Some say that knowing a second (or third) language is like having a superpower. Suddenly, you have the ability to interact with millions of more people from different cultures and backgrounds. Of course, if you were raised bilingual then you have always known about these benefits.
For some of us, we’ve learned new languages later in life.
These celebrities are shining examples of people who have either learned a new language or have maintained their multiculturalism. Did you know they could speak these languages?
Mila Kunis Learned From TV
You might recognize Mila Kunis for her work on That ‘70s Show and Family Guy. Recently, the Ukrainian actress has made appearances in bigger Hollywood movies such as Ted and The Spy Who Dumped Me.
Well, it might surprise you to know that Kunis actually didn’t know any English until she was seven years old. She moved to the United States without knowing the local language and learned it from watching TV after school. Today, she is bilingual and still speaks Ukrainian to her family.
Gwyneth Paltrow Is Raising Bilingual Children
Of course, the best way to learn multiple languages is to learn at a young age when our minds are better at processing new information. Actress Gwyneth Paltrow seems to understand the importance of starting early and is teaching her children Spanish from birth.
She herself is fluent in the language and so she talks to her children in both languages. Apple and Moses will likely be bilingual like her mother – something to come in handy across the United States.
Jodie Foster Loves French
You’ll most likely know Jodie Foster for her performance in The Silence of the Lambs. There, she spoke only in English but that’s not all she knows! It turns out the actress spent many years at a French-speaking prep school that helped her improve new language skills.
In fact, she’s so good at French that Foster has actually appeared in French-language films. Interestingly, she is one of the few actors in Hollywood that dubs her own films when they are translated.
Natalie Portman Has The Best Words
We’ve previously written about Natalie Portman’s impressive resume of acting and education. The Oscar-winning Harvard grad grew up in Israel and spoke English and Hebrew fluently fro a young age.
Since moving to the United States, Portman taught herself Spanish, German, and Japanese. That’s five languages that Natalie Portman knows fluently, which is pretty impressive. Who knows, we might see Portman expand her portfolio into more foreign films in the future.
Colin Firth Learned Italian For Love
British heartthrob learned a whole new language for love. No, not for the love of syntax but for the love of his life – his wife! When the actor started dating film producer Livia Giuggioli, they couldn’t properly communicate – but that didn’t stop the sparks from flying.
Over time, Firth learned Italian and now claims to be fluent enough to star in an Italian role. How romantic! Would you learn a new language to woo a partner?
Penelope Cruz’s Impressive Trio
It’s no surprise that Penelope Cruz knows at least two languages. The Spanish starlet has appeared in Hollywood films speaking both English and her native Spanish. In fact, Cruz says she didn’t learn English until she decided to move to the US for more acting opportunities.
As well as the expected English and Spanish, Cruz is also learning Italian, which means she’s almost fluent in three languages. Let’s see if we will see her acting in any Italian roles in the future.
Christoph Waltz And His European Collection
Actor Christoph Waltz may have jumped into America’s attention span in the 2009 film Inglorious Basterds, but the German-Austrian actor has been performing for many years. While his English has a slight European accent to it, we can understand why.
It turns out the actor knows German, English, Italian, and French – making him the perfect actor to play a Nazi. Ever since that breakout role to America’s audience, Waltz has appeared in films like Django Unchained and Spectre.
Kobe Bryant Speak Fluent Italian
Even though he’s from Philadelphia (born and raised), the famous basketball player spent nearly eight years of his life in Italy. His father, Joe Bryant, took the family across the Atlantic in 1974 – but that didn’t detract Kobe from his dream.
After eight years of playing basketball in Italy, Kobe returned to the US with a brand new language under his belt. He continued his NBA success, as we all know, and still speaks the language today.
Leonardo DiCaprio Has A Second Language
Leo started acting in Hollywood at the age of five and has proven to be one of its talented assets. Even though he may look and sound all-American, the actor comes from German and Italian-German descent from both his parents.
With a name like Leonardo DiCaprio, are you surprised? Growing up, Leo spoke only in German at his home to his parents, making him perfectly fluent in both dialects. Would you like to see him perform in German?
Arnold Schwarzenegger Speaks Austrian. Obviously.
The actor and former Governor moved to America from Austria at the young age of 21. Amazingly, he didn’t speak a word of English at the time. Schwarzenegger had moved after a successful early career as a bodybuilder.
Eventually, he graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Superior and gained full American citizenship. Today, the terminator can speak English, German and his native Austrian. Apparently, he is not allowed to dub his own films in German because his Austrian accent is still too strong!
Ben Affleck Learned Spanish In Mexico
Ben and his brother, Casey, are the two Boston-brothers who have captivated Hollywood for 20 years. It turns out that they’re not only talented filmmakers, but they have a talent for languages, too!
The brothers spent a year in Mexico when they were teenagers and both picked up fluent Spanish. Apparently, Ben doesn’t consider himself ‘fluent’ anymore, but can still maintain conversations. Every so often, he promotes his films in Spanish when the occasion calls for it.
