With "The Walking Dead" coming back after a break Sunday, I thought it would be fun to highlight British and Australian TV actors who have taken on American roles.
Why? Three major characters on "Walking Dead" are led by Brits for a show set in Georgia: Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes), David Morrissey (The Governor) and Lauren Cohan (Maggie Greene).
All three manage to pull off passable American accents, though some folks don't quite buy David's.
Lincoln's background includes playing Egg in BBC drama "This Life" and Simon on the sitcom "Teachers." Morrissey is an award-winning British actor with a ton of films and TV shows on his resume but this is his first effort at an American role. Cohan didn't have to work so hard perfecting her accent because she was actually American born but raised in Britain in her teen years.
There have literally been dozens of foreign-born actors who have done such a good job pretending to be American over the past decade on TV that I'm sure most viewers have no idea they weren't born here. And when we hear the actors as themselves in interviews, it's disconcerting hearing a British or Australian accent. (And yes, I included a couple of Scottish actors, too.)
- Hugh Laurie (British, "House", Fox, 2004-2012) the Emmy -winning British actor starred for eight seasons as acerbic, darkly sardonic Dr. Gregory House until last year. Word is that his American accent was so convincing, the producers didn't even know he was a Brit at first.
- Damian Lewis (British, "Homeland," Showtime, 2011-present) Another Emmy winner, he played Sgt. Nicholas Brody on two seasons of Showtime's "Homeland." He's done an American accent many times, including a Stephen King film "Dreamcatcher" and a film "Keane." He later starred briefly in NBC's "Life" in 2007 as a detective who served time for a crime he didn't commit.
- Simon Baker (Australian, "The Guardian," CBS 2001-2004, "The Mentalist," CBS, 2008-present) This charismatic actor has been the lead as an American on two different CBS dramas over the past 12 years.
- Anna Torv (Australia, "Fringe," Fox, 2008-2013). This actress starred in an Australian drama, then a BBC series before coming to America for this just-concluded sci-fi Fox drama as an FBI agent.
- John Noble (Australian, "Fringe," Fox, 2008-2013). This was the first big role in the U.S.
- Idris Elba (British, "The Wire," HBO, 2002-2008) - This actor was highly touted as a Baltimore drug lord in this critically acclaimed HBO series.
- Alan Cumming (Scottish, "The Good Wife," CBS, 2009-present) - He plays the political operative Eli Gold. Cumming became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2008.
- Kevin McKidd (Scottish, "Grey's Anatomy," 2005-present) - This actor entered during the fifth season as Dr. Owen Hunt, a U.S. Army trauma surgeon. Like Lewis, he was in a short-lived 2007 NBC drama, this one called "Journeyman."
- Yvonne Strahovski (Australian, "Chuck," NBC, 2007-2012) - This fetching actress played Chuck's spy/lover Sarah Walker and kicked some serious butt.
- Dominic Purcell (Australian, "Prison Break," Fox, 2005-2009) - An English-born Australian actcor, Purcell played tough-man Lincoln Burrows in Fox's "Prison Break."
- Ed Westwick (British, "Gossip Girl," the CW, 2007-2012) - He played the anti-heroic Chuck Bass on "Gossip Girl," which just concluded.
- Ryan Kwanten (Australian, "True Blood," HBO, 2008-present) - This actor plays Sookie's brother Jason Stackhouse.
- Stephen Moyer (British, "True Blood," HBO, 2008-present) - As a vampire on this hit show, this actor has dug deep into his role as vampire Bill Compton.
- Josh Bowman (British, "Revenge," ABC, 2011-present) - This is his first big role as Daniel Grayson, the eldest son of the Grayson family that Emily is trying to take down.
- Poppy Montgomery (Australian, "Without a Trace," CBS, 2002-2009, "Unforgettable," CBS, 2011-12) - Like Simon Baker, she gets double love from CBS, though her second series only lasted a year.
- Rachel Griffiths (Australian, "Six Feet Under," HBO, 2001-2005, "Brothers & Sisters," ABC, 2006-2011) - She played the emotionally scarred massage therapist Brenda Chenowith on HBO's 'Six Feet Under," winning Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards. She also received Golden Globe nominations for her work on "Brothers & Sisters."
- Rose Byrne (Australian, "Damages," FX/DirecTV, 2007-2012) - She earned boht Golden Globe and Emmy nominations as Emily Parsons in this complex drama.
- Toni Collette (Australian, "United States of Tara,' Showtime, 2009-2011) - She plays a woman with multiple personalities in this oddball Showtime series.
- Alex O'Loughlin (Australian, "Hawaii Five-O," CBS, 2010-present) - He is the lead in the re-make of this 1970s classic series and it's done pretty darn well for CBS.
The worst accent by a British actor trying to be American?
- English actor Mark Addy on CBS's "Stil Standing." He is supposedly from New York but his accent is godawfully wrong. A sampling: