Celebrities Who Speak Spanish as a Second Language

Some didn't learn the foreign language until adulthood

Will Smith, a celebrity who learned Spanish
Will Smith performs in Tokyo in 2017. Jun Sato/Getty Images

If you're learning Spanish, you're in the company of celebrities. There are plenty of famous folks who grew up with Spanish as a first language and have crossed over into English-language stardom, but there are some Spanish-speaking actors and famed individuals who had to learn the language like the rest of us. Although not everyone claims to be fluent, here are some celebrities you may recognize who have worked to gain some Spanish skills.

  • Actors Ben Affleck and his younger brother Casey Affleck learned Spanish while living in Mexico and during film stints in that country.
  • Poet Maya Angelou (1928–2014) traveled extensively during her adult life. According to her official website, Angelou voraciously read and studied; she was able to master French, Italian, Spanish, Arabic, and Fanti (a language of western Africa).
  • Baseball manager Dusty Baker speaks Spanish fluently. According to SportingNews, he learned the language in high school classes because his mother made him. His language abilities inspired others on the field to learn Spanish, including first baseman Joey Votto, who said in a 2012 interview that he studies daily and even hired a tutor so he could better communicate with Latin American players.
  • Soccer superstar David Beckham learned Spanish while playing for Real Madrid.
  • Italian actress Monica Bellucci has appeared in at least one Spanish-language movie, "A los que aman" ("Those Who Love") in 1998.
  • German-born Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, is multilingual like many of his predecessors. He routinely addressed Spanish-speaking audiences in their native tongue.
  • Rocker Jon Bon Jovi has recorded songs in Spanish, including "Cama de rosas" ("Bed of Roses").
  • Actress Kate Bosworth speaks Spanish fluently, according to her IMDb profile.
  • When he was president of the United States, George W. Bush occasionally answered questions from news reporters in Spanish. He appeared to understand the spoken language much better than he could speak it. His brother, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, speaks Spanish quite well.
  • Jimmy Carter also demonstrated Spanish-language skills during his presidency. He studied Spanish at the U.S. Naval Academy and would often speak Spanish at conferences in Latin American countries. However, in situations where the nuances of words mattered, he insisted on the use of professional translators.
  • Although he married an Argentinian woman, actor Matt Damon spoke Spanish long before he met her. He explained in a 2012 interview with The Guardian that he studied Spanish as a teenager through immersion in Mexico and got practice when he backpacked throughout Mexico and Guatemala.
  • American actor Danny DeVito, who voiced the title role in the 2012 animated film "The Lorax," also provided the voice for the Spanish and Latin American versions.
  • As a young actress, Dakota Fanning had a Spanish-speaking role in the 2004 film "Man on Fire."
  • Although he didn't speak Spanish before signing on, actor and comedian Will Ferrell starred in the 2012 Spanish-language film "Casa de mi padre."
  • Australian movie heartthrob Chris Hemsworth has picked up a smattering of Spanish from his wife, Spanish actress Elsa Pataky. 
  • British actor Tom Hiddleston is known for his attempts to speak native languages when talking to his foreign fans. He's used French, Greek, Italian, bits of Korean and Chinese, and, of course, Spanish.
  • Actor Matthew McConaughey picked up Spanish while growing up in Uvalde, Texas, which has a large Spanish-speaking population.
  • American actress Gwyneth Paltrow spent the summer of her sophomore year of high school as a foreign exchange student in Talavera de la Reina, Spain. She continues to regularly visit the town and her host family.
  • Musician David Lee Roth recorded a Spanish version of his 1986 album "Eat 'Em and Smile," calling it "Sonrisa Salvaje" (meaning "Wild Smile").
  • Actor Will Smith spoke a limited amount of Spanish during a 2009 interview on the Spanish TV show "El Hormiguero." At one point he exclaimed, "¡Necesito más palabras!" ("I need more words!").
  • Actor and singer David Soul learned Spanish while attending college in Mexico City. He also can speak German.
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Your Citation
Erichsen, Gerald. "Celebrities Who Speak Spanish as a Second Language." ThoughtCo, Sep. 9, 2021, thoughtco.com/countries-spanish-second-language-3079181. Erichsen, Gerald. (2021, September 9). Celebrities Who Speak Spanish as a Second Language. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/countries-spanish-second-language-3079181 Erichsen, Gerald. "Celebrities Who Speak Spanish as a Second Language." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/countries-spanish-second-language-3079181 (accessed June 5, 2023).