When you think of American celebrities who speak French, Jodie Foster automatically comes to mind. She attended the Lycée Français de Los Angeles and she not only acts in French films, but also dubs herself in French versions of her English-language movies. Foster started learning French at a young age, but other inspiring celebrities like Serena Williams or Joseph Gordon-Levitt managed to master the language as adults!
Here’s our list of our favorite American celebrities who speak French and whose American accents make us swoon. American accents can sometimes be really sexy, and it especially helps if you look like Bradley Cooper… Below you can watch clips of each of these celebrities speaking French and see what class level we’d place them in at Coucou. Yes, we know they’ll never have time to take classes at our school, but we can keep dreaming, can’t we?
By Sophia Millman
Serena Williams – Level 4 (Intermédiaire)
Serena Williams didn’t study French in school. She decided to learn the language while preparing for the French Open. In an interview she explained, “One of the reasons I learned French was I wanted to win the French Open, and I wanted to speak French when I won. The second was because, most African countries, the main language outside of their local language is French or English.” Serena has now mastered the language so well that she can speak it with her adorable daughter! Serena has a great accent, but her grammar isn’t quite perfect and she asks the interviewer to repeat his questions in the video above. If she were our student, we’d recommend that she enroll in a level 4 class.
Sandra Oh – Level 5 (Confirmé)
Sandra Oh speaks Korean and English fluently. She began learning French while studying at the National Theatre School of Canada in Montreal. In this video, she speaks quite well, but she says “Je suis vraiment excitée,” which means “I’m feeling really turned on” in French. She also says “ce que j’ai besoin” instead of “ce dont j’ai besoin”. This is a mistake that high-level students often make. If Sandra took classes at Coucou, we think she’d fit perfectly in a level 5 class.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt – Level 5 (Confirmé)
JGL is a self-declared ardent francophile who spent months preparing his French accent in order to shoot The Walk. He studied French literature for a few semesters at Columbia before dropping out to concentrate on his acting career. In this interview, he succeeds at clearly communicating his ideas, but he makes a few mistakes. For instance, he calls Belgium “Belge” rather than “Belgique”–a common translation error that English speakers make. We’d place him in a level 5 class where he could brush up on the subjunctive with other advanced students.
Bradley Cooper – Level 6 (Spécialiste)
Bradley Cooper took French classes while he was a student at Georgetown, and he also studied abroad for six months in Aix-en-Provence. His French hasn’t become rusty, either, because he spends part of the year in Paris. As you can see, he speaks the language with ease and is totally comfortable doing long interviews on French TV shows. As he points out in the interview, his grammar is “débile,” but he’s not afraid of making mistakes. We think he’d be a perfect student in a level 6 class.
Angela Davis – Level 7 (Expert)
Angela Davis majored in French at Brandeis and studied abroad at the Sorbonne. She is well-known in France: tennis star Yannick Noah wrote this song about her and recently a nursery school in one of Paris’s multiracial suburbs was named after her. If you’re interested in learning more about Davis’s relationship with France, check out this fascinating article! Angela’s knowledge of French culture and her perfect French grammar would make her an advanced level 7 student.
John Malkovich – Level 7 (Expert)
John Malkovich lived in Southern French for over ten years so his vocabulary and accent are quite impressive. He even directed a French theatrical version of Les Liaisons dangereuses, which demonstrates the extent to which he’s mastered the language. Because his French is practically flawless, he’d obviously be in one of our level 7 conversation classes.
Viggo Mortensen – Level 7 (Expert)
Viggo grew up speaking English, Spanish, and Danish. Then he decided to pick up another four languages for his career. You can watch him speaking all seven here. And he doesn’t just speak these languages “conversationally.” He speaks French impeccably in the promotional video for Green Book above. Honestly, it might be a little intimidating to have Viggo as a student, but we’d still love to teach him about French culture in a level 7 class!
Jodie Foster – Level 7+ (Irréprochable!)
Jodie has flawless grammar and most native speakers aren’t able to hear her accent. And did you know that she’s even recorded songs in French? Her French is so perfect that she doesn’t really need to take classes, but we’d still love to have her at our school (she could co-teach a level 7 class!)
Bonus 1 – Antoni Porowski (Fluent)
Antoni Porowski grew up speaking English and French in Quebec so he really doesn’t belong on this list. But because we’re fans of Queer Eye, we decided that we had to include him. We love his charming Canadian accent!
Bonus 2 – Joey Tribbiani (Disaster)
If fictional characters could study at our school, we’d love to have Joey as a student. But he’d definitely have to take private, intensive lessons!