So apparently, Christian Bale is British! Actually, according to the Dark Knight, “I was born in Wales but I’m not Welsh. I’m English.” On-screen it is difficult to tell that the Oscar-nominated actor has an accent. Bale was born in Haverfordwest to a South-African born father and a mother who worked as a circus performer. After the release of his first film, Empire of the Sun, in 1987, he no longer wanted to pursue acting; “I enjoyed making the film, but I was shocked when I received all the attention when I got home to Bournemouth. Girls were all over me, boys wanted to fight me, and I was being asked to open local fetes when all I wanted to do was ride my BMX bike in the woods. I told my parents I wasn`t interested in doing anything again because the attention ruined it.”
Gillian Anderson, also affectionately known as Agent Scully, is a cultural combination. She was born in Chicago but raised in London, which makes her a bidialectal! Her natural accent is British but depending on her location, speaks in the accent that she is most surrounded by. The actress has allegedly perfected the art of slipping in and out of accents effortlessly, proving to be a helpful skill throughout the length of her career. Today, Gillian still chooses to reside in London.
Andrew Lincoln, born in London as James Clutterbuck, is actually a Brit. As the star of The Walking Dead, Andrew had to cultivate a fairly strong, Southern accent to match the persona of his character, Rick Grimes. However, if you remember a little movie called Love Actually, released in 2003, then you’re sure to remember Andrew Lincoln and his British accent. He plays Mark, the best friend of the man who marries his true love, Kiera Knightley. Can you remember now?!
Perhaps one of the most shocking names on our list is Charlie Hunnam. Charlie rose to fame, quite drastically, after the premiere of Sons of Anarchy. He played Jackson “Jax” Teller, Vice President of a gangster motorcycle club, until the series end after 7 seasons but it was his role on Queer as Folk that gave him some serious street cred as an actor. Charlie is originally from Newcastle and was discovered in a retail store at the age of 18 when he was intoxicated and buying his brother shoes. Ironically enough, Charlie’s father was a legitimate gangster. If that isn’t fate, we don’t know what is.
Most fans mistake Naomi Watts as an Australian but in fact, she’s British! Watts was born in Shoreham, Kent and only began her acting career in Australia on shows likes Home and Away, Brides of Christ, and Hey Dad…! It wasn’t until she moved to America in the 90’s that she began starring in American-made productions like Child of the Corn lV, Dangerous Beauty, and Tank Girl. At first, Naomi didn’t enjoy Los Angeles; “There was a time I was very much blaming the way I felt on L.A, that it was a vacuum of creativity, of humor or anything organic, and I was really angry at the place. But then today I feel completely different. I love L.A.!”
Dominic West certainly had his work cut out for him when he signed on to be the Wire’s star, Detective Jim McNulty. In real life, Dominic is a Brit from Sheffield and had to perfect a heavy Baltimore accent while on the show. He’s origin is surprising to mast fans who never did a background check on the actor but he prefers that his identity remains mum, due to the hype between cross-cultural casting. He’s stated, “I suppose for someone who made quite a lot of money out of being in an American TV show, I shouldn’t moan really, but it does annoy me when Beatrix Potter is played by a Texan.”
Carey Mulligan is simply superb. She has the ability to take on any role, no matter the time period or persona, that it’s no wonder we forget that she’s British. Originally from Westminster, Carey has become one of Hollywood elites. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her starring role in An Education and played Daisy Buchanon in The Great Gatsby alongside Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey McGuire. Carey is a married woman, as well! She’s happily coupled up with English musician, Marcus Mumford.
Another partial Australian on our list is Sam Worthington. What most people aren’t aware of is that Sam was actually born in Godalming, UK. When he was younger, his parents relocated with him to Perth, Australia before he began his acting career. Sam’s first big break was in James Cameron’s Avatar, which is currently in production as a sequel. Before Cameron cast him as Avatar’s main character, Sam was living in his car following losing all of his possessions. He also starred as Perseus in Clash and Wrath of the Titans and appeared in 2016’s Hacksaw Ridge.
