Article in partnership with Day Translations.
You may have come across a few viral videos starring actor Timotee Chalamet or Bradley Cooper speaking French. Maybe watching one or two videos was enough for you, but in my case I started going down a rabbit hole searching for celebrities who are multilingual. I have done the homework so you don’t have to.
My research started from this video which is a collection of several celebrity interviews in various languages other than English. While some of the personalities features in these video compilations are native English speakers, others are bilingual from birth or became multilingual after already speaking two languages fluently since childhood.
Celebrities Who Speak French
You can see some US and native English speaking celebrities use French during interviews in Europe, for French television interviews or press conferences with international journalists.
Bradley Cooper, star of films such as The Hangover and Silver Linings Playbook, started learning French as a child and got a university degree in English with French.
Jane Fonda, the Oscar-winning actress from movies such as 9 to 5, Barefoot in the Park and On Golden Pond, speaks French after learning it as an adult.
Celebrities Who Speak Spanish
Spanish is the second most spoken language in the United States, with more than 40 million people who are fluent in it.
It’s no surprise that singer and actress Jennifer Lopez speaks Spanish, as she is of Spanish descent, although she spoke English at home with her family.
Ben Affleck, star of Argo and Good Will Hunting, speaks Spanish after learning it as a teenager while working for a TV programme in Mexico.
Anya Taylor-Joy, of The Queen’s Gambit fame, was raised in Argentina and then moved to the UK, and is a fluent Spanish speaker.
Celebrities with International Backgrounds Who Speak Multiple Languages
Sure, speaking two languages is impressive, but what about celebrities who speak three or more languages?
Lupita Nyong’o, star of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and 12 Years a Slave, speaks the African languages Swahili and Luo, plus Spanish. She grew up in Kenya and Mexico, is of Kenyan descent and started learning Spanish as a child.
Leonardo DiCaprio, star of The Beach and Inception, speaks German and Italian because of his heritage.
Christoph Waltz also speaks German and Italian plus French. He was born in Austria from German descent and started learning English as a teenager when he started working in English-speaking countries. He is famous for films such as Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained.
Danish-American actor Viggo Mortensen, famous from films such as The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and A Dangerous Method, can speak Swedish, Danish, French, Italian, Norwegian and Spanish. He grew up as bilingual English and Spanish living in Argentina, and started learning Danish from family and friends as a teenager.
Jodie Foster, best known from films such as Silence of the Lambs and Panic Room, not only speaks French fluently but also Italian, Spanish and German.
Singer Shakira, of Colombian and Lebanese heritage, speaks Spanish, Arabic, Italian, French and Portuguese. She was born in Colombia and started speaking Spanish as a child.
Finally, a couple of honourable mentions: two celebrities with unusual language skills.
John Cena, former WWE champion and actor famous for roles in The Marine and Trainwreck, speaks Mandarin because he learned it as an adult while trying to become known in China as a wrestler.
Rami Malek, born in the United States from Egyptian parents, starred in the TV series Mr Robot and is well known for his role in Bohemian Rhapsody. He speaks Arabic, which he learned as a child from his family.