8 American Celebrities You Didn’t Know Were Really British

December 30, 2013

1. Daniel Day-Lewis

Daniel Day Lewis

After his amazing turn as Abraham Lincoln last year, you would never guess that Daniel Day-Lewis was born in London. Not only that, his father was the UK’s poet laureate for some time. Day-Lewis spent the early part of his career doing UK television and stage productions before making his American debut in the 1980’s. We’ve believed he was American ever since.

2. Kiefer Sutherland

Kiefer Sutherland

Also born in London to Canadian parents, Kiefer Sutherland hasn’t the slightest hint of a British accent. Yet his earliest years were spent there, before coming to Canada and then to America to complete his schooling and start his acting career.

3. Christian Bale

Christian Beil

Born in Wales, the Dark Knight started his career on London’s West End before moving immediately into American TV and movies. His childhood was spent traveling all over the world with his English mother and South African father, which may account for his ease in adopting any accent.

4. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

Born and raised in London, no one would ever know it when watching this talented actor as the popular Mr. Eko on ABC’s “Lost” or in any number of the other American TV roles in which he has starred. He doesn’t display a hint of a British accent when called upon to portray characters of other nationalities, and it comes as a surprise to most people to learn of his UK origins.

5. Lennie James


If you’re into The Walking Dead, you know Lennie James as an actor. What you might not know is that he is from Nottingham, UK (yes, that Nottingham, of Robin Hood and “Sheriff of” fame).

His parents are UK immigrants from Trinidad. Though he is best known for his Walking Dead role, where he is flawlessly American in his speaking, he’s been in a lot of British films where his thick, natural British accent is proudly on display.

6. Hugh Laurie


The famous Dr. Gregory House is portrayed by a native-born British actor. Though most of his acting work has been done in America and he now lives there, he was raised in Britain as a child, and his wife and children lived there until they joined him permanently in the USA. His American accent on “House” is simply amazing and most viewers never guess his secret.

7. John Barrowman

MIPTV 2011 Opening Cocktail and Digital Emmy Awards

Currently enjoying a guest role on “Arrow” and previously a star of the “Torchwood” mini-series that aired on Netflix, John Barrowman transitions easily between his native Scottish accent and his adopted American accent.

That’s right. Captain Jack Harkness was born in Scotland, though he was living in the United States by the time he was nine. His family still lives in the USA, and John has gone on to make a name for himself as an American actor in both the USA and the UK. He can still slip back into a Scottish accent with ease, though.

8. Bob Hope


Who knew that America’s best-loved comedian of the 20th century was really British? Born Leslie Townes Hope in London, Hope came to the United States with his parents at the age of 5.

His natural British accent quickly adapted and changed to an American one, and very few people were ever the wiser of his true origins once he became a national star in the United States. It’s still a surprise to most people that this American entertainment icon was actually British.

7 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Brenda Norris July 17, 2014 at 4:49 am - Reply

    Elizabeth Taylor was also English. From London also, I believe.

  2. John Whatmeworry February 8, 2014 at 2:38 pm - Reply

    Most of Hugh Lauries acting work hasn’t been done in America, but the UK. He was popular in Britain for almost two decades before being on House.

  3. Iridium Halo January 26, 2014 at 7:57 am - Reply

    Most of Hugh Laurie’s acting work has been done in America? And what did he do before House?

    • $27422883 May 4, 2014 at 3:05 am - Reply

      Judging Amy tahrs all I can recall

      • mspeedi6 . May 21, 2014 at 9:29 am - Reply

        never seen blackadder???

  4. Clifford Edwards January 20, 2014 at 11:34 pm - Reply

    It never ceases to amaze me how adept British actors are at affecting completely convincing American accents (Jonathan Rhys Meyers sounds as though he’s from Texas on Dracula), and how miserably American actors fail at adopting British ones.

    • Mise Freisin August 6, 2014 at 3:42 pm - Reply

      Jonathan Rhys Meyers is IRISH and NOT British. Born in Dublin!!!

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