British actor Freddie Highmore, who as a child appeared alongside Johnny Depp in ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ and ‘Finding Neverland’, is perhaps the most impressive Spanish speaker on the list. The star of ‘The Good Doctor’ TV series spent a year living in Madrid while he was studying and actually has a Galician grandmother. His Spanish accent, his grammar and spoken sentence construction is practically native.
There are dozens of foreign footballers playing in La Liga who speak Spanish at an almost native level: Frenchman Antoine Griezzman, Belgian Thibaut Cortois, Slovak Jan Oblak. But perhaps the most incredible of all is Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitic, a former Barça player who’s returned to his old club Sevilla. It was in the Andalusian city where Rakitic met his now wife and where he developed a true Sevillian accent, with all the flair and consonant dropping that it’s famed for.
The American actress turned beauty product guru is a fluent Spanish speaker who mostly conjugates her verbs correctly and hardly has any traces of an American accent (she even pronounces c and z in the traditional Castilian way). It all started when as a teenager Paltrow did a year abroad in Talavera de la Reina near Toledo, where she stayed with a Spanish family who she still visits every time she’s in Spain.
You may not have known this, but French superstar Jean Reno’s real name is Juan Moreno y Herrera-Jiménez. Reno was born in the Moroccan city of Casablanca, where his parents fled to from their native Cádiz to escape Franco’s regime. The star of ‘Leon: The Professional’ obviously had a big advantage when it came to learning Spanish, but given that he’s lived most of his life in Morocco and France, his fluency in Spanish is commendable, bar his clear French accent.
Ever since British-born concert pianist James Rhodes moved to Spain in 2017, he’s voiced his love for everything Spanish, including the language. His work spearheading a law to protect children from sexual abuse in Spain earned him the honour of fast-track Spanish citizenship. Rhodes regularly takes to Twitter, tweeting almost entirely in Spanish and demonstrating a thorough understanding of syntax, slang and more. He’s also more than capable of holding his own when speaking castellano.
The late Michael Robinson, a British footballer who became Spain’s most famous TV football pundit, was and still is the perfect example of how the most important factor when learning a language is to immerse oneself in the culture and make mistakes without fear. Having been forced into early retirement due to injury while playing for Osasuna, he took on his new job without prior experience and with far from perfect Spanish. He improved despite holding onto his British accent, learnt Spanish expressions and jokes and laughed at his blunders. No wonder he was known as Spain’s most loved Brit.