Benedict Cumberbatch's Accent Game Is Beyond Impressive

Benedict Cumberbatch's Accent Game Is Beyond Impressive
Kirsty Griffin/Netflix

This content was paid for by Netflix and created by Looper.

Benedict Cumberbatch is one of the most esteemed actors in the industry, with critical acclaim for his searing work in dramatic films, along with massive box office wins in some of the biggest blockbuster franchises. Plus, he’s got a few iconic small screen roles under his belt to boot. Though Cumberbatch hails from London, England, and enjoyed an auspicious start to his career with his celebrated work in theater and British television productions, he’s since proven that he can portray characters from essentially anywhere across the globe.

In Jane Campion’s thrilling adaptation of “The Power of the Dog,” Cumberbatch delivers an outstanding performance as the villainous Phil Burbank, a successful ranch owner who’s both cruel and deeply conflicted. The film is set in 1920s Montana, so to prepare for the role, Cumberbatch learned to ride horses like a rancher, play the banjo, and actually braid rawhide ropes.

Considering that Phil’s every utterance is chilling, it may be easy to forget that Cumberbatch isn’t naturally such a steely and stern sounding individual. In real life, his voice is actually quite soothing and gentlemanly. His authenticity with the rancher’s accent is a powerful part of why his “Power of the Dog” performance resonates so well, but it’s hardly the first time Cumberbatch has impressed with his command of elocution. Here’s a look at why Benedict Cumberbatch’s accent game is beyond impressive.

Benedict Cumberbatch goes stateside

Benedict Cumberbatch's Accent Game Is Beyond Impressive
Marvel Studios

Throughout much of Cumberbatch’s filmography, particularly when it comes to his early work, he retains his natural British dialect. However, the actor revealed his strength for adopting an American accent relatively early on, in his role as Nick Kaufman in 2010’s “The Whistleblower.” His ability to slip into such a convincing American accent would prove to be an asset in some of his biggest cinematic roles to follow, as fans have since heard him utilize his U.S. accent in films like “Doctor Strange” and “The Grinch.”

In those cases, however, it was Cumberbatch himself who had to fight for the right to use an American affectation, instead of sticking to his British roots. Cumberbatch revealed in 2018 that he was initially asked to portray his MCU superhero, Dr. Stephen Strange, as someone who was originally from England, but he insisted otherwise, saying, “Doctor Strange, for a while, was going to be English, and I went, ‘No, no, he’s an American doctor. He works in New York.'” 

The actor had a similar experience when it came to voicing everybody’s green holiday favorite, the Grinch, in the animated adaptation. As he explained to Uproxx, “They said, ‘Oh, could you do it in your own voice?’ And I went, ‘Oh, right, I have played some other socially awkward, talented, but at times very rude English characters. So now I kind of get why they might want me to do that.’ I was really flattered, and then I just pushed back and said, ‘It has to be in an American accent from my point of view.'”

Of course, his efforts and insistence paid off with both of those films, and his source of inspiration for the American accent he uses in his Marvel movies might surprise some fans. As he told Vulture in 2016, he looked to “Doctor Strange” director Scott Derrickson for notes on how to speak with an American accent, but he also leaned on his memory of another movie icon: Harrison Ford. “You want a man like Harrison Ford in any film of this nature, but I don’t think it’s a Harrison Ford impression,” Cumberbatch explained about his MCU role. “But I think he’s just subconsciously a great influence on my childhood era.” 

Interestingly enough, there was one very inconvenient word that gave Cumberbatch a bit of trouble in the pronouncing process. No, we’re not talking about “penguins” this time, but rather, he struggled with the word “sorcerer” while tackling the part, which was especially humorous since, you know, Doctor Strange is a sorcerer, so he has to say it quite a lot in the films.

The man can do some incredible dialects

Benedict Cumberbatch's Accent Game Is Beyond Impressive
STXfilms

It’s not just generic American accents that Cumberbatch has come to conquer over the years. He’s also honed in on some of the most specific sounds from across the country and around the world. In addition to his vintage Montana rancher tones for “The Power of the Dog,” audiences have also heard him tackle everything from a Southern sound to portraying an infamous Aussie.

