You know Hugh Laurie's English because you saw Blackadder or Jeeves And Wooster years before he turned up in House. And you know Henry Cavill is, too, because you've gone back to The Tudors and Immortals after seeing him in Man Of Steel. But if you're shocked to see The Wire's Idris Elba speaking with his own East London accent in Pacific Rim, you might be just as surprised to learn that these actors don't hail from south of the border either.
Yep: Batman is Welsh. It's amazing how many people didn't know that in 2008; I was in a roomful of American journalists for The Dark Knight interviews in Los Angeles, and at least half of them thought Christian Bale was putting them on when he said hello in his native speaking voice. No surprise, as he's spent more than a decade honing the perfect East Coast American dialect, from American Psycho to The Machinist to Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. Check out Reign Of Fire to hear him as himself... and to see him fight a few dragons.
Turns out Homeland's mercurial Nicholas Brody has been a double agent all along: Damian Lewis is actually a Londoner. But he's been doing flawless American accents for more than a decade, starting with the miniseries Band Of Brothers. Fun fact: the ridiculously plummy English accent he assumes in Dreamcatcher when his character is possessed by an evil alien is closer to his own voice than the that of character he's been playing.
That weird accent Rose Byrne uses in The Internship as an Australian expat who's spent too long in California? That's how she actually sounds. The invaluable co-star of Damages, Insidious and Bridesmaids (who also pops up in 28 Weeks Later as an American soldier operating under Idris Elba's command) was born in a suburb of Sydney, and her first film credit was opposite Heath Ledger - another Aussie master of accents - in Two Hands.
Okay, Peter Parker is a bit of a ringer. Born in Los Angeles, Andrew Garfield was raised half an hour outside London from the age of three, which gave him the power to shift back and forth between Yank and Brit accents seemingly at will. (His work in Boy A, Red Riding and Never Let Me Go barely seems to come from the same place as The Social Network and The Amazing Spider-Man.) But he does hold British citizenship, so he totally fits the criteria for this list.
The first time most people noticed Guy Pearce was in L.A. Confidential, where he played straight-arrow cop Ed Exley. People were impressed with his Kiwi co-star Russell Crowe's American accent, but didn't notice that the British-born Pearce - who moved to Australia at the age of three - was doing an equal if not better job of passing for a native Californian. Subsequently, Pearce has played Yankee protagonists in everything from Memento to Lockout. Only in Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark can you hear him fighting for control, likely because he made that movie in Melbourne surrounded by an Australian crew.