Acting often requires taking on roles very different from one’s own personality and upbringing, which also sometimes requires taking on accents from completely different parts of the world. Some actors are quite good at this, while others are not so much. With plenty of movies and television shows filming in Atlanta and Los Angeles, actors who come over from the UK to work in either city need to have an American accent. We’ve identified ten actors that we think are quite good at putting on an American accent, and if you can think of some we left off this list, you can share that with us in the comments.
Christian Bale became a star at thirteen years old when he featured in Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun, and he’s been using an American accent for roles almost as long. His first go at it was in the film Newsies, and it’s become a regular part of his roles from American Psycho to Batman Begins.
Mark Sheppard is the son of actor W. Morgan Sheppard and started his own acting career in the 1990s. He has a very extensive list of television credentials and has often drifted between an English accent and an American accent. Some great examples include roles on Star Trek: Voyager, Battlestar Galactica, and Supernatural.
Very few genre roles get more American than Superman. The ultimate refugee immigrant to the States became another example of a British actor playing an American hero when Henry Cavill was cast. Since starting as the Man of Steel, Cavill has since taken on other roles that require an American accent, such as Napoleon Solo in The Man from UNCLE and August Walker in Mission Impossible: Fallout.
Now a very well-known British actor, Idris Elba moved to New York City early on in his career and had his first big break by playing Russell “Stinger” Bell for two seasons of The Wire. He followed that up by playing Charles Miner on the American version of The Office. Elba has repeatedly shown since that he can switch between his British and American accents effortlessly.
Millie Bobby Brown
Millie Bobby Brown is certainly a newcomer on this list, but has shown a lot of skill in imitating an American accent. This started with the same series that put her on the map, Stranger Things. She carried this skill over into two Godzilla films, and who knows where it will appear again?
Most American audiences might remember first seeing Andrew Lincoln in the 2003 movie Love Actually, but it’s likely not the role for which they know him best. From 2010 to 2022, he held the role of zombie apocalypse survivor Rick Grimes on The Walking Dead. Lincoln stands to reprise the role again for an upcoming series in 2024.
Honestly, after he turned up in We’re the Millers, finding out Will Poulter was English was a bit of a surprise to me. He followed that up with the Maze Runner series, appearing in both the first and third films. His last big role was as the superhero Adam Warlock in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (where he used his English accent).
Most people not familiar with Paul Blackthorne’s early work in films like Lagaan might not be aware that he’s English, given that a good number of his roles have been in the States. That started with Presidio Med in 2002 and has included a long list of television roles in ER, The Dresden Files, and Arrow.
Doctor Who fans will recognize Gugu Mbatha-Raw as companion Martha Jones’s little sister on Doctor Who, but she’s had quite a number of high-profile roles since then. Within the last ten years, she’s had an increasing number of American parts in the Free State of Jones, A Wrinkle in Time, and Motherless Brooklyn. Her most recent role requiring an American accent was that of Ravonna Renslayer in the Marvel/Disney+ series Loki.
And while we’re on the subject of Marvel characters, Tom Holland is another British actor who stepped into the role of an iconic American superhero when he was cast as Spider-Man. In addition to multiple Marvel films in that role, he’s also played Nathan Drake in the movie adaptation of the video game Uncharted.