SCOTTISH accents are pretty difficult to nail – that’s clear from this long list of otherwise estimable Hollywood talent.
Agyness Deyn has won praise for her spot-on Scottish accent in Sunset Song, but, as has become clear over the years, she seems to be the exception to the rule.
Christoper Lambert in Highlander
Christopher Lambert’s ridiculous accent in Highlander often comes out top on these sort of polls. It is universally agreed that the French actor’s attempt at our native tongue was terrible. Nobody can contest it. One thing that goes in his defence is the fact that Lambert is French and this was only his second ever English speaking role, so the Highlander franchise is more to blame for their bad casting choices (eg. Sean Connery as an Egyptian).
Jessica Lange in Rob Roy
Liam Neeson made a decent fist of a Scots brogue as Rob Roy, but the same can’t be said for his co-star Jessica Lange. In fairness, Neeson’s Northern Irish nationality gives him a bit of an unfair advantage over the American actress. However, this doesn’t detract from Lange’s wholly unconvincing portrayal of Mary, Rob Roy’s other half.
James Doohan in Star Trek
A special mention must go to James Doohan as Scotty for maintaining his strange Scottish meets Canadian accent for 40 years. His pseudo-Aberdonian accent has become the stuff of legend and has been framed eternally in phrases such as “I cannae change the laws of physics” and “She cannae tak it nae more, Captain.” While he deserves some recognition for endurance, the majority of people agree that the accent was less than authentic.
Mel Gibson in Braveheart
Mel Gibson’s depiction of William Wallace in Braveheart was met with mixed reviews, with his accent commonly being described as ‘Transatlantic.’ Having said that, people loved the film regardless, and 20 years later people still love reciting the denouement of Gibson’s speech in his wobbly Highlander delivery: “They may take our lives, but they will never take, our freee-dummmmm!”
Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade
While this brief appearance was intentionally comedic it’s still worth a mention. Ford’s title character unsuccessfully attempts to convince a German butler that he is a Scottish aristocrat – Lord Clarence MacDonald to be precise. Predictably, his accent is so bad that even the German can tell he’s not Scottish and, as usual, Jones reverts to physical violence to solve the problem.
Cate Blanchett in How to Train Your Dragon
Cate Blanchett’s portrayal of Valka the dragon rider switched between the Highlands, middle-England and somewhere on the other side of the Atlantic. Oscar-winner Blanchett is an excellent actress but Scottish accents are clearly not her forte. Think Mel Gibson with a mouthful of haggis meets Kelly McDonald in Brave, with a bit of Downton Abbey thrown in. All very confusing.
Jude Law in the Black Sea
Aberdonian isn’t the easiest of accents to pull off. Distinctive and strong, imitating the Northern brogue is no small task. However, Jude Law decided to give it a go in last year’s underwater thriller Black Sea, and it was barely recognisable as Scottish, never mind Aberdonian, as he portrayed a down on his luck seaman, Captain Robinson.
Mike Myers in Austin Powers
Mike Myers’ character Fat Bastard, an occasional villain in the Austin Powers franchise, was a collage of stereotypes: an obese, whisky-slugging, deep-fried-whatever eating Scotsman in a kilt. If taken at face value, everything about the character is offensive, particularly the accent. As none of Austin Powers can or should be taken seriously, Myres got away, er, Scot free.
Isla Fisher in Burke and Hare
Another Australian attempting to master our native tongue, and failing. Former Home and Away star Isla Fisher took on the role of Ginny Hawkins in the 2010 black comedy Burke and Hare. Her portrayal of the accent was panned despite her ancestry (her mother and father are from Stranraer and Bathgate, respectively.)