Watch: the UK and US celebrities that speak excellent French

From Johnny Depp to Serena Williams, listen to these English-speaking celebrities who have impressive level of French

Were you familiar with these celebrities' French-speaking skills?
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Anglophones are often perceived negatively by non-native speakers, as many do not learn or speak another language, and  often try to make everyone converse in English.

However, there are a handful of examples that counter this - perhaps unfair - reputation.

Here we look at the Anglophone celebrities who have impressed with their grasp of the French language.

Serena Williams

As well as being one of the best tennis players of all time, Serena Williams has also found the time to learn French.

She has frequently addressed crowds at the French Open tennis tournament.

Ms Williams learnt the language in her teenage years in the hope of one day being able to speak to French crowds as a champion.

She added the second reason for learning the language was because “in most African countries, the main language outside of their local language is French or English. So I figured: I know English, maybe I can learn French”.

Hannah Waddingham

Ted Lasso actor Hannah Waddingham hit the headlines for her French and Italian skills, which she put to use while hosting Eurovision in 2023.

While presenting both the Eurovision semi-finals and finals, Waddingham broke into French numerous times to explain the rules of the competition.

After one section, she said: “You see Europe, some of us Brits do bother to learn another language.”

It is unclear how Waddingham speaks such good French, however with an opera singer mother, it is perhaps from music where the actress’s love for languages derives.

Read also: Try these 17 French expressions to help improve your language skills

As for Italian, Waddingham’s former partner was an Italian businessman.

Bradley Cooper

Another actor with an impressive level of French is Hollywood A-lister Bradley Cooper, star of The Hangover, A Star Is Born, and many other blockbusters.

Having spent part of his childhood in Neuchâtel in Switzerland, Cooper then went on to live and study in Aix-en-Provence for 6 months during a university exchange.

Nowadays he often spends the month of August in Paris.

His French is so good that he was able to do an interview in French on a French panel show to promote A Star Is Born a few years ago.

Jodie Foster

Jodie Foster, known for her starring roles in films such as Taxi Driver, attended the Lycee Francais de Los Angeles and therefore speaks fluent French, so much so that she has acted in French films and dubs herself in the French versions of English films.

Read also: French courses to improve your language skills

As well as completing all of her studies in French, she also used to often spend Christmas in France with her mother.

She also often gives interviews about her films in French.

Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp spent a long time in a relationship with French actress and singer Vanessa Paradis, so it is perhaps not so surprising that the Pirates of the Caribbean actor speaks the language.

The former couple have daughter Lily-Rose Depp together, who grew up both in Paris and the United States, therefore also speaking both languages.

He also owns an entire French village in the south of France near St Tropez, that he has tried to sell many times with no success. Depp first bought the previously abandoned village in 2001, and it even boasts a private restaurant.

Read more: How to stay in touch with French culture when living in UK or US

Speaking about the difficulty of learning French - in particular getting to grips with the grammar - Depp has said it “drives him nuts”.

Emma Thompson

Emma Thompson showed interest in languages throughout school, taking French at A-level alongside English and Latin.

Although it was English she chose to study at the University of Cambridge, the UK actress has not left her French skills behind and still sometimes gives interviews in French.

Eddie Izzard

Eddie Izzard claims to be around 65% fluent in French.

Indeed the British comedian talks about learning French at GCSE during a stand-up show, which is bound to resonate with many people.

Izzard directly translates shows from English into French and has done the same in other countries on tour.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt 

Another American actor who can speak French is Joseph Gordon-Levitt. 

He learnt French in school, taking an interest in particular in French poetry, and sometimes gives interviews in the language to promote films. 

In 2015 he portrayed French high-wire artist Philippe Petit in 'The Walk'.

King Charles III 

Like his mother Queen Elizabeth II, the current British Monarch is well-versed in the French language. 

During a visit to the French Senate in 2023, the King spoke "near perfect" French during a long speech. 

 Read more: France charmed by King’s ‘almost perfect’ French