Maybe to some of you this might sound weird coming from an American, but in the course of conversations with Jack Yan I mentioned that some actors coming from outside the U.S. sound really strange when they use a General American accent. "General American", by definition, does not have regional inflections in tone, so I laugh when international audiences say it sounds plain. That's because it is!
It's supposed to have origins in a certain section of the Midwest that includes parts of Iowa and South Dakota. It migrated westward to the West Coast, including California and the Pacific Northwest (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and parts of Montana) but plenty of Midwesterns say I talk funny. Whatever. They're influenced by the Inland North dialect, which occasionally pops up on American television.
Anyways, a few celebrities in particular I've mentioned that sound strained using General American, and some I've thought of recently:
Lucy Lawless. Of course, the first instance of her using was for Xena: Warrior Princess. She uses a strange sultry tone that sounds like it belongs in the bedroom. Funny, there was an Adam Sandler movie I saw recently– Bedtime Stories, I think it was, where it fit a little better. But it sounds so… unnatural. I look forward to seeing those parts where she's allowed to use her native Kiwi accent, and not something that sounds contrived and unnatural.
Christian Bale. He's a very focused and dedicated actor, but he still seems strained using a General American accent. I haven't seen any roles yet where his Welch accent is allowed to be unrestrainted– it's all interviews, publicity, etc.
Liam Neeson. This should have been a "duh", really, but I recently realized that the reason why his voice sounded peculiar to me was that his General American is just a very clipped Irish brogue. I'm not familiar with much of his work before Darkman so if anyone has a clip of him where that brogue is unrestrained, I'd appreciate it.
There are probably others, but these actors just stand out in particular to me.