Some of the world’s most famous actors are not using their native dialect and instead, pretend to be Americans when they are cast in their Hollywood roles. It can be jarring to hear an actor you love doing an interview and then learning that they actually have a posh English accent. It’s for this very reason that when Christian Bale does a press tour for a movie he filmed in the US, he does all of his interviews using an American accent and not his native British one. That’s right, your favorite Batman is a Brit who just plays an American.
The ability of these actors to deceive audiences with their American accents just goes to show how talented these performers are and how seriously they take their craft. We wanted to compile a list of some sneaky Brits who play Americans often. So often, in fact, that most people don’t know they are actually British. Now, we use the term British to mean a person from the UK (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland). We’ve already ruined Batman for you but don’t worry we’ll do the same for Superman, Spiderman, another Batman, and many other favorites!
Did You Know The Following Actors Are Actually British?
You may know him as “Jax” from Sons of Anarchy but Charlie Hunnam is not from California. Nope, he was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. In fact, his first breakout role was in the original British version of Queer as Folk. While he has returned to the UK for acting roles (King Arthur, Pappillon), he has been in more American than British titles over the last decade.
You likely recognize him as Dr. Gregory House from the TV series House but Hugh Laurie is very British. He’s so British that he was appointed OBE (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in the 2007 New Year Honours and CBE in the 2018 New Year Honours, both for services to drama. The whole empire wants to claim him! Before becoming an A-list film actor, Laurie got his start as a comedian.
Actor Andrew Lincoln is best known for playing the main character in The Walking Dead, Rick Grimes. Despite his ability to nail a southern accent, Lincoln is not from the American South. He was born in London in 1973. If you don’t believe us, take a look at his real name, Andrew James Clutterbuck. Clutterbuck seems like a quintessential British surname to us. He changed his name to Andrew Lincoln while attending the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA).
Chiwetel Ejiofor is one of his generation’s most celebrated actors. He was born in London in 1977. He’s likely most familiar to you for his award-winning portrayal of Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave. Three months into his coursework at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic art, he was cast by Steven Spielberg in a supporting role for Amistad. The rest is history for this actor who is like a chameleon who can transform into any character.
Damian Lewis has been playing American characters on Showtime for several seasons now. He gained notoriety for his starring role in Homeland and followed it up by playing a cut-throat money manager in Billions. He was born in London in 1971. After a successful start on various stages around London, Steven Spielberg (again!) cast him in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers. It earned him his first Golden Globe nomination.
You’ve seen him in Meet the Millers, Detroit, and The Maze Runner but despite his very convincing American accent, Will Poulter is actually British. Poulter was born in London in 1993. He struggled in school due to dyslexia but discovered a passion for drama as an outlet for him to express himself. He’s now an international star and one of the most sought-after actors in Hollywood.
Dominic Cooper is an English actor best known for his portrayal of comic book characters Jesse Custer on the AMC show Preacher and young Howard Stark in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He sports a great American accent in both and many folks don’t know that he was born in London. He once shared a flat with James Corden. While he is famous for his work in America, he’s been working more often these days in the UK.
Hugh Dancy might have fooled you with his spot-on accent in the acclaimed series, Hannibal. But, he was raised in Staffordshire, England. Now, he calls the West Village neighborhood of New York City home. He moved to the US shortly after marrying fellow actor, Claire Danes. Audiences can expect to see Dancy next in NBC’s revival of Law and Order (2022). He’ll be portraying Senior Assistant District Attorney Nolan Price and you better believe he’ll have an American accent.
Although he starred in a show called The Americans, Matthew Rhys is far from it. He was born and raised in Cardiff, Wales. In fact, his first language was not even English. He was raised speaking Welsh. He eventually attended RADA where he was discovered and cast in a police procedural for the BBC. If you missed his stellar performance in The Americans, you might have seen him playing another character with an American accent, Perry Mason.
Another Welsh actor who trained at RADA, Michael Sheen is an actor you probably know from his TV work in America including his award-winning performance as Dr. William Masters in Masters of Sex. Despite his work for the small screen in the US, he still calls Wales home. He has two children with his partner Anna Lundberg who is originally from Sweden.
