Celebrities — they’re just like us! They shop, they hang out with friends, they speak French. (Really.) Here are some French speaking celebrities (or check out a compilation video below to see 8 of them in one video).
1. Jodie Foster
This actress studied at the Lycée Français de Los Angeles, where she learned impeccable French, impressing her French fans over in l’Hexagone. When her films get French voice-overs, Foster does the dubbing herself!
2. Bradley Cooper
The American actor best known for his roles in The Hangover and Silver Linings Playbook started learning French in school. He even spent six months in a university near Aix-en-Provence in France. There, he lived with a host family and completely immersed himself in the language.
3. John Kerry
The 2004 presidential candidate and Secretary of State under Obama has a French mother (who was born and raised in Paris by her American parents), which apparently merited some teasing from his Republican competitors. He spent a bunch of time in his mother’s town, Saint-Briac-sur-Mer, and went to school in Switzerland. His cousin is none other than the French politician Brice Lalonde.
4. Joseph Gordon Levitt
The 500 Days of Summer actor studied French poetry when he was studying at Columbia. He’s a big fan of Godard and Nouvelle Vague cinéma. Today, he doesn’t miss an opportunity to do an interview in French, or to sing a song by Brel!
5. Jane Fonda
Onlookers at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival may have been surprised to hear a speech in French from actress, producer, and director Jane Fonda. But Fonda speaks French very well since she learned French while she was married to French film director Roger Vadim (of And God Created Woman fame) for seven years. They had one daughter together, Vanessa Vadim, who was born in France.
6. Gwyneth Paltrow
GOOP beauty guru is Gwyneth Paltrow almost fluently bilingual in Spanish, and gets along in French pretty well. For proof, check out this interview for Iron Man 3 in which she held her own responding to a question in French.
7. Marlon Brando
American actor Marlon Brando played an unforgettable Italian in The Godfather, but it was in fact French that he had to learn to speak out of necessity. When Brando married French actress Tarita Teriipaia, he had to learn to speak French so he could participate in dinner conversation.
8. Serena Williams
This world-famous tennis champion Serena Williams decided that she should master French to get the French public at Roland Garros securely on her side for the French Open tournament. She’s given several interviews in French, including this one.
9. Mitt Romney
The losing candidate in the 2012 presidential election and foe of President Donald Trump, Mitt Romney not only speaks French, but he’s a huge Francophile (which clearly didn’t help him get elected). Romney lived in France during the May 1968 workers’ and students’ revolt, and he roamed the country as an LDS missionary.
10. Timothée Chalamet
The Call Me By Your Name actor is a born-and-raised New Yorker, but grew up spending summers in the small French town of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, where his French father’s family lived. Despite speaking fluent French, director Wes Anderson chose not to have Timothée Chalamet speak it in his 2021 film, The French Dispatch, set in the fictional French town of Ennui-sur-Blasé. But Chalamet speaks plenty of French in Call Me By Your Name, and has been interviewed in French many times.
11. John Malkovich
Academy Award-winning actor John Malkovich speaks French fluently, and has even directed stage productions in French, including a 2012 production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses. He even won a Molière Award, the highest French theatrical honor, for his 2008 direction in French of the play Good Canary in Paris.
The Colombian singer is something of a polyglot, speaking Spanish, English, Portuguese, Italian, French and Catalan. Shakira has been known to sing in French, as in her song “Je l’Aime à Mourir,” and has given interviews in French.
13. Lily Collins
While actress Lily Collins, daughter of British musician Phil Collins, plays the daffy bumpkin American Emily Cooper on Emily in Paris, she’s far from the novice Emily is when it comes to speaking French. Collins grew up speaking French with her half-Swiss brothers, as well as in school, and while she is shy about speaking French on camera outside of her Netflix show, it’s evident in this interview on French TV that she comprehends French entirely.
14. Johnny Depp
Despite his many controversies, Johnny Depp remains one of the most famous American Francophiles today. The actor spent 15 years with the French model Vanessa Paradis, and has a half-French daughter, the actress Lily-Rose Depp. He owned an entire village in France for some time, and picked up some French along the way.
15. Emma Watson
Though the British actress is famous for her posh accent and quick tongue in the Harry Potter film franchise, Emma Watson was actually born in Paris, where she lived until she was five years old. Though her French skills have deteriorated in the meantime, she’s been known to give interviews in French.