When it comes to mastering an accent for a major motion picture, few are as tricky as the Cockney.
Charlie Hunnam, Don Cheadle, Colin Farrell and, most famously, Dick van Dyke have all tried and failed, miserably, to perfect the vocal tones of a London wheeler-dealer.
But despite their infamous statuses these actors are not the perpetrators of cinema’s worst attempt at a Cockney accent. That honour, instead, goes to none other than Al Pacino, who earned this most unwanted for honours for his work in a film most people probably have never even seen.
It all dates back to 1990, and a 56-minute adaptation of the Heathcote Williams play The Local Stigmatic. Pacino plays Graham, a London-based wheeler dealer who spends much of his time down at the local greyhound track and also looks like the leader singer in a terrible Beatles tribute band
Also starring Paul Guilfoyle of CSI fame, the film has slipped under the radar in the years since its release and with good reason too. Pacino’s Cockney accent is positively toe-curling. It’s the worst thing you’ll ever hear in your entire life. There are death rattles that sound less jarring.
Big Al sets his stall out early too, delivering a monologue at the start of the film that surely had people turning off in their droves. Not only does the speech most focus on the subject of dogs, or “daawwwwrrrrgs” as Pacino’s Graham calls them, but it’s all over the place, sounding both cockney and American all at once.
How is it possible that the an actor famous for winning an Oscar, a Tony and an Emmy is also guilty of the worst accent ever put to film? Ultimately, Pacino got lucky with this one. Within two years, he had finally bagged his first Academy Award, for his shouty efforts in A Scent Of A Woman.
Unfortunately, that film introduced a new era of Pacino to the public: an era where he essentially shouted his way through each and every role. Maybe he was just venting his frustrations at starring in The Local Stigmatic all those years ago. Then again, maybe he just got tired of doing anything else.