BEVERLY HILLS,CA - MARCH 19:  Actor Richard Harris attends the 63rd Annual Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon on March 19, 1991 at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California.  (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
Movies - TV
Richard Harris Brought A Dark Chapter Of British History To His Unforgiven Performance
Audiences might think that the late actor Richard Harris was an Englishman because he had the accent and his roles ranged from King Arthur to Dumbledore — but they’d be wrong. The actor was Irish, born and raised in the city of Limerick, but he used his faux-Britishness when he starred in "Unforgiven" as arrogant, jingoistic gunslinger English Bob.
When interviewed during the film's original run, Harris said he understood the character of English Bob because he knew "that type of Englishman, because they festooned my nation, like for five or six hundred years." Specifically, he talked about the brutal Black and Tans who were recruited from the British population to fight in the Irish War of Independence in 1920.
Harris, who didn't have many kind thoughts on British expats, drew on this for his performance as English Bob. Harris felt that a man like Bob wouldn't be a real English aristocrat but a "spiv," with pretensions of blue blood. When he's disarmed, beaten, and sent out of town by Sheriff Little Bill Daggett, Bob drops every trace of poshness from his accent.