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20 Celebrities You Didn’t Know Spoke French

20 Celebrities You Didn’t Know Spoke French
Elton John and Jodie Foster both speak French.
Elton John and Jodie Foster both speak French.
Georges Biard, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons; LGEPR, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ever wonder which celebrities speak French? Here I’ve compiled a list of Hollywood actors and actresses, rock stars, sports stars and politicians who all have learned and can speak French. I actually evaluated their French and gave them grades ranging from A-F. You’ll be really impressed by people such as Jodie Foster, Bradley Cooper, Oliver Stone and Mick Jagger. Some people such as John Travolta are less impressive and others such as Justin Bieber are outright embarrassing!

List of celebrities who speak French

List of celebrities who speak French and their grades.

Jodie Foster

Jodie Foster makes the top of my list as her mastery of the language is phenomenal. She speaks like a native speaker with perfect pronunciation. Jodie studied at the Lycée Français de Los Angeles. She has played roles in French films and dubs herself in French versions of her English films. Jodie, I have nothing but respect and admiration for you. You’re at the top of my list with and A++.

Bradley Cooper

Bradley Cooper’s French is amazing. He gets an A. His pronunciation is excellent and so is his vocabulary. The only I issue I could see watching the clip is a slight issue with verb tenses – but who’s perfect? Nevertheless, I was very impressed. Bradley learned French at Georgetown and spent six months as an exchange student in Aix-en-Provence, France. Brad, your French is fantastic and you set a great example for young students looking to learn French. I give you a solid A.

Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn was a huge movie star in the 1950-60s and some of her most famous movies include Sabrina, The Nun’s Story, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and may more. As the result of travelling due to her father’s job Audrey learned French in her youth. She spoke French beautifully with an amazing accent. She’s way at the top of my list with an A+. Bravo, Audrey! Je vous aime!

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney was the former governor of Massachusetts and ran in the 2012 presidential election against Barack Obama. According to Wikipedia, Mitt learned French in the late 1960s as a missionary in France. In this video he’s promoting the 2002 winter olympics in Salt Lake City. Since he’s reading from a prompter it’s hard to determine his level of fluency. But, I’ve seen him in one other video and he’s pretty good. Mitt, I can see you’ve done your homework and I’m very impressed with your French. A-, my friend.

John Malkovich

John Malkovich is a leading American actor and film director and has received Academy Award nomination for his roles in Places in the Heart and In the Line of Fire. According to Wikipedia, John lived and worked in a theater in southern France for nearly 10 years. I love listening to John speak French. He expresses himself really well and his calmness comes through even when speaking a foreign language. John, I give you an A-. Very good work, my friend.

Elton John

Elton John is a leading British singer-songwriter, has one five Grammy Awards and his single “Candle in the Wind” (1997) was the best-selling single in history in the UK and US. I looked all over the internet to find how Elton learned French but couldn’t find the answer. His French is okay but not amazing. There are issues with verb tenses and gender. It’s also clear that he has issues with listening comprehension. There’s a lot of room for improvement but he’s on the right track. Elton, I give you a B-. Keep trying.

Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow is an American actress and won an Academy Award for her role in Shakespeare in Love (1998). She speaks French pretty well but has some issues with making the gender of adjectives agree. That said, she has tremendous capacity for learning foreign langauges as I found another video where she was speaking Spanish very fluently with an accent from Spain. Gwyneth, for now I give you a solid B.

Hugh Grant

Hugh Grant is an English actor who has won a Golden Globe award been in films such as Mickey Blue Eyes and Notting Hill. Hugh learned French when he came to Paris as an exchange student at 14 years-old. Hugh has a bit of an English accent but overall his French is fantastic. He can say whatever he wants with little difficulty. I give Hugh a B+. Good work, Hugh!

John Kerry

John Kerry is the United States Secretary of State under President Barack Obama and was a candidate in the 2004 U.S. presidential election against George W. Bush. I couldn’t find where and when he learned French and it’s hard to determine his real ability as he’s reading off scripts in the videos on YouTube. But, I think his pronunciation is fine and he seems to express himself with ease and comfort. Also note that when it comes to languages he’s a very impressive guy. He also speaks German in this video. Mr. Secretary of State, I give you a solid B. Nice job.

Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp is award-winning American actor and has started in movies including the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, Edward Scissorhands and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I couldn’t figure out where Johnny learned French. But, in the few videos where I saw him speaking it’s very clear to me that his French is excellent. He has amazing pronunciation and expresses himself with ease. Also, he seems to be a very humble individual. Johnny, you get an A. Good work.

Kirk Douglas

Kirk Douglas was an American actor who’s one of the last surviving stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood in the 1950s. He stared in 1960s hits Lonely Are the Brave and Seven Days in May and many more. He is also the father of Michael Douglas. I’m not sure where he learned French but he speaks very well with lots of confidence and ease. Kirk, I give you an A- for your good work.

John Travolta

John Travolta is a famous American Actor. His career started in the 1970s with roles in Welcome Back, Kotter and Greece and he re-emerged in the 1990s in Pulp Fiction and many more films. I couldn’t find out exactly where John learned French. In this video he’s bit shy and shows that he’s a lower-intermediate student. He’s trying very hard and can engage in basic conversation. With some more lessons he’d be speaking much better. John, for now I give you a C but keep up the good work my friend!

