Harry Potter actress Emma Watson has been known over the past decade for her wavy auburn hair, impressive knowledge of spells, and her British accent. But in the trailer for her latest role in the film adaptation of the best-selling book The Perks of Being a Wallflower, out in September, her hair is cropped just short enough to fit behind her ears, and her native accent has been swapped out for a faux American one. From Christian Bale to Andrew Garfield, see other foreign stars who have changed their accents to take on American roles.
English actor Ed Westwick masks his heavy accent to play the sly and womanizing Chuck Bass on The CW’s Gossip Girl. Westwick manages to deliver an iconic and memorable American voice, smooth-talking his way into the beds of New York’s most attractive women.
DC Comics’ favorite vigilante was born and raised in Gotham City, a suburb that looks like modern-day Chicago on meth. But English actor Christian Bale, who portrays the latest brooding Batman, had to adopt an Americanized version of the trademark breathy Batman voice for the franchise.
Titanic, Sense and Sensibility, The Holiday—English actress Kate Winslet’s most memorable roles showcase her natural British accent. But almost as shocking as Jim Carrey taking on a dramatic role in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Winslet puts on an American accent, and rocks it. Playing the love interest Carrey will do anything to forget, she tosses out her usual corset and curls for green-highlighted hair and a cool, casual demeanor.
Before he played a drug-addicted and thick-skinned M.D. on House, the popular medical drama, Hugh Laurie was better known for his comedic side. He’s done voice work for The Simpsons, Stuart Little, and Family Guy. He’s been on the TV sitcom Friends, the fan-favorite Spice World, and even starred in a British dramedy, Jeeves and Wooster. But in House, not only does he put his comedic talents aside, he also sports a well-rehearsed American accent.
The Amazing Spiderman lead and boyfriend to current “it” girl Emma Stone, Andrew Garfield is getting used to covering up his British accent and replacing it with an American one. In 2010’s The Social Network, the retelling of the history of Facebook, Garfield plays Eduardo Saverin, creator Mark Zuckerberg’s innocent and screwed-over friend. His normal higher-pitched voice and British inflections were masked by a meek but convincing American accent.
In a huge transformation, the handsome Irish actor Colin Farrell became a nasty, balding corporate boss, with an American twang to boot, for Horrible Bosses.
The polite, mild-mannered English actor Daniel Day-Lewis took on his Oscar-winning role in There Will Be Blood with a convincing fervor, dropping his British accent and picking up an American one to play an oil tycoon in Southern California. He’s taken on a variety of voices throughout his career, including a New York drawl in 2002’s Gangs of New York.
Apparently Panem, the post-apocalyptic realm in Suzanne Collins’s fantastical young-adult bestseller The Hunger Games is inhabited by American English speakers. For the role of Gale in the 2012 movie adaptation, native Australian Liam Hemsworth abandoned his Down Under voice and delivered a simple but convincing American accent.
English actor Guy Pearce played a forgetful husband desperate to avenge his wife’s murder in 2000’s Memento. In a film heavy with inner dialogue, mastering his character’s American voice was crucial—and he nailed it.
A staple of the Batman and Harry Potter franchises, seasoned English actor Gary Oldman often gets to use his naturally accented voice. But back in 2001, the respected actor took on an American accent for a cameo appearance on the sitcom Friends, playing Joey’s war-film costar.