It’s funny because even though celebrities are considerably more good-looking than me, and obviously far wealthier, I’ve always harboured the sneaking feeling that most of them are a bit dim. We all know how hard it is to learn another language, and we certainly know how hard it is to learn French. So for these fame-obsessed stars to be rich, famous, funny, good-looking, AND speak French, well…it’s just not possible, is it?
It is. Prepare to be amazed, because here are some celebrities speaking French, and most of them aren’t half bad. Furthermore, I can guarantee that they actually speak French in real life. In fact, if you don’t believe me, why don’t you try and hack their telephone numbers, phone them up and ask them. See what they say.
If you get through, then leave a comment at the end of this article.
#1 Leighton Meester
Leighton Meester is probably best-known for the American TV series Gossip Girl, although I think she was amazing as the teenager who fancied Dr House in House. Apart from that, I can’t think of anything else, but I’m sure she’s very famous and good at her job. And look, she speaks French, and her accent isn’t too shoddy. This is not a great video, but good enough to admit she knows what she’s doing.
#2 Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a very, very good actor. You can see him in some great films like Inception, Looper, 10 Things I Hate About You, (500) Days of Summer and The Dark Knight Rises, all in which sadly he speaks no French. Here he replies to questions in an interview in French, and even though he doesn’t know a word or two, you’ve got to admit he’s got it. Apparently he speaks French because he likes the language, not because he’s spent any particular amount of time here. He can also dance really well. I’m starting to find him a bit annoying now actually, so let’s move on quickly
#3 Tom Hiddlestone
Tom Hiddlestone is British, and his star is very much on the rise. Not content in playing demigod Loki in the Marvel films, he’s also just played his socks (and shirt) off in The Night Manager. Rumour has it that he will be the next James Bond. He also speaks Spanish and Greek. Here he talks about playing Loki in the Marvel film Thor. He speaks slowly, but his accent is good and clear, and he doesn’t make many mistakes.
#4 Jodie Foster
Yes, Jodie’s big secret is out. Something that we have long known about, but something she has not dared to talk about in public. Year after year “elle crève l’écran“*, she amazes us with her dedication to her art, and suddenly, we discover the BIG news, namely she speaks perfect French. So good, in fact, that she has been in French films. In this short excerpt, she speaks excellent French, like a foreigner who’s lived in France for years and years, and can even take on expressions only the French would say, for example “C’est top“**. A short trip over to Wikipedia tells us she learned French at prep school, and even dubs herself in French films. That’s dedication. If it was me, I’d get Jean Dujardin to be me. No one want to hear me speaking French when you could hear Jean instead.
*French expression possibly meaning “scene stealer“. ** “It’s really cool“.
#5 Bradley Cooper
Bradley Cooper constantly surprises me. I saw him first in “The Wedding Crashers” where he played what I thought was a short and stocky bully and I was surprised at how much I didn’t like him, and was convinced he’d play roles like that for the rest of his career. I was wrong (I often am), and saw him next in The Hangover where suddenly he was tall and cool. How had he grown? Anyway, apparently Bradley spent 6 months in at university in Aix-en-Provence and he still speaks surprisingly good French. I spent 2 years at university in Paris and didn’t speak as well as he does here. He looks a bit crap, if I’m honest, but he answers all the questions and is easy to understand. Chapeau bas*.
*This literally means “low hat”, which I admit is a bit strange. But when you say it in French, it refers to a man bowing down and holding his hat low, an expression showing respect, and perhaps admiration.
#6 Gwyneth Paltrow
Gwyneth, like Jodie, is an Oscar winner. I used to really like her, but now when I see her heavy eyeliner I get the feeling I’m being manipulated into thinking she’s sweet and innocent. Which she can’t be because she runs a website called Goop, which I assume is about face masks. Anyway, moving on. Gwyneth speaks high-class English, great Spanish and not-bad French, which you can see for yourself in this short video where she talks about her role in Ironman. Ah, now there’s another link – Tom Hiddlestone was in Ironman too. I think we can see some cool trends here…
#7 Kristin Scott Thomas
Jodie has a serious rival when it comes to speaking great French, and her name is Kristin Scott Thomas. Kristin first came to my attention in 4 Weddings and a Funeral, where she blew the constantly terrible Andie MacDowell out of the water. Then she was simply excellent in The English Patient and I can’t remember anything much since then. However, she lives in Paris and has been in quite a few French films. You can see her speaking French perfectly in this interview, so well in fact that she is not thinking about the language, but just answering the questions.
#8 Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp is obviously mad. Quite insane. Not for playing Jack Sparrow so many times. Not for drinking and taking drugs far too much in his youth (hey, he’s been young a long time). Not for playing in so many Tim Burton films. But for being with Vanessa Paradis and then splitting up to marry Amber wotsit. If you know anything about France, you do NOT split up with Vanessa Paradis. Her last name means “Paradise” for the love of François Hollande. She’s now a national monument and can do no wrong. Unlike Johnny, who here gives a good effort, speaking in quite good French on stage. He gets by, but I really think after spending so much time in France he could be a lot better. B+.
Discover the secrets of learning French
If you would like to learn French quickly with a minimum of stress and a maximum of fun, then click here to discover a short video that will explain the secrets to learning French.