Irish: Guinness, shamrocks, the colour green, Colin Farrell…

You see, the Irish have been subjected to terrible movie abuses over the years, but none worse than some appalling attempts at the much-loved accent.

To be fair, it’s a hard one to nail without sounding like you’re taking the Paddy – but still you can’t do much worse than these less-than-emerald performances. Here’s our rundown of the most horrible Irish accents in movie history:

[Related story: Tarantino explains Australian cameo in Django]
[Related story: The casting choices that proved fans wrong]


10 - Brad Pitt - The Devil’s Own (1997)
Brad’s attempted accent in this Harrison Ford co-starrer was pretty embarrassing, but compare it to his scene-stealing turn as Mickey O’Neil three years later in ‘Snatch’ and you wonder if he was even trying. The scenes he shares with fellow accent-attempter Natascha McElhone are particularly cringeworthy.


The Devils Own (1997) - Official Trailer [VO-HQ] by Eklecty City

9 - Pierce Brosnan - Evelyn (2002)
Brosnan’s pet project deserves a particular mention on this list, mainly because the 007 actor is Irish himself, born and bred. It’s almost as if he’s trying to atone for playing British icon Bond by going for a style that can only be described as 'super Irish'.


Evelyn - Trailer 2002 by mariotoledo

8 - Gerard Butler - P.S. I Love You (2007)
File this under “Why bother?”. You spend most of the 2007 tissue party asking one question: Why didn’t they just make Gerry’s character Scottish in the first place? But that would ruin the story, right? Should have got an Irish actor then…


P.S. I Love You (2007) by m0vietrailerpark

7 - Richard Gere - The Jackal (1997)
Richard Gere actually manages an almost impressive accent as yet another 90s Hollywood terrorist – it’s just that he keeps forgetting to do it, seemingly spending entire scenes out of character. You might as well be watching an film starring Richard Gere and his Irish twin brother. Watch it here.

6 - Kevin Spacey - Ordinary Decent Criminal (2000)
We’re convinced Spacey shunned the voice coach in favour of having an endless supply of helium on set. Hard to believe this crime-comedy was his first film after the brilliantly subtle ‘American Beauty’. Just be thankful Lester Burnham was American.


Ordinary Decent Criminal by MyMovies_UK

5 - Warwick Davis - The Leprechaun (1993 - 2003)
OK, Warwick Davis’ cult horror hobbit ‘The Leprechaun’ isn’t really meant to be taken seriously in the first place. Still, Warwick’s technique of simply replacing “my” with ”me”, shouldn’t have carried the character through to five sequels. Watch it here.

4 - Tom Cruise - Far and Away (1992)
Nicole Kidman’s average attempt in this Ron Howard epic escaped lightly thanks to her then husband’s gallant action – Tom Cruise affecting an almost comical Irish accent, so that his wife might be saved. Or maybe it was just bad in the first place. We’re not sure…



3 - Sean Connery - The Untouchables (1987)

Years before Gerard Butler forgot to not be Scottish, Sean Connery was mastering the technique. He won a well deserved Oscar for his performance in slick crime flick ‘the Untouchables’, but the only time you realise he’s actually meant to be Irish is when another character says it. Nice bit of exposition there.



2 - Sean Connery (again) - Darby O’Gill And The Little People (1959)

Almost the worst Irish accent in movies, if it wasn’t for the fact that Sean manages to sound nearly acceptable when he’s singing (that’s right, singing) in his second (well, first) attempt in this forgettable Disney musical. Well, now we know why he didn’t try in the ‘Untouchables’... Watch it here.

1 - Tommy Lee Jones - Blown Away (1994)
Tommy Lee Jones’s stock character portrayal of an IRA bomb maker in ’Blown Away’ managed a rare achievement in actually making you feel sorry for the terrorists he was imitating – picking up our award for worst Irish accent along the way. Just shocking.



Special mention:

Michael J. Fox’s brief appearance as his own great-great-ginger-grandfather Seamus McFly in ‘Back To The Future Part III’ is horrifically funny. But we’ll let him off. Partly because he’s technically only starring as Marty McFly – and partly because we like it so much.

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