As someone who grew up in a bilingual household, I know the importance of learning different languages. In addition to being able to communicate with different people, you open yourself up to opportunities, and you change how you see the world (in addition to sometimes being able to gossip without anyone knowing what you’re saying, of course).
And, as it turns out, many stars are just like me and grew up speaking more than one language as well. Ben Affleck, for example, goes viral every once in a while when an interview of him speaking Spanish finds itself on social media. The Air actor and director, who moved to Mexico for a year when he was just 13 years old, speaks so well in the language it’s close to fluent. And, knowing his wife Jennifer Lopez is Puerto Rican, we’re left wondering what language that family speaks at home. Maybe a mix of both?
Other stars, like Sandra Bullock, Mila Kunis and Rita Ora, grew up with other languages besides English in their homes since they were born. Did someone say two first languages? We sure think so!
Check out some of our favorite multi-lingual celebs below!
Much like his father King Charles III, Prince Harry also speaks German surprisingly well. Most recently, the royal surprised a crowd at the Invictus Games kickoff reception in Germany by speaking their native language. “Guten abend, meine damen und herren,” the Duke of Sussex said, per People, which translates to “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.”
Making it one more thing he and his wife Jennifer Lopez have in common, Ben Affleck also speaks Spanish fluently. According to the Air director, when he was 13, he moved to Mexico with his family for a year to shoot a television series. During his time there, teenage Affleck picked up the language very quickly, per StyleCaster.
Though we can make a calculated guess from his name, Timothée Chalamet does indeed speak French. In fact, the Bones and All star’s dad is French and taught him the language from a very young age. He also spent many summers in the country when he visited his grandparents.
Euphoria star Barbie Ferreira may have been born in the U.S., but her entire family is from Minas Gerais, Brazil. “I speak Portuguese!” the actress said proudly in a recent feature with Vogue Brazil, adding that she grew up surrounded by Brazilian food and traditions in Astoria, Queens.
Catching fans by surprise, The Menu star Anya Taylor-Joy’s first language is actually Spanish! “Now that you’re hearing my accent, you may be surprised to know I was born in Miami, raised between Argentina and London, and my first language is Spanish,” Taylor-Joy explained in her monologue on Saturday Night Live.
Much like Taylor-Joy, Gilmore Girls alum Alexis Bledel also has Spanish as her first language. “My father was born in Argentina, in Buenos Aires, and my mom was based in Mexico, in Guadalajara,” she explained in an episode of Back Home. According to the star, who was born in Texas, Latinx culture was a part of her everyday life growing up.
Luckiest Girl Alive star Mila Kunis, who was born in Ukraine, speaks Russian fluently. Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Kunis and her husband Ashton Kutcher raised over £13m to aid victims of the conflict, per Independent.
A Star Is Born star Bradley Cooper speaks French so well, his interviews in the language have even gone viral in the past. According to the actor, he learned the language while studying in Aix-en-Provence for six months.
Oscar-winner Natalie Portman is a woman of many talents, including speaking over five different languages. Born in Isreal, Portman is fluent in Hebrew and also speaks French, Japanese, German, and Spanish.
Speaking of multi-lingual stars, Viggo Mortensen is also fluent in a few languages. The actor was born in the U.S. and grew up in Argentina speaking mixture of Spanish, English and Danish because he has a Danish father, per LingoPie. In his career, Mortensen has also learned French and Arabic (and Elvish, if that counts). “You only can improve if you’re challenged,” he told the Associated Press of his polyglot status. “You either learn or you fail.”
Riverdale star Camila Mendes grew up in the U.S., but her whole family is proudly Brazilian. “I’m a full-blooded Brazilian, with an entire extended family of Brazilians, but I was born and raised in the U.S.,” she told People. “When I go to Brazil, I feel like an American, and in the U.S., I always notice the traits that make me Brazilian.”
“I connect with my culture through my family,” she added. “I speak Portuguese to my parents so that I can practice.”
If you’ve ever seen Love, Actually, you know Colin Firth’s character learned some Portuguese to impress his love interest. In real life, Firth did the same thing, only in Italian. In fact, Firth learned the language to impress his ex-wife Livia Giuggioli and former in-laws. “Her English is better than my Italian will ever be,” the actor said, per Simple Italy. “But if you’re going to live your life with someone you should, as a mark of respect, try to learn their way of conceptualizing things.”
Though this may surprise many fans, Oscar-winner Charlize Theron’s first language is not English and is, in fact, Afrikaans. “It’s definitely a dying language, it’s not a very helpful language,” Theron said in an episode of the Smartless podcast, per CNN.
In addition to being an Oscar-winning actor, Leonardo DiCaprio also knows a thing or two about languages. In fact, DiCaprio’s parents are of German descent so German is the actor’s second language. Who knew!
Jodie Foster is among the many francophone celebrities having learned French at a young age while studying Lycée Français de Los Angeles. She has since shown off her bilingual skills on the big screen and during award shows.
When Rita Ora was just one year old, her family fled from their native country of Kosovo to the U.K. As a result, the singer is fluent in both English and Albanian. “There are almost no words to express how proud I am of my heritage,” she told Stylist.
According to Bustle, Thor star Tom Hiddleston is a master of multiple languages. Per the outlet, Hiddleston speaks French, Italian, Spanish and Greek in addition to some knowledge of Russian, Latin, German, Korean, and Mandarin Chinese. Talk about talent!
Born in Canada in a Korean family, Turning Red star Sandra Oh learned Korean and French since a very young age.
Sandra Bullock also grew up in a multi-lingual household in the U.S. because her mom, Helga Meyer, was German. Bullock is impressively fluent in English and German.
As anyone can tell from the ñ in her last name, Avatar star Zoe Saldaña is of Latinx descent. In fact, her father was Dominican while her mother was from Puerto Rico. Growing up in New York, she spoke both Spanish and English as her first languages.
Though her family had no connection to the Spanish language, actress and entrepreneur Gwyneth Paltrow quickly dedicated herself to learning it at an early age. In addition to studying Spanish in high school, she went on to perfect it even more while studying abroad as an exchange student at 15 years old.
Born in Mexico, actress Lupita Nyong’o has Spanish as her first language. In her latest movie, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Nyong’o got to show off some of those language skills in a scene. “It was just a straight gift,” she told Entertainment Weekly. “And I was very, very happy to do it… I’ve always wanted to work in Spanish and never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that that opportunity would come in Black Panther.”
In 2017, John Cena opened up about putting in the work to be fluent in Mandarin. “I’ve been studying Mandarin for five years and I still speak like a third grader,” he told The Straits Times. According to the star, he “started wanting to learn Mandarin to get [WWE] to be a true global company”, but then became “fascinated with the language and has become obsessed with trying to learn it”.
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