Kiefer Sutherland isn’t guilty of hiding a British accent off-screen – he’s only a Brit by accident. His father, Donald Sutherland, and his mother were on location in London at the time he was born and now he’s considered a legal Brit by the English media and BBC America; “If you look over his career, it’s kind of fitting that this should be the case. Keifer does have the kind of resume you’d associate with a British actor. Played a few villains, tends to be good at taunting people, has grown stubble in order to play a hard-boiled but unlucky professional in the emergency services for a hit TV show. Apart from all the punching and rolling around, he’s basically Hugh Laurie, Dominic West or Idris Elba, only with a better North American accent.”
For fans who followed the career of Rosamund Pike before she broke out in 2014’s Gone Girl, it shouldn’t be so surprising that she’s an accented Brit. Rosamund’s acting career first took off alongside Keira Knightley in Pride & Prejudice and then again, in the James Bond film, Die Another Day. She’s originally from London and began her career as a stage actress, working in productions like Romeo & Juliet and Skylight.
Marianne Jean-Baptise, known for Without a Trace and Secrets & Lies, is originally from London. On Without a Trace, Marianne portrays a character with an extremely think, and seemingly authentic, New York accent. She’s got the American mannerisms and demeanor down, just not the genes! Marianne got her start as a young actress at London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and gained notoriety while performing at the Royal National Theatre.
Another Walking Dead star on our list – Lennie James, who plays Morgan on the apocalyptic tv show, is also a Brit off-screen. James is originally from Nottingham and is born to parents from Trinidad and Tobago. As an English actor, James had a rough time transitioning to American work schedules and expectations. He publicly stated, “I was dreading all of the ghost stories of working on American television, not in the least, the length. In Britain, a series is six episodes of an hour drama, maybe sometimes eight, but never twenty-two, so I was petrified of that.”
Hugh Laurie, one of the great British talents, was born in Oxford, Oxfordshire and grew up with an Olympian father. He became a household name in America after starring as Dr. House on the medical drama that drove fans crazy but it was the accent that fans were enamored by when they heard it off-screen for the first time. It’s not easy for a Brit to play an American and Laurie has said so in his own words; “The great trap for non-American actors trying to play Americans, I think, is to start thinking of American-ness as a characteristic. It isn’t. It is no more a character trait than height. It is just a physical fact, and that’s all there is to it.”
Naomie Harris officially came out as a bonafide Brit when she starred in Skyfall 007 alongside Daniel Craig. Before she came clean on her sexy accent, she starred in Miami Vice Ninja Assassin where no accent was detectable. If you remember correctly, she also played Calypso in the Pirates of the Caribbean films; that’s a full-on Jamaican accent! As a child, she was trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and developed her acting chops through working non-stop as a young actress.
Eammon Walker is a talented, diverse actor who proved his worth on the cult-classic series, Oz. Originally from London, he trained to be a social worker and a professional dancer but turned to film after sustaining a chronic leg injury. Walker is proud of his craft and how he molds himself to his roles, especially when there is an accent involved; “I’m a North London boy … and I speak with a Cockney accent. Even if I was to do that accent now it would seem odd to me because I don’t speak like that. I have no need to speak like that. Me as an actor, I speak with my voice. I’m either American, I’m African— I’m working the whole range because I believe that is a tool. My body is a tool. My voice is a tool.”
Andrew Garfield may seem like the All-American boy proto-type but boy, is majority of the population wrong! The Amazing Spiderman actor is actually a Brit, originally from Epsom, Surrey, who didn’t make his first international appearance in film until 2010’s The Social Network. Following his two-time performance of Spiderman, he starred in the Broadway revival of Death of a Salesman and is now an Academy Award nominated actor for his performance in Hacksaw Ridge. Andrew has also notoriously dated, on and off again girlfriend, American sweetheart Emma Stone.
