November 29, 2007
A new magazine called “Russia!” (hat-tip to “J”) rates the best and worst Russian accents in Hollywood. They write: “Unlike the Muslim, Jewish and other communities, the Russians have been historically docile about being portrayed as drunk, murderous plotters. But that’s not the offensive part. The offensive part is being portrayed as a drunk, murderous plotter with a Czech name and a Transylvanian accent.”
Viggo Mortenson won for best accent in Eastern Promises (the movie was so-so but he really did a phenomenal job, particularly with the Russian dialect): “This year, we’re proud to acknowledge Mr. Mortensen, whose star turn in Eastern Promises is amazingly sensitive, multifaceted, and above all authentic. His character even speaks a specific old-school thief slang, and switches to Ukrainian when comforting a Ukrainian woman.”
John Malkovich has the second worst accent (Nicole Kidman “wins” the worst for some movie I never saw) for his terrible accent in “Rounders”:
Teddy KGB, a tracksuited card shark tormenting Matt Damon (playing his trademark male ingenue with one extra-special talent) in this underground-poker potboiler, is a patently ridiculous concoction. First of all, there’s the matter of that painful handle. “Teddy” – what’s his real name, Fedya? And what kind of Russian gangster would be called “KGB” by his peers? Not buyin’ it. Still, when Malkovich opens his mouth, his usual louche villainy works so well with his Russian accent that you believe in this preposterous character immediately, as if he was your own evil uncle. The magic ebbs somewhat when Malkovich says a couple of words in actual Russian – his pronunciation, surprisingly, falters.
On a sidenote: I want the Russophobe mug.