True Blood‘s Stephen Moyer might play an American on TV but he was born in Essex in 1969. He married Canadian-New Zealand actor Anna Paquin in 2010 and they both relocated to the states. Moyer’s family resides in Venice, Los Angeles today. He is primarily known for his work in America and you’re likely not going to remember seeing him speaking with a British accent as he’s primarily done work in the US for the last couple of decades.
Superman! Henry Cavill plays the superhero in a number of DC Extended Universe films that have been hits in recent years. He was born in Jersey, not New Jersey, but the original British one. For most folks, the only reference for Cavill is as Superman but he has starred in a number of British projects. If you’ve seen his other recent project, The Witcher, you know his English accent comes naturally.
As promised, Christian Bale who has played Batman has called the US home since the early 1990s. He is English but he calls Los Angeles home today. He got his start in the US, starring in the movie musical Newsies. He came to prominence after his starring role in American Psycho in which he plays a cold-blooded killer who stalks New York City. Things only kept getting bigger for Bale since then. Because he almost uses an American accent for work today, you’d be forgiven for not knowing he’s English.
Daniel Kaluuya‘s breakout performance in Jordan Peele‘s Get Out put him on the map with more American roles to follow. Black Panther, Queen and Slim, and Judas and the Black Messiah are just a few of the incredible movies he’s starred in since then. Despite playing such iconic characters with American accents, Kaluuya was born in London in 1989.
Tom Holland achieved international recognition playing Spider-Man in six Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) superhero films, beginning with Captain America: Civil War. It’s his turn as Peter Parker that made him a household name in the US but he was not born in New York. He was born in London in 1996. Don’t expect to hear his native accent anytime soon. He’s one of Hollywood’s brightest stars and very much in demand, as long as he uses an American accent.
Sacha Baron Cohen
Sacha Baron Cohen doesn’t stick to just one accent so you might not have realized that he is genuinely from England. This talented actor and comedian is best known for playing Borat, a character he created and has made a few films as. He used to split his time between London and Los Angeles but he has since moved to Sydney, Australia after marrying Australian actor Isla Fisher. We’ll see where his next film and TV projects will take him next!
Henry Golding is a Malaysian-British actor, model, and television host. He is most likely recognizable to you from his work on Crazy Rich Asians. He played the character Nick Young in the film. His star is shining bright in Hollywood and after we see him in follow-up sequels to Crazy Rich Asians, he’ll be starring in a number of American projects.
Gary Oldman is one of the highest-grossing actors of all time. He’s not been Batman but he has been Batman-adjacent in The Dark Knight as Jim Gordon. One of the most fascinating things about the actor is that he uses a different accent for every single role he has taken. That makes him a hard actor to pin down unless you do some digging. He was born in London in 1958. After establishing his career in America, he moved to Los Angeles in the 1990s. He’s still got his English accent.
You know him from the massive franchise Star Wars but despite having an American accent in the films, John Boyega is actually from London and was born there in 1992. Despite his career only being about a decade old, Boyega has proven himself as a leading man and has starred in a number of blockbusters. Unlike many Brits who make it big in Hollywood, Boyega still resides in London.
Batman, again! Star of The Batman, Robert Pattinson, has enjoyed an illustrious film career. His breakout role as Edward Cullen in the Twilight franchise catapulted him to international fame. Due to him having an American accent in the films, most people assume that Pattinson is an American. He was born and raised in London. He still lives there today. He followed up Twilight with a number of other roles that required an American accent so you would be forgiven if you forgot Pattinson was a British actor.
Grey’s Anatomy‘s Kevin McKidd has a flawless American accent as he plays Owen Hunt. McKidd is actually Scottish. McKidd became a US citizen in 2015 but he never lost his excellent accent. He has shown his Scottish pride stateside by being the Grand Marshall of the 15th annual Tartan Day Parade in New York City in 2013. He’s been acting in America’s favorite primetime soap, Grey’s Anatomy since 2008.
Another actor who has appeared in the Star Wars franchise, Riz Ahmed has can also be found in a number of high-profile projects that require him to use an American accent. The HBO miniseries The Night Of is one such example that found Ahmed the subject of critical acclaim. He further cemented his star power in Sound of Metal. He was born in Wembley, London in 1982. It won’t be long until we see this talented actor and musician speaking in an American accent once more.
