Celebrities are famous for being highly skilled at what they do – whether it’s acting, singing or modelling. Some, though, have hidden talents that not many people know about. We are of course talking about knowledge of other languages. Perhaps this is part of what helped them stand out from the crowd when they were beginning their careers? Here is a list of some of the multilingual celebrities that we all know and love:
Sandra Bullock, the star of Oscar-winning film Gravity, is the daughter of a German opera singer. Although born in the USA, she was raised in Nuremburg, Germany for twelve years and grew up speaking German. In 2000, she won a Bambi award (Germany’s version of the Oscars) and gave her acceptance speech in German.
Diane Kruger, famous for her roles in Troy and Inglorious Basterds, was born and raised in Germany and is therefore a native German speaker. She now lives in America and speaks English fluently, but she is also fluent in French having moved to Paris to pursue modelling earlier on in her career.
Jennifer Aniston is half-Greek. Her father is Greek and she lived in Greece for a year as a child. She is fluent in the language but admits to not being a fan of the cuisine.
Gwyneth Paltrow speaks fluent Spanish. She is an “adopted daughter” of Talavera de la Reina (Spain), where at 15 she spent a year as an exchange student and learned to speak Spanish. She speaks to her children, Apple and Moses, in Spanish at home as she wants them to both speak the language.
Mila Kunis was born in Ukraine and raised in Communist Russia and so her mother tongue is Russian. Her family moved to Los Angeles when Mila was aged seven.
Shakira is an impressive polyglot. Aside from her native Spanish (she was born in Colombia), she is fluent in English and Portuguese. She can also speak Italian, Catalan and Arabic. Shakira records music in both Spanish and English and is the most successful Latin American artist of all time. She currently lives in Barcelona.
Leonardo DiCaprio was born in Los Angeles to an Italian/German father and a German mother. He speaks German fluently.
Natalie Portman speaks fluent Hebrew. The 32-year-old actress and Harvard-grad was born in Jerusalem to an Israeli father and American mother. She grew up speaking Hebrew and English, but also knows conversational French, Japanese, German and Spanish. If that isn’t impressive enough, Portman appeared in Sir Paul McCartney’s music video for “My Valentine”, using sign language to mimic the song’s lyrics.
Colin Firth is fluent in Italian. In 1997, he married Italian film producer and director Livia Giuggioli. The couple now live in both London and Italy. They have two sons, Luca and Matteo. Mirroring his character’s storyline from the film ‘Love Actually’, Firth didn’t know any Italian before he met Giuggioli.
J. K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books, speaks both French and Portuguese. Her mother was half-French and Rowling studied English, French and German at A-level, gaining two As and a B. Despite reading for a BA in English and Classics at University, she spent a year studying in Paris and her first job after graduating was working as a bilingual secretary for Amnesty International. Her knowledge of other languages is evident in the fabricated words that she included in her Harry Potter stories. Examples are Beauxbatons, which means beautiful wands, Fleur Delacour from ‘fleur’ meaning ‘flower’ and ‘de la cour’ meaning ‘of the court’ and Malfoy from the French phrase ‘mal foi’ meaning ‘bad faith’.