People's Party

Don Cheadle Approves Of The Internet Theory About His ‘Ocean’s 11’ Accent

When Ocean’s 11 came out in 2001, it was the absolute epitome of cool. A bunch of non-violent buddies in slick suits robbing a casino with nothing but cleverness and a few gadgets while bantering their asses off? Who wouldn’t want to hang with that crew?

By all reports, the shoot itself was every bit as fun as the movie — a rare bit of alchemy (executed with tons of style) by the great Steven Soderbergh. Well… fun for everyone but Don Cheadle.

“I’m in the trailer with a speech coach going over vowels and consonants,” he joked on the latest episode of People’s Party with Talib Kweli. “And they’re all outside playing basketball and poker and shit.”

But Cheadle, one of the most respected actors on the planet, may not have spent quite enough time with that vocal coach. His accent as Basher, the gang’s explosives expert, was widely mocked and often ends up on lists of worst movie accents. Which actually made things a little dicey when then actor went to the BAFTAs in London.

“From street to street someone would come up and say ‘love that character, mate, it’s great,'” he says, laughing. “And the next street someone would come up and say, ‘don’t ever do that again!’ Someone did a u-turn to come drive by me and cuss me out for the part.”

Offering the easy out, Kweli asks Cheadle if there’s any truth the theory — mentioned in early reviews and message boards — that the character of Basher is actually just an American who fancies Cockney culture (Snatch came out just a year earlier, in 2000, and was a smash) and the accent is a put on. Part of his criminal persona, so to speak.

“Sure! Let’s go with that!” Cheadle says. “I get a little cover with that. Now I can say that, ‘he was an American, doing a British accent — you guys missed that?'”

Finally, an internet theory that bears fruit. Basher is officially a bloody yank.

The entire episode is full of insight on Cheadle’s career — from his long partnership with Soderbergh to working with gang members in Colors to his directorial debut, Miles Ahead. Check it out!