If you remember Alfred Enoch from the Harry Potter franchise, you know that he has an English accent. But, his biggest role to date came in the form of a starring role opposite Viola Davis in ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder. He plays an American law student in the series without a trace of his native accent. A fun fact about Enoch is that he is fluent also in French, Portuguese, and Spanish. He holds dual Brazilian and British citizenship. He was born in Westminster, London in 1988.
Dominic Purcell, star of Prison Break, holds triple British-Irish-Australian citizenships. He was born in the UK but his entire family moved to Australia in the 1970s. His mother is Irish and that’s where that citizenship stems from. If you listen to Purcell’s accent today, he sounds like he’s speaking with a combination of English and Australian accents. When he’s on set, however, you’ll not hear a trace of his heritage as it’s been traded for his many characters’ American accents.
Kiefer Sutherland has lived quite a life. He was born in London before moving to California, later to Ontario, and finally, back to California to Hollywood. You most likely know him best from 24, in which he starred as Jack Bauer. Sutherland has been in the US and Canada for so long that he’s lost his English accent. He doesn’t have to look too far to get back in touch with it as his father, actor Donald Sutherland, knows a thing or two about putting on a killer English accent.
Tim Roth is a frequent collaborator with Roth collaborated with Quentin Tarantino on several films, such as Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Four Rooms, and The Hateful Eight. You’ve seen him using an American accent in so many of Tarantino’s movies it’s easy to forget that he’s originally from the UK. Roth was born in Dulwich, London in 1961 and still calls the city home today.
Sam Worthington has starred in mostly American roles for over a decade now. He is best known for his starring role in Avatar but he can also be seen in Terminator Salvation and FX’s new series Under the Banner of Heaven. He was born in London but his family moved to Australia. He was living in Los Angeles until 2021 when he and his family returned to Australia.
Another Spiderman! Andrew Garfield was born in the US but his family moved to the UK when he was three years old and he was raised in Surrey. There, he got his English accent but he never lost the ability to flip back to an American one thanks to his father being from California. Today, Garfield holds dual British-US citizenship and he splits his time between the two countries. He has a home in North London and has said that feels equally at home in both countries.
Jamie Bell has come a long way since he starred in Billy Elliot. His career took him from his home in England to the US to pursue acting roles. One of his latest projects, Shining Girls, finds him using an American accent that’s so convincing you’d never know he was English. His biggest roles (since Billy Elliot) have all found the star using an American accent. He recently purchased a home in Los Angeles so we assume that American accent will only continue to improve.
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Sir David Mark Rylance Waters is known better by his professional name, Mark Rylance. He’s one of the most prolific actors of his generation (hence the “Sir” in front of his name). He was born in Kent but lives in London today. He’s been on American stages as well as British ones and the same is true for his film roles which find him sporting a variety of accents. In fact, knowing what he sounds like out of character might seem totally illusive.
There you go! What did you think of these actors who have English accents? Can you believe some of these folks are from the UK? We hope you found some surprises on this list. There are just so many talented actors from the UK that most of us don’t even realize they’re not American. We aren’t sure why so many British folks are cast as Americans these days but, as you’ve seen, there are a bunch of them!
- 1 Did You Know The Following Actors Are Actually British?
- 1.1 Charlie Hunnam
- 1.2 Hugh Laurie
- 1.3 Andrew Lincoln
- 1.4 Chiwetel Ejiofor
- 1.5 Damian Lewis
- 1.6 Will Poulter
- 1.7 Dominic Cooper
- 1.8 Hugh Dancy
- 1.9 Matthew Rhys
- 1.10 Michael Sheen
- 1.11 Stephen Moyer
- 1.12 Henry Cavill
- 1.13 Christian Bale
- 1.14 Daniel Kaluuya
- 1.15 Tom Holland
- 1.16 Sacha Baron Cohen
- 1.17 Henry Golding
- 1.18 Gary Oldman
- 1.19 John Boyega
- 1.20 Robert Pattinson
- 1.21 Kevin McKidd
- 1.22 Riz Ahmed
- 1.23 Alfred Enoch
- 1.24 Dominic Purcell
- 1.25 Kiefer Sutherland
- 1.26 Tim Roth
- 1.27 Sam Worthington
- 1.28 Andrew Garfield
- 1.29 Jamie Bell
- 1.30 Mark Rylance
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