Carmen Ejogo, star of Alex Cross, is a super-Brit in disguise. She was born and raised in London and has been fairly outspoken as to her mixed roots and the perception of race in England’s favorite city. From the age of 8 or 9, she truly wanted to be an actress and her mother became torn between motivating her child’s inner desire and academic gifts. Of London society she says, “Growing up in London, with a hippie mom, I don’t know that I’m most people’s definition of what a black person is. I’m mixed, yes, but in the world, I’m defined as black before I’m defined white. I’ve never been called white.”
Tom Hardy is quickly becoming one of the most successful British actors in Hollywood… without being American! His breakout role was in Christopher Nolan’s Inception alongside Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Leonardo Dicaprio. In The Dark Knight Rises, he made a lasting impression as the villain Bane, who teamed up with Talia Al Ghul to destroy Gotham. Tom has become a preferred action star in the film industry and has been married to fellow Brit and actress Charlotte Riley since 2009.
Mischa Barton was born in London and is actually half British-half Irish. The actress might have fooled us all as a Cali-girl on The O.C. but as we’ve learned by now, she was just playing a part. Recently, Misha has found her name back in the press and selling headlines for antics over England. She had reportedly rehabilitated herself after struggling with substance abuse and partying issues except now, it seems as if the British starlet has fallen off the wagon again.
Hayley Atwell began her acting career in films like The Duchess and Brideshead Revisited but she didn’t become a recognizable face until she stole the role of Peggy Carter from millions of other actresses worldwide. The love interest of Captian America was introduced in live-action form to Marvel Crowds in The First Avenger but now Hayley, British accent and all, stars as Peggy once again in Agent Carter. She also made an appearance in 2015’s Ant-Man.
Did you have any idea that Lydia from Breaking Bad was a Brit? Actually, scratch that – Laura Fraser is Scottish, to be politically and geographically correct. Fraser was born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland and trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama after high school. She began her acting career on a few BBC television series before starring in A Knight’s Tale with Heath Ledger and Vanilla Sky, alongside Tom Cruise. A Scottish accent can be tricky to tuck behind American dialect – talk about an impressive feat!
According to the Thor actor, it took him 3 years to nail down the American accent. Idris Elba has starred in countless major motion pictures but got his big break on The Wire. He chose to move to the United States when he decided to pursue a career acting, fully aware that the Hollywood industry would help him reach his full potential; “I knew that if I wanted to be all I could be, I would have to go to the U.S. It took three years to get the accent right.” He is currently be considered as the next James Bond.
Rebecca Hall may have gotten your attention in films like Vicky Cristina Barcelona and The Town, alongside Ben Affleck and Jeremy Brenner, but she isn’t actually American… or from Boston. That’s right, Rebecca is a Brit. She was born in London and attended Cambridge University before dropping out in 2002 to pursue a career in acting. You’ve also seen Rebecca rocking an American accent in films like Iron Man 3, Transcendence, and The Prestige. She is currently married to actor, Morgan Spector.
Ed Westwick shot to superstardom when he took on the controversial, yet super loved, Gossip Girl character, Chuck Bass. The combination of his on-screen love affair with Blair Waldorf and his off-screen I (often critiqued) sexuality made him an easy target when it came to trash talk. As dreamy as he is and as naughty as his public persona is, many fans never realized that Ed Westwick is a Brit. Aside from his Gossip Girl credentials, Ed has a collection of film projects under his belt, like J. Edgar and the 2013 reboot of Romeo and Juliet.
Kim Cattrall is a mixed breed and you never even knew it! The woman responsible for creating the perfect on-screen Samatha Jones is actually British. She was born in Liverpool and moved with her parents to Canada at a young age. Then, like the rebel Kim is, she decided to complete her education back in England before relocating to the United States to work as an actress in her teenage years. We knew all that sophistication and class had to come from somewhere unique!