10 Actors Who Are Surprisingly Fluent in Other Languages


(Photos: Getty Images | Pacific Coast News)

As if it wasn't enough to be rich, famous, attractive, and talented, some of Hollywood's biggest names are also multilingual. While some actors keep their polyglot passions under the radar — Salma Hayek (Portuguese, Arabic), Morgan Freeman (French), Will Smith (Spanish) — others are more than happy to practice their non-native tongues in front of crowds and cameras.

We scoured the depths of YouTube to bring you video proof that some of your favorite actors have some unexpected language skills. Check it out.

Natalie Portman — Hebrew


Whether because she keeps her private life private or because she changed her name from Herslag to Portman, a lot of people don't know just how important Natalie's Jewish heritage is to her, or that she was actually born in Israel. So with that in mind, Portman's ability to converse in Hebrew shouldn't come as much of a shock.



Bradley Cooper — French


Being voted the "sexiest man alive" should do wonders for a guy's chances with the opposite sex. Likewise, being able to carry on a conversation in what is often called the sexiest language in the world can't hurt either. Bradley Cooper must have been a great person in his past life because he has both those boxes checked.



Charlize Theron — Afrikaans


Charlize Theron's lack of accent makes some people forget she's African (South African to be exact). In fact, English isn't even Theron's first language; it's Afrikaans. What's more, in an attempt to make the actress' name more suitable for our American tongues, the media has convinced the world to mispronounce it. Watch as she gives Piers Morgan a lesson on what "Charlize Theron" is supposed to sound like.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt — French


A self-described Francophile, Joseph Gordon-Levitt was inspired to take on the French language after studying French poetry at Columbia University. Although he dropped out to concentrate on acting, he continued to pursue the language. In this clip, JGL is a little on the cautious, choppy side of things, but, more recently, when he straps on a guitar and gets behind a mic, the language of love comes flowing naturally.


Sandra Bullock — German


Pop quiz: Where did Sandra Bullock spend a significant amount of her childhood? If you said Germany, you're right (you also have a knack for connecting very obvious dots). Bullock often traveled through Europe while her mother, a German-born opera singer, was on tour. During this time, the future Oscar-winner became fluent in her mom's native tongue, as she demonstrates in the clip on the right.


Colin Firth — Italian


In Love Actually, Colin Firth's character spends hours upon hours trying to learn Portuguese so he can communicate with the woman he loves. Well, Firth's real life isn't that far off from the film. Colin began Italian lessons when he started dating Livia Giuggioli in order to be more connected with her. Now, the pair is married with children, and Firth is totally fluent.


Gwyneth Paltrow — Spanish


Gwyneth Paltrow has openly admitted to enjoying Europe more than her native USA, and while marrying Chris Martin and living in England likely cemented that preference, her love for our neighbors across the Atlantic started early on. When Paltrow was 15, she spent a year studying in Spain, where she learned to speak Spanish. So impressed were her Spanish fans that in 2003 the town of Talavera De la Reina named her their "adopted daughter."


Viggo Mortensen — Danish
(among others)

Viggo Mortensen is a name that sounds vaguely ethnic, but it's difficult to place, which is appropriate considering the actor's background. Viggo was born to an American mother and Danish father who met in Norway. Once Viggo came around, the family moved to Venezuela, then Denmark, before eventually settling in Argentina until he was 11, at which point he moved to New York. The globe-trotting helped Mortensen become a man of many languages. He is fluent in English, Danish, Spanish; conversational in French and Italian, and understands Norwegian and Swedish.


Kim Cattrall — German


Kim Cattrall's second marriage to Andre Lyson ended in divorce in 1989, but she came out of the split with a second language to show for it. During their time together, Cattrall and Lyson lived in Frankfurt where she learned to speak German. While she has since admitted to forgetting much of what she learned, Kim seems to be doing just fine in this clip from 2008.


Casey Affleck — Spanish


If big brother Ben ever gives Casey a hard time about being one Oscar behind in the Affleck family, at least Casey can return the favor by bragging about his ability to speak a second language. While shooting Ocean's Thirteen, in which several scenes were set in Mexico, Casey was required to deliver many of his lines in Spanish. Affleck took the opportunity to become fluent, which wasn't too hard since he once spoke it conversationally when he was a kid.
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