Wednesday, November 26, 2008

British Invasion [Observation]

While I've understood for a while that there's a whole bunch of Brits/Aussies/Irish/Scots playing American on television, yesterday it finally occurred to me a. just how many there really are and b. that I have no idea what the reason is behind this

Now before I go on, let me make this clear, I'm all about diversity on television - this isn't about patriotism or racism or any other ism. Not to mention, as resident Fanboy contributor David pointed out, the talent outside of this country is immense - remember the Oscars last year and how not a single American actor won an Oscar? I loved that. And I love pretty much every show I've ever seen from England, Australia or New Zealand. This is merely an observation of an unprecedented phenomenon, for which an explanation could be fun to figure out. Or at least kill a couple minutes.

So to begin, a list of current television programs with at least one member of the Commonwealth (Yes, I said Commonwealth) in a lead role, using an American accent. By the way, I'm not including actors who were cast for their already existing iconic status i.e. Malcolm McDowell on Heroes. And Canadians, in the Commonwealth but without super fun (only sort of fun) accents, get an asterisk.

Brothers & Sisters (Double Offense)
True Blood (Double Offense)
Boston Legal (Double Offense...but off the show now)
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Gossip Girl
How I Met Your Mother* (Edit - doesn't count. Canadian playing Canadian)
Prison Break
The Mentalist
Without a Trace (Double Offense)
Pushing Daisies
Grey's Anatomy
Eleventh Hour
Eli Stone
Life on Mars
Knight Rider*
Battlestar Galactica (Not counting the Canadians cause most of the Cast is Canadian...)
Burn Notice
Cold Case*

And a list of shows I know for sure are cast with all American actors

Mad Men
Private Practice
30 Rock
The Office

Then there are a bunch of shows I'm not sure about like all the CSIs & Law & Orders.

Now I won't give Canadians TOO hard of a time cause at least they've been pretending to be American on our television sets since the 80s, but still, where are the American teens on Degrassi, I ask you?? Where??

What does this say about American drama schools and the tons of American actors who would never be hired to act in England, Ireland, Scotland, Australia or Canada?

And what is the reason behind this? Could it POSSIBLY be accurate that American actors, 120,000 in SAG alone (not including the countless non-union actors & AFTRA members) just aren't good enough? Is it a mere coincidence? Or was every one of these actors spotted in something else and had to be snatched up, like in the case of Kevin McKidd? Or is it a fun novelty that in interviews the studios' lead actors would suddenly have accents? I mean, I love people with accents. I suppose if I were auditioning actors and had to choose between a great American actor and a great British actor who could do a perfect American accent but had an adorable British accent all other times...Not to mention Brits, Scots, Irish & Aussies seem generally cooler and Canadians generally nicer...As a friend of mine pointed out, "they dont like guns like we do. or depriving people of civil rights and health care."

But is THAT the mentality? Cause American actors aren't cool enough when the cameras aren't rolling?

Wait. Is this revenge for Renee Zellweger playing Bridget Jones and Anne Hathaway playing Jane Austen?

EQUITY has very strict rules about things like this. Under current rules, a British or American producer who wants to bring a British actor to New York must seek the approval of American Actors Equity, just as British Equity's approval is needed to bring an American actor to London. And usually if one of them is starring on the Great White Way over here, one of our guys is on their West End.

But wait a second...from a 2007 article in the International Herald Tribune,

They have still another advantage, which only one network executive was willing to mention: They work more cheaply. The executive said it is increasingly difficult to get an American actor in a lead role for less than $100,000 an episode. British actors work for considerably less, the executive said, though the figures vary.


Well, at the end of the day it doesn't really matter. I just found it fascinating how many actors are putting on American accents on television right now. Any theories on the matter? Did I miss anyone? Post below!


Reg said...

If you count Luke MacFarlane, who is Canadian, in addition to the Aussie and the Welsh boy, Brothers & Sisters is doing triple offence.

LoquaciousMuse said...

Rachel Griffiths = quadruple offense!!!

skippykawakami said...

Wait... Why does "How I Met Your Mother" count? Cobie's character is Canadian (they've made several references and even had a couple of episodes based around her Canadian-ity). Surely that's the same as a British actor playing a British character? (Incidentally, if you're referring to another character on the show, then "oops, my bad!", but I assumed that since you had a picture of Cobie Smulders, you meant her).

LoquaciousMuse said...

You're so right! She is Canadian playing Canadian, so that shouldn't count! For some reason it didn't strike me the same way as Brit playing Brit, but you're totally right, haha. I wonder if they actively sought out a Canadian for the role or made Robin Canadian after they cast Cobie.