A Guide to American TV’s Stealth Foreigners

Slate's Culture Blog
Nov. 26 2012 3:36 PM

A Guide to American TV’s Stealth Foreigners

Archie Panjabi on The Good Wife(CBS)

While colonialism may have been despicable in every other way, its legacy has been a godsend for American television. The TV schedule features a slew of British, Australian, Irish actors—and at least one Nigerian-Norwegian—many of whom are so good at adopting an American accent that some viewers may be unaware they weren’t born in the United States.

June Thomas June Thomas

June Thomas is a Slate culture critic and editor of Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section. 

That’s why Brow Beat has assembled this handy guide to a few of the stealth foreigners on American TV screens.


Clare Bowen, who plays Scarlett O’Connor on Nashville is Australian.
Gunnar Scott, her songwriting partner, is also played by a foreigner, Brit Sam Palladio. Here’s Bowen showing off her Mississippi accent on the ABC musical-drama:

And here she is in a 2010 episode of Aussie soap Home and Away (skip to 1:04 if you want to avoid the juicy “previously on” action):

Georgia King, Goldie Clemmons on The New Normal, is British.
Here she explains why she’d like to be a surrogate for a gay couple on the NBC comedy:

And here she introduces outtakes from the 2009 movie Tormented:

Jason O’Mara, who plays Deputy Sheriff Jack Lamb on Vegas, is Irish.
Here he is playing the Western lawman on the CBS procedural:

And here’s an interview he did about the show:

Ed Westwick, who plays Chuck Bass on the CW series Gossip Girl, is British.
Here he is as the king of the Upper East Side, delivering his signature phrase:

And telling a British interviewer how he copes with American English:

Archie Panjabi, Kalinda Sharma on The Good Wife, is British.
Here Kalinda tells Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) how she feels about her (hideous) husband:

And here Archie gets giddy in an interview:

Of course, some British actors get to use their “real” accents on U.S. television.

Lucy Punch plays a dissolute Brit on Fox’s Ben and Kate.

But she did an American accent in the movie Bad Teacher:

Jonny Lee Miller gets to play Sherlock Holmes as a Brit in Elementary.

And judging from his American accent in Eli Stone, that’s probably just as well:


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