- The Washington Times - Friday, November 20, 2009


Is there something inherently evil about an English accent?

The British ambassador doesn’t think so, but he is seeing what he calls a “cinematic trend” in Hollywood where the latest, chic vampire movies feature English actors.

Rather than complain about the typecasting, Ambassador Nigel Sheinwald welcomes the exposure for young, talented British actors and expects the trend to continue.

“It seems an immutable law of Hollywood that the finest baddies in American film are always played by Brits. I’m not sure exactly why - there is nothing inherently menacing, I think, about an English accent,” he wrote on his blog at https://blogs.fco. gov.uk/roller/sheinwald.

He was inspired to muse on the fame of British bloodsuckers with the release of the second installment of the vampire saga, “Twilight.” British actor Robert Pattinson plays the young vampire, Edward Cullen, in his star-crossed romance with Bella Swan, played by American actress Kristen Stewart.

“This spectacular teen drama … has attracted, in some circles, as much attention as the current health care debate (although being undead would still presumably be classed as a pre-existing condition?),” Mr. Sheinwald quipped.

He also noted that another English actor, Stephen Moyer, has “proved a tremendous hit” as vampire Bill Compton in the HBO series, “True Blood.”

British actors have a long history of portraying Dracula, who, according to legend, was Romanian. Nevertheless, the English accent stuck, like the cape, the bat and a stake through the heart. Christopher Lee played the vampire count, popularized by the Irish novelist Bram Stoker in 1897, in several films in the 1950s and Gary Oldman continued the tradition, playing Dracula in a 1992 film.

Mr. Sheinwald wondered whether this was really just a coincidence or something more “cryptic.”

“Could it be the British climate creates the pale and pasty complexion necessary to portray authentically Bram Stoker’s monster?” he asked. “Or is it our ‘deadpan’ humor, putting the grave in graveyard, that makes us British especially suited to vampire kitsch?”

Mr. Sheinwald concluded with confidence that British actors will continue to enjoy stardom in Hollywood.

“The ‘stakes’ may be high,” he said, “but you my most definitely ‘count’ on it!”


After only 18 months in office, the prime minister of Belgium was elected the first president of the European Union on Thursday in a move European diplomats hope will boost the global profile of the 27-nation alliance.

Herman Van Rompuy was budget minister under a center-right Christian Democrat government during the 1990s. As prime minister, he is credited with helping steer Belgium through the worldwide budget crisis and calming linguistic disputes between the French- and Flemish-speaking communities.

European leaders also selected Britain’s Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s trade commissioner, to fill the post of foreign affairs representative, succeeding Javier Solana of Spain.

The European Union’s new treaty, which expanded the powers of the central authorities, created the presidency but left its duties undefined. The foreign policy minister, however, will have some influence over the expenditure of more than $10 billion in foreign aid spending.

Britain locked up the foreign policy position after dropping its campaign for former Prime Minister Tony Blair to serve as EU president, according to news reports from Brussels.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@ washingtontimes.com.

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