For his role in the harrowing 2013 biopic “12 Years a Slave,” which features Cumberbatch as antebellum Louisiana plantation and slave owner William Ford, Cumberbatch’s dialect coach, Michael Buster, looked to a very specific source for inspiration. Buster told the Los Angeles Times that he helped Cumberbatch develop an accent for the film that was based upon “upper-class New Orleanians from the ’30s.”

He soon mastered the Australian accent to portray Julian Assange in “The Fifth Estate,” and in the critically acclaimed 2013 adaptation of “August: Osage County,” he took on a rural Oklahoma accent to portray “Little Charles” Aiken. In “Black Mass,” audiences could hear him mastering the vowel sounds of a native Boston accent. In “The Current War,” he played inventor Thomas Edison with a Northern U.S. sound. And in “The Mauritanian,” he portrayed the North Carolina-born Naval prosecutor Lt. Col. Stuart Couch, who provided the actor with some of his own voice recordings for reference and was pleased with the Southern drawl he heard. As the actor revealed to USA Today, “Stuart heard my accent and said I did it ‘spot on.'”

Cumberbatch's hearty humor

Benedict Cumberbatch's Accent Game Is Beyond Impressive
Funny or Die

Even though many of Cumberbatch’s screen roles can be very serious and intimidating, in real life, he’s a complete card. Look no further than the outtakes from “Between Two Ferns” for an example of his willingness to laugh at himself, as Zach Galifianakis jokes, “If you didn’t have an accent, do you think people would be able to tell that you’re not a very good actor?”

At the same time, he’s able to switch into another accent altogether on a dime. While appearing on “The Graham Norton Show” in 2014, for example, he was challenged to share his quirky impression of “Star Wars” character Jar Jar Binks on the spot and turn on his sound for Smaug from his fire-breathing role in “The Hobbit” trilogy, and he didn’t miss a beat. He also pulled off an on-the-spot Brooklyn accent when challenged by late-night host Jimmy Kimmel in 2019.

All in all, Benedict Cumberbatch is one of the most vocally versatile actors in Hollywood, and with “The Power of the Dog,” he adds yet another accent to his impressive catalog of achievements.

News Related

OTHER NEWS

The Top 10 Westerns According To The AFI

Warner Bros. Pictures Is there any genre more classically and uniquely American than the Western? Cowboys, vast desert landscapes, saloon fights, chases on horseback — the Western has it all, ... Read more »

The Real Reason Rob Schneider Wasn't In Grown Ups 2

Featureflash Photo Agency/Shutterstock Rob Schneider was always part of the Adam Sandler crew. Schneider, Sandler, Chris Rock, David Spade, and Chris Farley all joined the “Saturday Night Live” cast during ... Read more »

Lights, camera ... Australians!

The Bowie knife brandished by Paul Hogan in the Croc Dundee blockbusters and the white dress worn by a gushing Toni Collette in Muriel's Wedding are just two iconic items ... Read more »

Most Memorable Thanos Quotes In The MCU

Marvel Studios/Disney When the Marvel Cinematic Universe kicked off in 2008 with “Iron Man,” it introduced us to the first chapter in the sprawling “Infinity Saga” – the overarching storyline ... Read more »

The Untold Truth Of David Arquette

Eugene Powers/Shutterstock David Arquette stands in an especially unique position among Hollywood stars. Both of his parents were performers — and, in fact, his family’s interest in acting goes back ... Read more »

The Don Rickles Joke You Probably Missed In Toy Story As A Kid

Walt Disney/Pixar From Nala flirtatiously batting her eyelids at Simba as Elton John’s “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” plays in the background to Shrek suggesting that Lord Farquaad is ... Read more »

Djimon Hounsou Confirms What We All Suspected About Heath Ledger's On-Set Behavior

Chris Weeks/Getty At age 17, Heath Ledger moved from his native Perth, Australia, to Sydney to pursue an acting career (via Britannica). He struggled for a few years before landing ... Read more »

The Real Reason Louie Anderson Was Cast In Coming To America

ParamountPictures/YouTube On Friday morning, news broke that the beloved comedian Louie Anderson had passed away at the age of 68. The Emmy winner is perhaps best known for creating the ... Read more »

