The 12 best famous foreign actors in Hollywood

While Hollywood may be the glamorous hub for the world’s most talented actors and actresses, they don’t all start out in sunny LA. In fact, some of the greatest, most talented, and most dreamy are foreign actors, from places well outside US borders. We swoon over their foreign accents, glance wistfully at their magnificent cheekbones, and obsess over their latest films. So who are EF’s favorite famous foreign actors and actresses and what overseas place do we have to thank for them?


famous foreign actor: Javier Bardem

Casa de América/Via Flickr

Javier Bardem- Spain:

This Spaniard, who grew up in The Canary Islands, began acting in the early days of Spanish cinema. After learning English, he started taking on roles in American films. Though best known for his spine-chilling performance in No Country for Old Men, Javier has since shed his weirdo creepy persona to become one of the most handsome men in Hollywood. Seen in the James Bond film, Skyfall recently, Javier continues to act in films while married to the stunning actress and fellow foreign actor, Penelope Cruz.


famous foreign actor: Penelope Cruz

Ana Gremard/Via Flickr

Penélope Cruz- Spain:

Known as “The Spanish Enchantress,” this beauty was born and raised in Madrid, studying dance and theater. She landed several roles on Spanish TV until she became a star in America in the 1990s. Penélope is famous for a number of starring roles in films such as Gothika, Volver, and Vicky Christina Barcelona, for which she won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She has a number of films coming out in the near future, in both Spanish and English.



famous foreign actor: Arnold Schwarzenegger

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Arnold Schwarzenegger- Austria:

Although nowadays his claim to fame is as former governor of California, Austrian-born Arnold Schwarzenegger started his career as a weightlifter and actor. After using his primary superpower, beefiness, to transform himself into a Hollywood star, Arnold appeared in films such as The Terminator (and my personal favorite, Kindergarten Cop). He served as governor of California from 2003-2011 and has now returned to acting.



famous foreign actor: Mila Kunis

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Mila Kunis- Ukraine:

Now one of America’s most beautiful and beloved actresses, Mila Kunis spent the first seven years of her life in Ukraine when it was still under Soviet rule. She moved with her family to Los Angeles to begin her acting career and she earned her breakout role on That 70s Show when she was just 14 years old, propelling her into stardom. Since then, she has grown up in the spotlight starring in films such as Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Black Swan, and Ted. Mila continues to act onscreen and is a symbol of beautiful young Hollywood. Basically, I think she’s perfect.


famous foreign actor: James McAvoy

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James McAvoy- Scotland:

I don’t think it is a matter of opinion that James McAvoy has the most faint-worthy accent in Hollywood. It is an indisputable fact. James McAvoy was raised in Glasgow, Scotland until he moved to London as a young lad to pursue acting. Since then, he has worked on a number of films such as The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Last King of Scotland, Atonement, and X-Men: Days of Future Past.


famous foreign actor: Jackie Chan

Gage Skidmore/Via Flickr

Jackie Chan- Hong Kong:

Starring in the role of Hong Kong’s most beloved film star, Jackie Chan has not only earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but also on the Hong Kong Avenue of Stars. His claim to fame is not only his acting talent but also his incredible abilities as a martial artist and stuntman. Starring in roles such as Rush Hour and Shanghai Knights, Jackie Chan’s bouncy personality and ability to not take himself too seriously is admirable. As he once said, very eloquently, “anyone can be Superman, but nobody can be Jackie Chan.”


famous foreign actor: Colin Farrell

Gage Skidmore/Via Flickr

Colin Farrell- Ireland:

A native of Dublin, Colin Farrell found gold at the end of the rainbow when he was cast in Tigerland, making his mark in Hollywood. He has since played every role under the sun, from hitman to explorer, writer to the greatest military leader in history. Films such as Phone Booth, Daredevil, and In Bruges helped cast him into the limelight.



famous foreign actor: Christian Bale

Asim Bharwani/Via Flickr

Christian Bale- Wales:

Move over Ben Affleck, we’re not done with this Batman just yet. Originally from Wales, Christian Bale has become a prominent award-winning actor for his roles in Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, and The Fighter.




famous foreign actor: Liam Neeson

Karen Seto/Via Flickr

Liam Neeson- Northern Ireland:

Born in County Antrim in Northern Ireland, Liam Neeson has made his way into our hearts as America’s most beloved overprotective father in Taken. He has had a number of legendary roles such as his character in Schindler’s List, one of the Academy’s most respected films. And at 68 years old he isn’t slowing down any time soon; he’s got nearly a dozen potential films in the works.


famous foreign actor: Salma Hayek

Gage Skidmore/Via Flickr

Salma Hayek- Mexico:

One of Hollywood’s most famous foreign actors and stars, began her acting career in Mexico and came to prominence with Hollywood films such as Desperado, Dogma, and Wild Wild West. She received an Academy Award for her role in Frida as Frida Kahlo. More recently, she has taken on role of producer so now we get the pleasure of seeing her both onscreen and off.



famous foreign actor: Nicole Kidman

Eva Rinaldi/Via Flickr

Nicole Kidman- Australia:

Nicole Kidman, our favorite glamazon from down under is not just famous for being taller than her ex-husband, Tom Cruise. In fact, she’s an amazing foreign actor and has been applauded for her roles in films such as Moulin Rouge and Australia. She has a number of films debuting in the near future, including Anchorman: The Legend Continues. Aside from acting and looking like a flawless porcelain doll on the red carpet, Kidman has been an active UNICEF ambassador.


famous foreign actor: Marion Cotillard

Asim Bharwani/Via Flickr

Marion Cotillard- France

Academy-Award winning French actress Marion Cotillard is best known for her roles in major films such as A Good Year, Public Enemies, Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, Midnight in Paris, and the Immigrant but she started out working in French theater.




Editor’s note (2021): This piece has been updated for clarity, accuracy, and relevance.

Rachel Waldmann

Rachel is a Marketing intern with EF Educational Tours and EF Explore America.

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