The 8 Worst Boston Accents in Film … According to Real Bostonians
Irish? Cinch. English? Even easier. Russian? Please, comrade — a piece of topt* Boston? Now there’s a hard accent to pull off.
Tom Hanks is getting some mild criticism for his rather broad Boston accent in “Captain Phillips” … though, if you compare them, he actually sounds exactly like the real guy. Like, exactly.
Here are some actors who haven’t done so well with their Beantown sounds, according to some genuine Bostonians we reached out to on Facebook.
8. Jeff Bridges, “Blown Away” (1994)
Jeff Bridges may have perfectly embodied an aging L.A. slacker/bowler/accidental philosopher in “The Big Lebowski,” but a former Irish terrorist who’s reinvented himself as a Boston Bomb Squad officer in order to find redemption? Not so much, at least where the vocal quality is concerned. Bridges’ Boston accent as Jimmy Dove/Liam McGivney was nearly as bad as Tommy Lee Jones’s Irish one in the film. It’s genuinely “awful,” Kate Sweetser Owens says of Bridges’s Boston inflection.
7. Kevin Costner, “Thirteen Days” (2000)
We love Kevin Costner in so many movies: “Bull Durham,” “The Untouchables,” “JFK,” and this summer’s “Man of Steel.” But accents have never been his forte. He mangled his English accent in “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” (to the point where Mel Brooks called him out on it in “Robin Hood: Men in Tights”) and couldn’t quite pull off the Boston accent for his role as Special Assistant to the President Kenneth O’Donnell in his other JFK movie, “Thirteen Days.” He gets the worst-ever vote from Kelly Davies Michelena.
6. Mel Gibson, “Edge of Darkness” (2010)
Australia’s own Mad Mel has been doing a terrific American accent for decades, convincingly sounding like a born-and-bred Yankee in films such as “Lethal Weapon,” “Tequila Sunrise,” and “Signs.” However, the Boston dialect proved to be his undoing in his pretty-good revenge thriller, “Edge of Darkness.” Gibson’s accent as Tom Craven, a Boston homicide detective on the trail of his daughter’s killer, gets a “worst ever” vote from Christine Burke.
4. and 5. Marcia Gay Harden and Laura Linney, “Mystic River” (2003)
Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon have generally received high marks for their accents in director Clint Eastwood’s dark murder mystery, “Mystic River.” However, the wives haven’t fared as well, with Laura Linney and Marcia Gay Harden getting low scores from Bostonians. Katie Gallagher Higgins calls both of their accents “horrific,” though both P.T. Vineburgh and Johnny Dow were especially unimpressed with Linney’s “bad” work.
3. Diane Lane, “The Perfect Storm” (2000) — Hear her accent at 29 seconds-in:
She continues to be one of the most popular celebrity crushes of all time. But while Diane Lane may be a gorgeous and talented, she’ll apparently never, ever sound like she’s from Boston. Diane Lane’s accent as Chris Cotter, the temperamental ladyfriend of Bobby Shatford (Mark Wahlberg) in “The Perfect Storm,” received the harshest criticism from Dave Murphy: “If anyone tells you that ANYONE was worse than Diane Lane in ‘The Perfect Storm’ — then they never saw it.” Ouch!
2. Julianne Moore, “30 Rock” (Season 4, 2009-2010)
Okay, we threw in one television show, since it kept finding its way into the conversation: Julianne Moore’s accent as Jack Donaghy’s (Alec Baldwin) would-be hometown ladylove Nancy Donovan might get a pass from non-natives due to the broad comedy context of “30 Rock,” but actual Bostonians aren’t being so generous. Elizabeth Coughlin calls the Oscar-nominated actress’s accent on the show just plain “bad” and Marybeth Feeney Shea calls it “the worst.”
1. Martin Sheen, “The Departed” (2006)
Director Martin Scorsese’s Boston-set crime thriller earned some cred by having natives like Mark Wahlberg and Matt Damon in the cast. However, the non-Bostonians had a hard time with the dialect, with Christine Burke calling Leonardo DiCaprio’s accent “wicked bad” and Sam Silverstein calling out Jack Nicholson’s as “a continuity problem — it came and went.” The worst offender, though, was Martin Sheen, whose accent was, according to Kevin Bowes, “laughably bad … especially when he says ‘micro processors.’”
The celebs listed here shouldn’t despair too much, though, as Tim O’Brien says the actor who’s done the worst Boston accent is actually …
“Every single non-Bostonian actor EVER, with the exception of John Ratzenberger who played Cliff on ‘Cheers.’ Robin Williams did OK in ‘Good Will Hunting’ I thought. But then again, he’s an extra terrestrial, so any human vernacular is an affectation for him to begin with.”