Worst Decisions Halloween Characters Made In The Franchise

Dimension Films Horror movie characters are just as flawed and easily confused as the rest of us. Criticizing the decisions they make as being stupid has been a cliche for ... Read more »

Mikey Madison And Sonia Ammar Give Their Honest Thoughts On The Female-Dominated Scream Cast - Exclusive

Paramount Pictures When it comes to horror’s track record for proper female representation in horror movies, let’s just say it’s less than ideal. The original “Scream” addresses this topic in ... Read more »

Dylan Minnette Geeks Out Over Being A Scream Fan Before Joining The Cast - Exclusive

Paramount Pictures The 1996 film “Scream” not only defined a generation of fans, but the meta-horror film inspired an upcoming class of actors, too. The vibe of the franchise’s first ... Read more »

This Netflix Romcom Just Stole Fans Hearts

Kirsty Griffin/Netflix During the holiday season, Netflix is abuzz with different romantic comedies. This is the prime time for romance, and the streaming platform has a lot of options. TV ... Read more »

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Timeline Explained

Yana Blajeva/Netflix This content was paid for by Netflix and created by Looper. In 1974, the world of horror cinema was changed forever with the arrival of “The Texas Chain ... Read more »

We Finally Know What Johnny Depp's Next Movie Role Will Be

Denis Makarenko/Shutterstock Once one of the more prolific stars in Hollywood, Johnny Depp’s career has been (relatively) on the skids ever since domestic abuse allegations were made by ex-wife Amber ... Read more »

Johnny Depp's Best Co-Stars Ranked

New Line Cinema Johnny Depp’s career is even more impressive than you think. He has been acting on the big screen since he landed his first role in 1984’s “A ... Read more »

The Untold Truth Of Toby Stephens

Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images From his first on-screen appearance in Sally Potter’s 1992 Virginia Woolf adaptation “Orlando,” British actor Toby Stephens has made a name for himself across film, television, radio, ... Read more »

Why Maxwell Lord's Powers In Wonder Woman 1984 Make No Sense

Warner Bros. Pictures/YouTube “Wonder Woman 1984” is the sequel to 2017’s “Wonder Woman,” the solo film for Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince, who first appeared in 2016’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of ... Read more »

'Spider-Man: No Way Home' sets new pandemic box office record

A scene from the film “Spider-Man: No Way Home” / Courtesy of Sony Pictures By Lee Gyu-lee Marvel’s latest superhero flick “Spider-Man: No Way Home” has surpassed 7 million ticket ... Read more »

Political films to hit theaters ahead of 2022 presidential election

A footage of Kim Dae-jung delivering a speech in the documentary film “President” / Courtesy of Blue Film Works By Kwak Yeon-soo With only seven weeks before the 20th presidential ... Read more »

Director Joung Yumi's 'House of Existence' selected for Berlinale Shorts

By Kwak Yeon-soo The poster for the film, “House of Existence” / Courtesy of KOFIC Director Joung Yumi’s “House of Existence” was selected for the Berlinale Shorts competition of this ... Read more »

'Parasite' director preparing to adapt sci-fi novel into film with Warner Bros.

Filmmaker Bong Joon-ho / Korea Times file Oscar-winning filmmaker Bong Joon-ho will likely come back with an English-language movie based on an unpublished U.S. science-fiction novel on clones, with Hollywood ... Read more »

The Real Reason Daniel Radcliffe And Emma Watson Didn't Quit Harry Potter

Warner Bros. At this point, the “Harry Potter” franchise is deeply ingrained in the fabric of global pop culture. The bestselling books were turned into blockbuster movies that raked in ... Read more »

In Meat Loaf's Acting Career, One Role Stands Above The Rest

Dave J Hogan/Getty In the world of performing arts, no rock star was as versatile and unique as Meat Loaf. The singer was born Marvin Lee Aday and is known ... Read more »

The Video Game Movie You Forgot Meat Loaf Was In

Roy Rochlin/Getty Images Meat Loaf, the rock star behind iconic songs like “Bat Out of Hell” and “I’d Do Anything for Love,” has passed away at the age of 74. ... Read more »

Neve Campbell's Best Film And TV Roles To Date

Lev Radin/Shutterstock The release of “Scream,” the fifth installment in the “Scream” franchise, will bring Neve Campbell’s Sidney Prescott to a whole new audience as she takes on the Ghostface ... Read more »

Will Snow White And The Huntsman 3 Ever Happen?

