Accent Expert Dishes on MCU Star Don Cheadle’s Performance in ‘Ocean’s 13’

Today, Don Cheadle is well known for portraying War Machine/ James Rhodes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Though the character has yet to receive a standalone installment, he has proved integral to the team in Avengers mash-ups, and he has appeared in the solo Iron Man movies. Cheadle replaced Terrence Howard who played the part in the 2008 Iron Man. 

Don Cheadle MCU star
Don Cheadle | Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Though Cheadle’s presence in the MCU is substantial, the actor boasts multiple renowned performances outside of the Marvel filmscape. Don Cheadle has starred in Hotel Rwanda (which earned him an Oscar nomination), The Rat Pack, Crash, Traitor, and more. While often receiving critical acclaim for his performances, Cheadle’s turn in Ocean’s 13 could have used a little improvement, especially in the accent department, according to an expert on the subject matter. 

Accent expert Amy Walker breaks down Don Cheadle’s accent in ‘Ocean’s 13’ 

Ocean’s 13 followed Danny Ocean (George Clooney) — and his group of criminal masterminds  — as they hatched an ambitious plot for revenge. The plan: get back at the ruthless casino owner (Al Pacino), who double-crossed Ocean’s friend and mentor. 

Don Cheadle reprised his role as Basher Tarr in the sequel. Don Cheadle tries a cockney accent on for size in the film. During a segment for Vanity Fair, accent expert and actress Amy Walker shared a review regarding his take on it: 

Don Cheadle’s a wonderful actor, but this is a bit of a mess… The resonance for this accent is really down in the gutter, it’s down in the mouth…when you say “ultrasonic” that’s going to have more of a “w” to it, than an “l,” and it’s going to be forward in the mouth. 

Vanity Fair

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Walker goes onto explain that actors will often overdo certain aspects of the accent, particularly the “glottal catch” or “glottal stop,” which is a specific consonant sound achieved by obstructing airflow in the vocal tract. While Don Cheadle is an incredible performer, his cockney accent leaves much to be desired, according to Amy Walker. 

Amy Walker on actors who nailed various British accents

When discussing Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, Walker is all praise. Should we be surprised? Walker explains:

Margaret Thatcher had a lot of flack in the beginning of her political career about “the lady doth screech too much,” so the way that she’ll “that,” really screech it a bit…it’s absolutely dead-on. 

Vanity Fair

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Yet, Meryl Streep isn’t the only one who perfected accents for roles. Amy Walker even praised Lindsay Lohan’s performance in The Parent Trap.

Walker notes that Lohan’s accent is “quite good,” and notes that “she’s got the melody right.” Given Lohan’s age in this film  — and the need to switch between the American and the British accent — her performance is quite impressive. Capturing an accent — without overdoing it or forgetting to maintain it during dramatic scenes — is not easy…even for actors with much more experience than Lohan had at the time.