If you think of some of the most chilling movie villains of all time, more often than not they’ll have a polished British accent and it’s no accident. Linguist Chi Luu told JSTOR Daily that’s because the British accent – also known as the Queen’s English – makes people appear “more educated, intelligent, competent, physically attractive, and generally of a higher socioeconomic class.”
Okay, so a British accent makes a character seem posh and smart. But evil?
Luu said the accent also has a dark side, with people who speak it also seeming “less trustworthy, kind, sincere and friendly”, meaning it’s the perfect storm of evilness.
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The problem with this is that British actors and actresses often get typecast as the evil ones and at least one British actress has a problem with this.
Speaking at an event in Los Angeles to celebrate British success in Hollywood, Helen Mirren commented on the stereotype. “I think it’s rather unfortunate,’ she said, “that the villain in every movie is always British.
“We’re such an easy target that they can comfortably make the Brits the villains.”
”It’s just nice to say we’re not snooty, stuck up, malevolent, malignant creatures as we’re so often portrayed. We’re actually kind of cool and hip.”
But that didn’t stop her from mentioning that she’d love to play a villain in the next installment of the Fast & the Furious movie franchise. It’s just a cameo, but she reportedly insisted on doing her own driving during filming. The movie will be released later this year.
Helen Mirren as Victoria Winslow in he movie Red says British actors and actresses are "easy targets" when it comes to casting villains. Image: Summit Entertainment[/img_caption
Even characters not being played by British actors or actresses still tend to play the roles sounding a little British, such as American actor James Earl Jones as Darth Vader in the Star Wars movies.
Chuu also says that the British accent is used to sound 'evil' simply because it's different from the more universal American accent (in Hollywood at least).
When casting a villain in an American-produced movie, an accent that seems foreign or "other" is ideal. Add that to the fact that the British accent is so posh and polished, and you have a casting match made in heaven, New York Magazine reports.