Don Cheadle cleverly reacts to the Ocean’s trilogy fan theory that his cockney accent was a fake, saying he retroactively embraces the idea.
Over 20 years after first seeing some pushback for the voice, Don Cheadle is cleverly reacting to the Ocean’s trilogy theory regarding his character’s accent. Steven Soderbergh’s heist movie series acted as a remake of the Frank Sinatra-led ’60s film, centered on an ensemble group of thieves who came together for increasingly complex and valuable heists. Comprised of a large ensemble cast including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, Cheadle, Scott Caan and Casey Affleck, among others, the Ocean’s trilogy scored largely favorable reviews throughout its run and was a box office success, grossing a combined $1 billion across all three films.
While speaking with The Guardian to discuss Noah Baumbach’s adaptation of White Noise, Cheadle reflected on his time in the Ocean’s trilogy. When asked specifically about his widely criticized cockney accent, the Basher actor debunked the notion that Steven Soderbergh forced the voice on him, and offered a clever reaction to the theory it wasn’t a real accent at all. See what Cheadle said below:
I appreciate that [you ask]. It’s not just your job. Your countrymen would demand it. No [Soderbergh didn't demand it]. Steven said: ‘You don’t have to do it.’ I said: ‘Well, that’s how you wrote him. I’ll try it.’ Now I can say ‘he was an American doing a British accent – you guys missed that?’
Cheadle starred in the Ocean’s trilogy as Basher, the group’s munitions expert more in it for the thrills than for the money, as his teammates. The theory that Cheadle’s character in the heist films is actually an American using a faux British accent is actually one that largely makes sense for a variety of reasons, more than just for its terrible nature. Considering all but Qin Shaobo’s The Amazing Yen are all American characters, and don’t require Clooney’s Danny or Pitt’s Rusty to head overseas to recruit the demolition man for their various heists.
While it could be argued that Cheadle’s Basher was simply a former British citizen now living in the United States, his being an American with a faux cockney accent also seems more believable if looking at his appearances across the Ocean’s trilogy. The character’s backstory is only minimally explored, leaving the door open for interpretations such as the popular fake accent theory, while Ocean’s Thirteen even saw Cheadle get to utilize his natural American accent as he pretended to be an Evil Knievel-type character in order to briefly distract Al Pacino’s villain. Given the con man nature of everything Danny’s group does in the Ocean’s trilogy, it wouldn’t be too far out of the realm of possibility for Cheadle’s character to put up an extra façade in order to avoid capture.
While Cheadle may be leaning into the idea, it will be interesting to see if Margot Robbie’s Ocean’s Eleven prequel in the works will explore the fake accent theory for Basher. Though it would seem more likely for the film to set up Clooney’s character and his family in the franchise, as the Sandra Bullock-led Ocean’s 8 did, it could be a charming nod to Sammy Davis Jr.’s role in the original film to have a character linked to Cheadle’s in Robbie’s group. As audiences await updates on the project, they can revisit the second and third installments in Soderbergh’s Ocean’s trilogy streaming on Netflix now.