How Did Bradley Cooper Learn French?

Last December, I took a trip to Paris. I turned on the TV in my hotel room and saw Bradley Cooper being interviewed in French.

Look at that hat. I should’ve known he could speak French.
By Rubenstein (revised version of [CC BY 2.0], Image Source

He was responding to questions in what seemed like fluent French. Since I don’t speak the language myself, I can’t say how good he was. But he spoke quickly and confidently, the interviewer seemed to understand him fine, and he seemed to understand the interviewer as well.

So how did he learn French?

Well, it was kind of a simple progression.

According to an article in People, he was first inspired to learn it as a kid, after watching Chariots of Fire:

“There’s a scene where a guy was speaking French and I thought, ‘Man, that sounds so cool.'”

Cooper went to Georgetown to get an English degree and also studied French. During college, he went to France on an exchange program and lived with a family in Aix-en-Provence for six months.

So, pretty straightforward:

  • He had an interest
  • He took some classes
  • He got six months of in-country, daily exposure

How long did it take him? Can’t say for sure. I’m assuming that he took at least one semester in college, so with the six months in France we can guess that it took him a minimum of a year to become fluent.

But I’ll go out on a limb and say he took at least two semesters in college and probably some classes in high school as well. So it probably took him at least two years – and possibly longer – to get to the point where he was comfortable giving television interviews.

Pretty awesome.  I don’t see why a guy who has looks, money, a dream job, talent, and charm needs to know French too and make the rest of us look that much worse in comparison, but whatever makes him feel better about himself, I guess.

By the way, check out Limitless, which Cooper was in and was pretty awesome.

Also, if you haven’t yet, check out his French interview below. You can read some of it translated here on Oprah’s website.


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  • Rps Jr

    The typical American takes 3-5 years to become truly fluent not including high school classes and almost always including advanced college classes in literature and speech, however the 6 months in France i’m sure finalized it in his tongue and brain. When you can have a dream in your second language that’s when you really know you got it. Spanish could be possible in two years as its basic syntax and structure is probably the most similar to English, French usually takes a bit longer and is probably the most difficult of all the Romantic languages for Americans to master.

    • Ron G.

      Hey, thanks for the comment! I haven’t tackled French myself, but it’s on my language bucket list. I didn’t get the feeling, though, that Bradley Cooper was “truly fluent” as you put it, meaning I doubt he could tackle advanced literature/advanced speaking topics. Not taking away from his accomplishments at all, but I just get the impression that since he was an English major, his goal was to speak French conversationally, not necessarily be able to handle advanced tasks.

      • Rps Jr

        there are some other interviews with him on Youtube. I had no idea, he really seems to be able to say what he wants to say. Have you heard Sandra Bullock speak German? Now thats amazing. She grew up in Germany and i did not know that either.

        • Ron G.

          No, I had no idea she could speak German. I’ll definitely have to check that out. Thanks!

      • Raul

        I went to a French school in Vzla, and became fluent. Bradley Cooper handles advanced literature at a high level. He has an English major as well. It has to do with how much interested in a language you are.

  • dji zzah

    i learnt okay farsi from living iran but mainly afterwards hanging around iranians in my own country australia. i learnt spanish in school and university and found it very easy so now i know 3 languauges though none as well as english of course

  • definitelyspunky

    I’m a Native Speaker from a former French Colony. He has good French. It’s not perfect…though it’s better than Jodie Foster’s…who learned it in the city I immigrated to–and grew up in–down the street from my house. I thought he was French Canadian and always wondered why I could understand him in interviews. Usually, it is really hard for me to understand French Canadians.

  • socrates35

    Natalie Portman speaks a bunch of foreign languages, as does Jodie Foster

  • Raul

    I am fluent in Spanish. It took me 25 years of in-country, daily exposure to get it down pat. Spanish is as difficult as French, it is rich, and the verb conjugation is extremelly complex.