A couple of interesting articles on why Hollywood loves a British villain: Why So Many Movie Villains Have British Accents By Cari Romm If you’ve seen pretty much any movie ever, you may have noticed the film industry’s weird tendency to drop British-accented bad guys into settings where, mysteriously, no one else seems to be British. It’s a convention that cuts across genre: the evil king from Disney’s Robin Hood, Liam Neeson in Batman Begins, Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs, Darth Vader — all sounded vaguely British, if not outrightly so. Elizabeth Hurley was the only one with a British accent in that movie Bedazzled, and she played the literal devil. The reason, as linguist Chi Luu recently explained in JSTOR Daily, is that the accent lends itself well to the particular qualities that make for a compelling movie villain, a cocktail of traits more nuanced than just “pure evil.” Research has shown that speaking in the received pronunciation accent — the “posh” iteration of the British accent, also known as the Queen’s English — makes people appear “more educated, intelligent, competent, physically attractive, and generally of a higher socioeconomic class.” In one study, for example, a researcher delivered the exact same lecture in two different accents, receiving more positive reviews when he did it in received pronunciation. On the other hand, though, RP speakers are also generally considered “less trustworthy, kind, sincere, and friendly than speakers of non-RP accents.” And when you put the two together, you get someone with a fierce intellect and low morals — the perfect combo for a fictional bad guy. But there’s something else at play, too, Chuu noted: There’s a concept called “standard language ideology,” the belief that there’s one ideal form of a language and then various accented offshoots: Speakers of the standard form are considered the ones that “have no accent” and any dialect that strays from from that is stigmatized in one way or another. Believing in this concept legitimizes the institutional discrimination of those who don’t use or didn’t grow up with the standard language. The reality is of course that everyone has an accent. But plenty of people in the U.S. think of the American accent as no accent at all. Giving a movie villain the inflection of another place, then, helps to cast them as some standard deviation away from the norm — an outsider, and a threatening one at that. In other words, we give our villains accents because we don’t want them to sound like us; for proof, look no further than the “Evil Brit” entry on TV tropes. And here it is: Evil Brit He uses mind control to take over the city, invades it with British pop culture, and makes everyone say "biscuits" instead of "cookies". Ben Kingsley: Have you ever noticed how, in Hollywood movies, all the villains are played by Brits? Mark Strong: Maybe we just sound right. Tom Hiddleston: (flying in a helicopter without spilling a drop of his tea)We're more focused... more precise. Strong: We're always one step ahead. Kingsley: With a certain style; an eye for detail. Hiddleston: And we're obsessed by power! A stiff upper lip is key. Strong: And we all drive Jaguars. Kingsley: Ohhh yes. It's good to be bad. — Jaguar 2014 Super Bowl commercial: "British Villains" Any character with a British accent, particularly in upper class Received Pronunciation (far and away the most common type you'll hear in American media) is likely to turn out to be a villain. The English tend to view this trope in one of three ways, depending on the particular depiction. Either: with a sense of pride (Evil Is Sexy / Evil Is Cool / Evil Is Posh after all!), mild eye-rolling amusement (tsk, Americans) OR annoyance at the apparent national stereotyping. This includes all evil characters with British accents (where the rest of the cast has accents), whether or not they are actually stated to be British. Quite a few of these are not actual Brits, but have anomalous quasi-British (usually vaguely upper-class and English, as noted above) accents in settings where almost everyone else has some sort of American accent and no one is necessarily supposed to be from either country, just to mark that character as villainous. As you might expect, this version appears to be associated with films and shows in which the use of English is (at least weakly implied to be) a Translation Convention for whatever the characters are "really" saying, although it's not exclusive to them. See The Queen's Latin and Aliens of London. Villains of this type come in two flavours. The first is usually wealthy and snobbish, and probably quite well educated. The second is the hooligan with the Cockney (or similar) accent. This is fairly recent since during Hollywood's Golden Age it was acceptable for the good guys to speak with an upper-class English accent as well. Probably related to The Mean Brit, although it appeared well before The Mean Brit trend began. The Romans, who generally are the baddies in most historical films, are almost always played by English actors. The British also are often the imperial bad guys in Hong Kong kung-fu flicks. World War II films using the Translation Convention usually have Those Wacky Nazis played by Brits as well. Surprisingly, they are quite rare in Irish films. In Hollywood at least, this may be a product of different acting traditions. Simplifying wildly, Americans go into movie acting to be rich, famous, and loved by the audience; Brits go into acting because they like acting, and some who do well at it then go to Hollywood for the money. With, on average, more training, more experience, less need to be loved, and a cheerful interest in any well-paying gig, they can often make excellent charismatic villains. Of course, it seems that there are also people in Hollywood with a cultural aversion to Britain who are all too happy to cast them in these parts. Given the way in which American fans often respond to British accents, fandoms sometimes turn this sort of character into Draco in Leather Pants. Contrast British Stuffiness, which may be applied to a nominally heroic character who must nevertheless Die for Our Ship. Doesn't really apply in British works, of course. In those, this role is often given to the French, Germans or (rarely, especially nowadays) Americans. So, do Brits make the best villains?? Got a favourite evil Brit??