Rita Ora Stays True To Her European Roots
Many will recognize Rita Ora as the British pop star who appears in the charts and on talent shows opposite Simon Cowell. It turns out that the singer is incredibly proud of her heritage. Ora wasn’t born in Britain but actually in Yugoslavia (now known as Kosovo).
She moved to London as a young baby but her parents still spoke to her in English and Albanian, which means she is fluent in both of them. Will we hear her release any Albanian music in the future?
Tom Hiddleston’s MARVELous Language Skills
He may have risen to fame as Marvel’s most popular villain, but Tom Hiddleston is no alien. In fact, the Loki star has a lot more connection to different languages on Earth than in space. Tom Hiddleston claims to speak 10 different languages!
While he doesn’t consider himself fluent in all of them, he says he can definitely hold conversations in them. He grew up learning English, French, Italian, and Spanish – which is impressive on its own! After that, he expanded to learn German, Latin, Greek, Russian, Korean, and Chinese Mandarin. It must be amazing to see him promote his films on tour!
Jon Heder Learned Japanese When He Was A Missionary
When you think of Jon Heder and Napoleon Dynamite, you definitely don’t see someone who is fluent in Japanese. Well, the actor actually spent three years in Japan as a ‘proselytizing mission’. The reasons behind this are rather peculiar and sound like something out of its own film.
Heder’s family are devout Mormons and he was stationed in Japan as a missionary. He intended to try to convert some of the locals to follow his faith. His religious views are why we never heard Napolean swear harder than ‘gosh’ or ‘darn’.
Kendall Jenner Speaks To Birds
So far, it’s been quite common to see celebrities speak in European languages like French or Spanish, but Kendall Jenner isn’t exactly one to follow convention. The Keeping Up With The Kardashians co-star considers herself fluent in…bird.
Yep – Kendall Jenner claims to be able to talk to the birds in the sky. She achieves this through some unique whistling that can catch the attention of the animals in the sky. Apparently, the reality TV star loves animals and wanted to communicate with them
Viggo Mortensen And His Many Tongues
The star of Lord of the Rings had no problem picking up Elfish when acting in the iconic film trilogy. It turns out that the actor holds duel American-Danish citizenship and can speak both languages perfectly.
But that’s not all: Mortenson is also fluent in Spanish and can hold conversations in French, Italian, Swedish, and Norwegian. It seems that once you have the ability to know two languages, it is easier to pick up a third or fourth one. We wonder if he dubs his own films at all.
Sandra Bullock Grew Up With German
The Bird Box star may look and sound like an all-American star, but the Oscar-winning native is well-versed in German. Even though she was born and raised in Virginia, her mother was a native German speaker who raised Bullock to be bilingual.
In fact, her mother was a relatively famous opera singer and voice teacher – who better to teach you a new language? In 2012, Sandra Bulock accepted an award in German – initially shocking fans.
Diane Kruger Learned English
The National Treasure actress has a slight accent that some may find hard to place. The actress was born in Germany and grew up only knowing one language. That is until her mother sent her to on Summer exchanges every year to learn English.
It appears that all those travels paid off: by the time Kruger was a teenager she could easily change between the two languages. As well as English and German, Kruger can also speak fluent French.
Sandra Oh Can Speak Three Languages
Grey’s Anatomy actress Sandra Oh was born into a Korean family and grew up learning both Korean and English simultaneously. What’s more, the family was living in Canada, where children are required to learn French as well as English.
This means that by the time Oh was in her teens, she was fluent in three different languages. We hardly see the actress perform in any other language than English, but who knows what the star has in the pipeline?
Rose McGowan Confuses Her Languages
This Charmed star grew up in a cult, which might explain some of her weird behavior on social media today. The star was born in Italy and was raised speaking Italian. It wasn’t until later in life when she moved to Canada and learned Canadian French, and then later English and Spanish.
Apparently, the actress confuses all the languages and sometimes will reply to someone in a different dialect. Can you imagine asking her a question in English and she replies in Italian?
Charlize Theron Hated Her English
The South African beauty moved to the United States with her mother tongue still being her native Afrikaans. She started learning English when she enrolled in the National School of the Arts in Johannesburg.
Eventually, Theron dropped out of the school at 16 to pursue a career in modeling and never finished her studies. For years, she was self-conscious about her language skills – but it seems she had nothing to worry about. In 2004, she won an Oscar for her performance in Monster.
Joseph Gordon Levitt Became Bilingual
Joseph Gordon Levitt became a Hollywood star at a young age and had no need to go back to school. That’s why it’s even more impressive that the young Dark Knight Rises star decided to go to Columbia University and obtain a degree in French Poetry.
Unfortunately for the actor, he didn’t know a word of French before starting out! Over time, Gordon Levitt picked up the language and is now completely fluent in both English and French.