Top 5 actors with odd speech patterns

Top 5 actors with odd speech patterns

Not all actors read a line the same way.

There’s a big difference between Keanu Reeves’ emoting and, say, Dustin Hoffman’s way with words.

But then there are other actors who make reading a simple line of script an adventure. We all know who they are, and even when they appear in absolute dreck it’s grand fun waiting for them to spit out the next syllable.

So let’s toast five actors who bring something novel to the big screen with every choice phrase.

  • Christopher Walken: The King, no question asked. You can go grab popcorn and a soda between some of his pregnant pauses. At this point, he’s a caricature of himself, but that only makes it better.
  • Jeff Goldblum: The actor makes a welcome screen appearance in “The Switch,” but we’ve seen far too little of the mercurial Goldblum in recent years. Consider his wacky line readings in “Jurassic Park” the Red Bull that keeps you awake between dinosaur kills.
  • William Shatner: Yes, he’s more of a TV actor now … and then. But for a while his big screen”Star Trek” work gave us the chance … to hear … him in … action. Priceless.
  • Jack Nicholson: No one reads a line like Jack. Period. After he’s done with it, it isn’t worth trying to improve upon.
  • Readers’ Choice: Who is missing from this list?
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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike BNo Gravatar August 26, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Fran Drescher

Mike BNo Gravatar August 26, 2010 at 2:22 pm

btw, I only mention her (and her incredibly annoying nasal voice and laugh) because she has done a crap motio0n picture here and there.

cftotoNo Gravatar August 26, 2010 at 2:28 pm

She’s a good choice … I didn’t think of many actresses who fit this bill … but I’m hoping this site’s Watchers will set me straight.

ShaneNo Gravatar August 26, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Going old school here, but I always thought Cary Grant read his lines in a really cool voice. Audrey Hepburn as well. They are both in the movie Charade, check it out if you haven’t seen it.

cftotoNo Gravatar August 26, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Too often I think ‘modern’ when I tally up these lists, Shane, and Cah-ry Gra-hant is a perfect choice here.

kbielNo Gravatar August 26, 2010 at 4:29 pm

How about Ricardo Montalban? I have never heard anyone deliver lines like he does.

LibbyNo Gravatar August 26, 2010 at 4:43 pm

Zooey Deschanel has a distinctive delivery.

PaulaNo Gravatar August 26, 2010 at 5:53 pm

Katherine Hepburn certainly had a distinctive speech pattern, a bit irritating at times.

blackhawk12151No Gravatar August 26, 2010 at 6:12 pm

Philip Seymour Hoffman has a strange, mumbly delivery.

ShaneNo Gravatar August 26, 2010 at 7:40 pm

I was thinking Joe Pesci would be a good fit on this list too.

EPorvaznikNo Gravatar August 26, 2010 at 8:42 pm

Vince Vaughn’s staccato deliveries.

DagnabbittNo Gravatar August 26, 2010 at 9:07 pm

Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis, Amanda Plummer, Jennifer Tilly, Joan Cusack

EPorvaznikNo Gravatar August 26, 2010 at 9:34 pm

Ooooh, Amanda Plumber — good one!

LarkNo Gravatar August 26, 2010 at 11:17 pm

Maybe it’s just the voice, but my vote goes to Colleen Dewhurst.

JimmyCNo Gravatar August 26, 2010 at 11:23 pm

John Wayne
Benicio del Toro and Jaime Foxx (aka “The Mumblers”)
Al Pacino

JimmyCNo Gravatar August 26, 2010 at 11:24 pm

Oh, and Nicholas Cage, whose vocal patterns were hilariously mocked by Timothy Olyphant in A Perfect Getaway.

EPorvaznikNo Gravatar August 26, 2010 at 11:58 pm

Or Nic Cage mocking Travolta’s in Face/Off.

fozzyNo Gravatar August 27, 2010 at 3:15 am

Holly Hunter, I like the lisp.
William Hurt, hurry up! Finish the damn sentence!

di butlerNo Gravatar August 27, 2010 at 8:05 pm

Holly Hunter doesn’t have a lisp! That’s just her Georgia drawl.

I go for Nic Cage, too. Loved his Big Daddy lines in Kick Ass. And Face Off. That was a hoot.

Hated the sound of Hepburn’s voice. Like nails on a chalkboard.
John Wayne, maybe?

Walken will always be the top in my book, though.

DedeNo Gravatar August 28, 2010 at 3:08 pm

Keifer Sutherland
and the way he delivers lines with a sort of slurry/whispery urgency…

boqueronmanNo Gravatar August 28, 2010 at 8:02 pm

I’m surprised no one has mentioned James Earl Jones. I defy someone to type into Google Search any other actor’s name and have a list of sub-category options pop up that includes “james earl jones voice.”

Steve OatneyNo Gravatar August 30, 2010 at 6:41 pm

WOW! Great post and awesome comments, all! What a great topic! Every actor has their own special way of speaking, but some are just so wonderfully unique that they make our ears perk up and take special notice. I cannot think of a single actor, not already mentioned, to add to the list, but I must say I could listen to Christopher Walken read the phonebook, and I’d be riveted.

JeffbNo Gravatar September 3, 2010 at 1:49 am

The golden age of distinctive Hollywood voices is long past. Rich Little said that it was harder to imitate the newer actors than the old ones.

Besides the good examples above, we had Jimmy Stewart, Bette Davis, Marx Brothers, Three Stooges, heck, all of the comedians comedy teams come to think about it, Edgar G. Robinson, Yul Brynner, Victor McLaughlin, Jack Palance, John Barrymore Sr. Spencer Tracy, Clark gable and Orson Welles. One could hear these voices and easily guess who they were. I am not sure I could do that with Robert Redford, Will Ferrel George Clooney or Matt Damon.

I am not sure why that changed, distinctive voices are not considered to be realistic?

TinaNo Gravatar March 18, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Di Butler said that Holly Hunter did not have a lisp, but as a Speech Pathologist I detected the classic lateral lisp pattern straight away. The slushy s sound is produced by letting air come out of the sides of the mouth rather than over the top of the tongue and more central – between the top or lower incisors. I just don’t like misinformation.

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