Bladdy hell mate! Somebody get Oscar Isaac a cuppa tea cos he’s had a bladdy ‘mare! Translation: Oscar Isaac can’t do a British accent.
Or at least so it would seem from the newly released trailer for Marvel series Moon Knight, in which Isaac plays a man who is unable to discern the difference between night and day, waking life and dreams. Or as he would have it, “ma wakin’ liiiife... and dreams. Ah’m losin’ it!”
Sounding like the love child of Stath from Stath Lets Flats and Billy Mitchell, he endearingly mangles the British accent like someone who got on the Northern Line without ever knowing there are two branches. It’s a relief to know that he, too, is human – like catching someone you fancy singing Freedom by Wham! out of tune. I suspect his “you saand like you’re from Laaandan!” voice will only make audiences more excited to see Moon Knight when it premieres on Disney+ on March 30.
It’s also a pleasure to usher him into the hall of fame of terrible on-screen accents, a roll call of honour that gives the film and TV-watching public much more pleasure than someone doing an accent competently. A bad accent like this generates enough feverish delight to stop people in their tracks – to make them step away from Wordle, to stop them having arguments about the BBC license fee, and simply feel awe at its terribleness. Watching someone begin in Kent, travel through to East London and end up somewhere that’s impossible to pinpoint on any map is a unique joy.
Dick Van Dyke is of course the ubermensch of bad accents. The cockney voice he attempted in Mary Poppins in 1964 has a legacy of its own – you have to turn your head to the side just to try and tune into its frequency. Ridley Scott is the master of overseeing varying levels of accent experimentation. House of Gucci, released at the end of last year, featured Italian accents of such ranging quality that my colleague Katie Rosseinsky ranked them. Bottom of the pile was poor Jared Leto, his performance summarised beautifully by Katie: “It’s as if his two main vocal influences were Mario the plumber and that viral video of Gino D’Acampo telling Holly Willoughby “if my grandmother had wheels, she would have been a bike” during a This Morning cookery segment.”
Released around the same time was Scott’s wig-laden The Last Duel, set in 14th century France. The note re accents seems to have been “see how you get on”. Elsewhere, “Irish accent emergency declared after Wild Mountain Thyme trailer” was how RTE News reported social media’s response to the recent flop romantic drama. The only person who escaped unscathed was Jon Hamm, since he was doing his own (American) accent. And that’s considering the fact that one of the lead cast, Jamie Dornan, actually IS Irish.
Of course, a strong personal favourite of mine is Anne Hathaway trying to do – whatever it was – in One Day. In the film her character Emma spoke of “a fortnight in a caravan in Whitby drinking Cup-a-Soup”; her vague northern/somewhere in Britain twang suggested it wasn’t method acting.
We each of us in this life have certain things that, no matter how hard we try, we can’t do it. It’s just too hard. For me, it’s making white sauce. For Oscar Isaac, it’s doing a British accent. But bladdy hell! It’s fun watching him have a go.