Oliver Stone

Oliver Stone is a leading American film director, screenwriter, and producer. Notable works include the movies Platoon, Wall Street, JFK and Nixon and many more. After watching several vidoes with Oliver Stone speaking French I rank him way at the top of my list just below Jodie Foster. It’s clear that he’s dedicated years of his life to reaching a level where he’s almost totally bilingual. Oliver, you get a very solid A+. Great job!

Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong is a former professional bike racer. He won the Tour de France from 1999-05 but was stripped of his victories following a doping scandal. In this video Lance shows that while he is able to express himself his pronunciation isn’t amazing and he’s looking for his words a bit. Lance, you get a B-.

Marlon Brando

Marlon Brando was one of the greatest American actors of all time and performed in movies including On the Waterfront, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Godfather and many more. Tahitian actress, Tarita Teriipaia, was a native French speaker and became Brando’s third wife. In this video he gives an entire interview in French and shows he’s able to discuss numerable subjects with ease. His French isn’t amazing but it’s still very good. Marlon is a very solid B student.

Mick Jagger

Mick Jagger is a leading UK rock star and is the lead singer and co-founder of the Rolling Stones. From this video you can see Mick is very comfortable speaking French. He makes a few tiny grammatical errors but really doesn’t look for his words at all. Mick, I give you a B+. Keep it up my friend!

Phil Collins

Phil Collings is a leading UK rock star and the lead singer of the Band Genesis. Phil’s hit singles have included In the Air Tonight, Against All Odds, Sussudio and Another Day in Paradise. In this video he shows that he’s quite comfortable talking about his songs in French. But, he doesn’t come across as “amazing” to me. Phil, I give you a B-.

Queen Elizabeth II

Elizabeth II was the Queen of the UK, Canada and Australia. After the King of Thailand she had been the longest standing monarch in the world. The Queen received private tuition and was taught French by several native-speaking governesses. I included this old video on a trip to Canada because I love the way she speaks and enjoyed following along with the English and French subtitles. The Queen speaks beautifully and has a delightful “accent britannique”. I definitely give you an A, Votre Majesté.

Serena Williams

Serena Williams is an American tennis player who has ranked No. 1 and is one of the greatest tennis players of all time. It was definitely fun watching Serena speaking French in this video. She understands almost all the questions and is able to express herself pretty well. But, her vocabulary and verbs are lacking a bit. She is a very solid student. Serina, I give you a B.

Shania Twain

Shania Twain is a Canadian singer and songwriter and is the best-selling female artist in the history of country music. Her most successful singles have included You’re Still the One, From This Moment On and Man! I Feel Like a Woman! In this video she explains that her husband and child both speak French but they don’t correct her. I think she speaks really well and enjoyed listening to her in this video. Shania, you get a B+!

Sigourney Weaver

Sigourney Weaver is a leading American actress and has stared in movies including Alien, Ghostbusters and Avatar and many more. In this interview she uses both French and English. It’s clear to me that she’s probably very comfortable speaking in French in social situations but it might be a bit hard for her to find all the vocabulary she needs to discuss her movies. Sigourney, I give you a very solid B+. Bravo!

Tony Blair

Tony Blair was the Prime Minister of the UK from 1997 to 2007. In this video it’s very clear to me that Tony’s French is excellent. He is able to answer questions with ease, doesn’t struggle to find his words and has mastered the verb tenses and usages. He’s way at the top of my list. Mr. Prime Minister, you rightfully deserve an A. Well done!

Eddie Izzard

Eddie Izzard is a leading UK comedian, has appeared in many movies and has worked as a voice actor. He’s known for cross-gender dressing and makeup. Eddie speaks really well and even performs in French. In fact, I was so captivated by his personality that I forgot that he was speaking French when I was watching the video. His pronunciation is excellent and so is his mastery of vocabulary usage. Eddie, I give you an A-.

Elle MacPherson

Elle MacPherson is a leading Australian model, actress and businesswoman and is famous for her nickname, “The Body” following five appearances on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. In this video she speaks about lingerie fashion. It’s very clear to me that her French is excellent: fantastic pronunciation and a high level of vocabulary mastery. Elle, you definitely get an A from me.

Emma Thompson

Emma Thompson is one of the UK’s leading actresses and has received two Academy Award nominations for her roles in The Remains of the Day and In the Name of the Father. In this interview she show that her French is excellent. She is able to discuss details about her film and offer lots of opinions and insights. Her grammar and pronunciation are fantastic. Emma, you are right up there at the top and get an A!

Madeleine Albright

Madeleine Albright was the former United States Secretary of State under Bill Clinton. She was born in Prague and learned French while studying in Switzerland. In this short video it’s apparent that she speaks French really well. But, I could not find a video where she’s giving a longer interview. Based on what I see she’s very solid. Madeleine, I give you a B.

Justin Beiber

Justin Beiber is a Canadian rock star and has been teen sensation since 2008 with an estimated 100 million record sales and video views on YouTube surpassing 10 billion. I searched high and low for videos of Justin speaking French but couldn’t find any! This came as a surprise as I saw on Wikipedia that he he studied in a French language immersion program when he was little. This leads me to one conclusion: Justin, you flunk French and I’ll have to give you an F!

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David Issokson

David Issokson is a lifelong language enthusiast. His head is swimming with words and sounds as he speaks over six languages. Of all the languages he speaks, he's the most passionate about French! David has helped hundreds of students to improve their French in his private online lessons. When procrastinating working on FrenchLearner, David enjoys his time skiing and hiking in Teton Valley, Idaho.

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