Universal/Youtube On paper, “Snow White and the Huntsman” seems like a pretty solid franchise that could potentially run forever. Drawing inspiration from one of the most beloved fairy tales of ... Read more »

What Is The Kirby Krackle In The MCU?

Marvel Studios/Disney The Marvel Cinematic Universe is not exactly short of weird events. Though Phase 1 kept things comparatively grounded, the introductions of various space-faring heroes and villains, Doctor Strange (Benedict ... Read more »

The Character Everyone Forgets Glenn Close Played In Hook

DFree/Shutterstock Sometimes the strangest cameos have often occurred simply because the actor was there at the right set at the right time. Following the release of “The Matrix Resurrections,” it ... Read more »

The Sorcerer's Apprentice In Fantasia Was Almost Completely Different

Disney These days, the Walt Disney Company is a massive media conglomerate that hosts everything from Pixar to Marvel Studios. However, as one could imagine, it didn’t start out this ... Read more »

Brandy Agreed To Star In Whitney's Houston's Cinderella Under One Condition

Amy Sussman/Getty Images If you want to watch “Cinderella,” there are numerous on-screen versions you can check out, from Disney’s animated 1950s version to Drew Barrymore’s “Ever After” and most ... Read more »

The Adventures Of Maid Marian Release Date, Cast, And Plot - What We Know So Far

Signature Entertainment/Picture Perfect In all of English history, there may be no better-known series of folk tales than those of Robin Hood and his Merry Men. Along with the myths ... Read more »

Best Improvised Moments In The MCU

Sony Pictures Marvel Studios is well known for thoughtfully planning every movie and television series well in advance. Many have credited the success of their cinematic universe to studio boss ... Read more »

Most Memorable Dumbledore Quotes In The Harry Potter Movies

Warner Bros. Pictures Of all the characters in the “Harry Potter” universe, the one you can always rely on to impart some well-timed words of wisdom is Hogwarts headmaster, Albus ... Read more »

Why Carol From Single Drunk Female Looks So Familiar

Hulu/Youtube From “The Bold Type” to “The Fosters,” Freeform has become a go-to destination for wholesome programming families of all different stripes can enjoy. It’s carved out a unique niche for ... Read more »

Don Cheadle Confirms What We Suspected About Brie Larson's On-Set Behavior

Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty The Marvel Cinematic Universe is filled with actors portraying all sorts of superheroes, usually in their own individual movies or shows. However, given that the MCU is a ... Read more »

Why Juggernaut's X-Men: The Last Stand Costume Makes No Sense

20th Century Fox/Youtube “X-Men: The Last Stand” is widely considered to be the shakiest of 20th Century Fox’s early 2000s superhero trilogy. While not the worst “X-Men” film of the series, it ... Read more »

Most Memorable Wonder Woman Quotes In The DCEU

Warner Bros. First appearing in print in 1941, the character of Wonder Woman was created by psychologist William Moulton Marston — inventor of the lie detector test — to instill ... Read more »

Batgirl Set Video Provides First Look At One Of The DCEU's Most-Anticipated Characters

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Slowly but surely, behind-the-scenes leaks have begun trickling out for the upcoming HBO Max live-action movie “Batgirl.” The film will see “In the Heights” star Leslie Grace donning ... Read more »

Why Sam Wilson's Captain America Costume Makes No Sense

Marvel/Disney+/YouTube The second Disney+ Marvel Cinematic Universe show, “Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” bears the rare distinction of ending with a different title than the one it starts with. By ... Read more »

Melissa Barrera Explains How Her Scream Character Defies Toxic Horror Mental Health Tropes - Exclusive

Jamie Mccarthy/Getty Images The following article contains mild plot details from “Scream” (2022).  “Scream” has long since acknowledged some of horror’s most toxic tropes, but the franchise has typically played ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic