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12 young(ish) celebrities who are fluent in two or more languages

Updated: Aug 4, 2021


In a world dominated by English media and entertainment, it’s sometimes easy to forget that many of Hollywood’s finest are multilingual. Here’s a list of 12 young(ish) celebrities who are fluent in two or more languages. OK, no. 4 on the list is not actually a Hollywood star but I think you'll agree that he does deserve a place here…


1. Mila Kunis – Russian and English

The Hollywood actress of Black Swan fame spent the first seven years of her life in the Soviet Union, before moving to the United States at the age of seven. She continued to speak Russian at home with her parents and as a result she’s still a fluent speaker of the language. One video of her defending her friend and co-star Justin Timberlake during a Russian news conference has been viewed more than 5 million times on Youtube. [link] Isn’t it amazing how hearing a famous and familiar celebrity speak in a foreign language can make you see them in a totally different light?


2. Timothée Chalamet

What’s not to love about the 25-year-old heartthrob, who somehow manages to look ridiculously gorgeous even with a bowl/ medieval monk haircut? The Call Me by Your Name actor is also truly bilingual – born to an American mother and French father, Chalamet was born and raised in New York City but spent many summers at his grandparents’ home in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon. As Chalamet himself explained: “Once I was there, I became the French version of myself… I was completely imbued with the culture, and I even dreamed in French.” Dreamy indeed...


3. RM (The “Rap Monster”/ Kim Nam-joon) from BTS

RM “Rap Monster” (real name: Kim Nam-joon), the leader and lead rapper of the South Korean boy band, is fluent in Korean (obviously), Japanese and English, and often acts as unofficial interpreter for his band-mates. According to RM himself, he picked up English through watching the iconic sitcom Friends: “Back in the days, when I was like 15, 14, it was quite like a syndrome for all the Korean parents to make their kids watch Friends. I thought I was kind of like a victim at that time, but right now, I’m the lucky one, thanks to my mother.” Thanks also to Joey and Ross!


4. Mark Zuckerberg – Mandarin and English

The founder of Facebook caused a sensation in 2014 when he made his international “debut” in Chinese, during a 20-minute interview at Tsinghua University, China. [link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Xpdhbh_2Rc&t=1472s]

Most native Chinese speakers would agree that while his pronunciation isn’t the best, he did express himself quite well and understood all of the host’s questions. And you have to admire his courage in showcasing his not-so-perfect language skills for the world to see, conducting an interview entirely in Chinese! According to Zuckerberg himself, he started with an hour of self-study per day, before progressing to two hours of study per day with a tutor, which is quite a lot of time investment for someone who presumably has a pretty full schedule managing the world’s 8th most valuable company (as of 2021). So if Mark Zuckerberg could find the time to study a second language, so could you / your child!


5. Natalie Portman – English, Hebrew, French, German, Spanish and Japanese

The child-actor-turned-Hollywood-megastar is the epitome of the phrase “beauty with brains” – Portman not only has a degree in psychology from Harvard, but is also fully bilingual in Hebrew and English, having been born in Jerusalem to an Israeli father and American mother. Oh, and she also knows conversational French, German, Spanish and Japanese. Respect!


6. Tom Hiddleston – English, Spanish, French and Greek

If the phrase “beauty with brains” had a male equivalent, Tom Hiddleston would be its poster boy. With his 1.88m stature and enviable bone structure, Hiddleston has clearly won the genetic lottery in the looks department but the old Etonian is pretty formidable in the intellect department too – he earned a double first in Classics at the University of Cambridge and is fluent in English, Spanish, French and Greek.


7. Rita Ora – English and Albanian

The British singer moved to London from Kosovo with her family when she was a toddler and grew up in multicultural Notting Hill. Luckily for her, her Kosovo-Albanian parents brought her up to be bilingual in Albanian and English and the singer is famously proud of her cultural heritage, as one of the few famous Kosovan faces internationally. In 2015, Rita Ora was named an honorary ambassador of the Republic of Kosovo – not bad for a (then) 24-year-old superstar…


8. Gwyneth Paltrow – English and Spanish

The founder of GOOP has at times caused controversy with interesting products such as “vaginal eggs”, a $15,000 sex toy and “vagina candles”. But polyglots would certainly admire the way she’s embraced bilingualism – Paltrow is perfectly fluent in Spanish, in addition to her native English. When the Californian actress-turned-entrepreneur was 15, she spent a year as an exchange student in Talavera de la Reina, Spain, where she learned to speak Spanish. She often talks about her love for the Spanish language and culture, and she even speaks to her daughter and son in Spanish at home.


9. Jon Heder – English and Japanese

You’ve probably heard of the 2004 smash hit comedy Napoleon Dynamite. But did you know that Jon Heder, the actor who played the title role, is fluent in Japanese? The American actor and film producer grew up in a Mormon community in Oregon. After high school, he went on a two-year religious mission to Japan, where he became fluent in Japanese. This came in handy when he wowed Japanese fans at a news conference with his language skills years later, after he’d found fame.


10. Joseph Gordon-Levitt – English and French

The gorgeous American actor, most recognisable for his role in the 2009 romcom 500 Days of Summer, is fluent in English and French. He reportedly speaks French with a perfect Parisian accent – not so surprising for the self-confessed Francophile who also studied French poetry at Columbia University. His language skills turned out to be a huge asset during the filming process of the 2015 film The Walk, which tells the story of Philippe Petit, a French high-wire artist.


11. Shakira – English, Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese

It’s perhaps no surprise that the Hips Don’t Lie singer is fluent in Spanish. Originally from Colombia, Shakira has been hailed the “Queen of Latin Music” and is one of the most recognisable Colombian faces in the world. Less well known is the fact that she’s also fluent in Italian, French and Portuguese, in addition to her mother tongue and English. But perhaps even more impressive than her language skills are her philanthropic achievements – for more than a decade she has devoted herself to humanitarian and advocacy work, with a strong focus on universal education and early childhood development. Go girl!


12. Alicia Vikander – English, Swedish and Danish

The incredibly talented and versatile Swedish actress is fluent in Swedish, Danish and English. Admittedly, the two Nordic languages are closely related but her English accent is absolutely flawless, as seen in her award-winning performance in the 2014 film Testament of Youth, playing the leading role of Vera Brittain, a real historic figure who abandoned her studies at Oxford to become a nurse during the First World War.

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