Some of these British actors have been praised for their flawless American accents, while others have been called out for voice work that sounds a bit "off" to native speakers. Many TV critics have panned this recent Brit-as-American trend, most notably Noel Murray of the AV Club. In a recent article, Murray panned the "New York" accent of British actor Theo James in "Golden Boy."
Murray argued, "There have been so many English and Australian actors taking starring roles on American TV that it's starting to become distracting. When I watched the first episode of 'Golden Boy,' it took about five minutes of listening to James talk before I realized not only that he wasn't a real New Yorker, but that he probably wasn't American. And while he's good in this role, he's not so good that the part couldn't have been played by somebody else."
That being said, there are plenty of actors from across the pond who completely fly under the radar of TV critics and TV fans. These actors become completely immersed in their roles, and their accents never betray them.
One such actor is Laura Fraser, who had a recurring role on Season 5 of "Breaking Bad" as Lydia Rodarte-Quayle. Even those who had seen Fraser in other projects didn't recognize her at first, especially given her rock-solid American accent. Though you wouldn't know it to hear her speak on "Breaking Bad," Laura Fraser is Glasgow-born. She has played memorable roles on British television, including Emily Trevelyan in "He Knew He Was Right." She also starred opposite Heath Ledger in "A Knight's Tale."
British actor Idris Elba also scores high marks with American TV fans. Before he gained widespread fame, few TV fans had any idea that the man who played Stringer Bell on "The Wire" and Charles Miner on "The Office" wasn't American.
And while opinions about the "American" accent used by British actor Ed Westwick on "Gossip Girl" are somewhat divided, the accent totally worked. Chuck Bass was a snooty, hedonistic, and moneyed character; giving him an American accent with a dash of Thurston Howell III made the character iconic. Fans loved to hear Westwick announce, "I'm Chuck Bass," in his indolent drawl.
While some British actors will always stick out like a sore thumb on American TV, fans can take comfort in knowing that there are just as many performers from across the pond who blend seamlessly with their American accents.
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