So many actors have tried, and so many actors have failed. Accents have long proven to be one of the hardest things to hone when it comes to a film role. While Irish seems to be the most challenging of dialects to lock down, there are also other accents — even American — that have yet to be mastered in cinema.
Playing a Serbian posing as a Bosnian in the upcoming "Killing Season," John Travolta is going a rare route. It's debatable whether he can pull it off, but he doesn't have to worry about sounding all sorts of wrong if he's in the company of these actors with the worst movie accents.
15. Gabourey Sidibe, 'Tower Heist' (2011)
Playing a maid with a knack for cracking safes, Sidibe didn't initially plan on her character having a Jamaican accent. But "Tower Heist" director Brett Ratner requested it, and even with the use of a dialect coach, what resulted was a borderline Caribbean/Irish tone that sounded as if she was putting on, well, a fake Jamaican accent.
14. Steven Seagal, 'Out for Justice' (1991)
Is he Italian? Is he from Jersey? Does he have an accent at all? Damned if we know, "okay?" Apparently the way to play a Brooklyn cop named Gino in "Out For Justice" is to throw a bunch of "okay"'s around while waving your gun in the air. And apparently, it's "okay" to drop your accent several times in one scene when you're too busy swinging a billiard ball and pool sticks at people's heads.
13. Cameron Diaz, 'Gangs of New York' (2002)
As Leonardo DiCaprio's Irish lady love in 19th century New York in "Gangs of New York," Cameron Diaz had a hard time not sounding like ... Cameron Diaz. Somewhere deep down, there was a hint of part-Irish, part-American accent dying to come out, but while Diaz tried — and we mean really, really tried — alas, no luck or Irish eyes were smiling down on that one.
12. Nicolas Cage, 'Con Air' (1997)
As a war veteran and former Army Ranger from Alabama in "Con Air," Nicolas Cage tried his darnedest to make his character sound Southern. It didn't really happen. We can let go of the bad hair, but his drawl was so inaudible at times — especially when reuniting with his family towards the end of the film — that we had to second guess what his first words were to his wife. "Hello, honey bear?" "Hello, hum and bear it?" Yeah, no clue.
11. Angelina Jolie, 'Alexander' (2004)
Angelina Jolie can't say nailing down an accent was "all Greek" to her when she played the beautiful Olympias in "Alexander." Sounding more harsh Russian than graceful goddess, it may seem unfair to single Jolie out when Colin Farrell played her son, Alexander the Great, with a borderline Irish-British accent. The lineage got all sorts of confused in "Alexander."
10. Brad Pitt, 'The Devil's Own' (1997)
Notably one of the most famous failed attempts at an Irish brogue, Brad Pitt's first time playing a lad (oddly, it wasn't his last) came in "The Devil's Own" as Francis 'Frankie' McGuire, an IRA gunman hiding in the U.S. under a new identity. Pitt's overuse of the word "Aye" to mask his non-existent accent still couldn't make him a believable Irishman, no matter how hard he tried.
9. Dick Van Dyke, 'Mary Poppins' (1964)
Poor Dick Van Dyke. Considered one of the worst accents in cinematic history, Van Dyke's in "Mary Poppins" pretty much set the standard for how it should not be done. As Burt the chimney sweeper, the role called for him to speak (and sing) in a British cockney style, but it was a disaster. The accent has been deemed so laughable that it even influenced an entire blog.
8. Gerard Butler, 'P.S. I Love You' (2007), 'The Bounty Hunter' (2010), 'Chasing Mavericks' (2012)
Gerard Butler has taken a few cracks at quelling his Scottish tone by playing an American in not one but many films. Somehow, though, he still ends up sounding the same in not one but many films. Butler once admitted in an interview that when he would put on a fake American accent, his friends said he "sounded like an idiot." Uh ... no comment.
7. Julia Roberts, 'Mary Reilly' (1996)
Another Irish accent bites the dust. Playing the Irish servant to John Malkovich's Dr. Jekyll, Roberts performance as "Mary Reilly" was just awkward overall. She fell prey to the Brad Pitt syndrome, using the word "Aye" (as in "ayelness," not "illness") before almost every vowel to pronounce a word ... that is, when she was actually using the accent. Even the Razzies took notice, nominating her for Worst Actress.
6. Quentin Tarantino, 'Django Unchained' (2012)
Okay, so maybe Quentin Tarantino isn't necessarily known for his acting chops. The director has long made cameos in his films, but in "Django Unchained," what stands out about his performance (besides his character getting blown to pieces) was the lack of Australian authenticity in his voice. It sounded a little New Zealand-ish, but his character had such a short life span that no one had to be subjected to his questionable accent for long.
5. Kevin Costner, 'Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves' (1991)
Sure he could shoot a bow and arrow with ease, but Kevin Costner attempting a British accent (if you can call it that) as Robin Hood in "Prince of Thieves" was cringe-worthy. Such a travesty. But it did provide for a good laugh a couple of years later in "Robin Hood: Men in Tights" when Cary Elwes uttered the now-classic line: ''Unlike some other Robin Hoods, I can speak with an English accent.''
4. Tom Cruise, 'Far and Away' (1992)
Here we go again. Is there not ONE Irish dialect coach in Hollywood that can help an actor out? Tom Cruise gave a valiant effort in "Far and Away" as a young Irishman who moves to America with his ladyfriend (posing as his "sister"), played by then-wife Nicole Kidman. In this one scene, he bullies her, proclaiming, "Tell me you like my hat!" No, Tom, she won't ... because you're not saying it right.
3. Keanu Reeves, 'Bram Stoker's Dracula' (1992)
The best way to describe Keanu Reeves' supposed British accent in "Bram Stoker's Dracula" would be dainty ... and high-pitched. After Jonathan Harker barely survived his encounter with Dracula and his three brides, things just got worse when Reeves incorporated a deeper voice to sound world-weary AND British. Anyone know what a "bahr-stard" is?
2. Harrison Ford, 'K-19: The Widowmaker' (2002)
It happens to the best of them as the usually on-point Harrison Ford struggled with his Russian accent in "K-19: The Widowmaker." As Captain Alexei Vostrikov, Ford rushes to save a Soviet submarine from causing a nuclear disaster, but not even director Kathryn Bigelow could save her star from a bad accent.
1. Jon Voight, 'Anaconda' (1997)
It's as if Tony Montana got swallowed by a large snake and then got spit back out for leaving such a bad taste in its mouth; that's the best way to describe what Jon Voight sounded like in "Anaconda." While it's hard to top the idea that a giant reptile is lurking in the waters ready to swallow J. Lo, Voight's in-and-out Spanish accent was an even crazier thing to take in.