Stereotypes of British people
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
It is increasingly commented in the British media that, in recent years, American films have portrayed white British characters as 'baddies', or given English accents to evil characters. A prominent example is that of the Imperial Officers in the Star Wars movies, most of whom had British accents. Such reports often neglect to mention that "goodies" Obi-wan Kenobi and C-3PO also had English accents. The latter character also exemplifies another 'use' for British actors in the American media: that of Butler or Gentleman.
Disney has given a number of villains and undesirable characters English accents. A few examples are Judge Frollo (although the character is French, he is voiced by Tony Jay, a British actor), Jafar, Maleficent, Professor Ratigan, and Lady Tremaine (Cinderella's stepmother). Scar, the megalomaniac lion from The Lion King also has an English accent. Other examples from children's films (not necessarily Disney) are Count Olaf, played by Jim Carrey in an adaption of Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events, and Mrs Trunchbull in Roald Dahl's Matilda.
Characters in movies set in historical periods are often given English accents, even if the story doesn't take place anywhere near Britain. This stems from an American stereotype that the British have a high regard for propriety. In some cases, British men are portrayed as so proper that they are considered prudish. A popular Family Guy sketch portrays a British couple where the man says "You know we could have sexual intercourse right now... but let's not!" Family Guy also features Stewie Griffin, a Rex Harrison derivative, who speaks eloquently and despises most women. This distaste for vulgarity is often connected with homosexuality in American media. One could argue that characters like Henry Higgins, C-3PO, and Stewie Griffin represent a prudish, if not gay stereotyping of British men, but this theory, among many others, is challenged by the popularity of James Bond movies.
Many of the most popular villains in cinema are British, or played by British actors (e.g., Hannibal Lecter; Emperor Palpatine; Hans Gruber etc. It should be noted, however, that none of these characters actually were British; Lecter even had an American accent. Gruber was German, while Palpatine naturally had no Earthly nationality at all.)
British characters in popular cinema are often English upper class, with cut glass accents (Hugh Grant for example). Frequently they are portrayed as being callous bordering on the sociopathic (Greystoke, The Patriot, Gallipoli). Many of the myths that surround the Mutiny On The Bounty, in particular the conduct of Captain Bligh, originated from the various Hollywood films on the subject.