Actors Who were Learning Russian for Roles and Just Because

Actors Who were Learning Russian for Roles and Just Because
17 July, 2018

After studying Japanese at university, I can say that Russian isn’t the hardest language to learn but it certainly isn’t the easiest either. While French and Spanish are easy for English learners, learning Russian lies somewhere in the middle as a language of medium difficulty. 


What makes learning Russian so complicated?

There are 6 cases to choose from and plug in as you speak and each case comes with a set of endings that change on the end of each word. While this may sound confusing, imagine learning it! Outside of that are the really long words and words which are hard to pronounce.

The good news is that you can do it! Just for some inspiration, here are some others you may know of who learned Russian the hard way just like the rest of us.  


Lord Voldemort or Ralph Fiennes

Ralph FiennesAfter he was defeated by Harry Potter, Ralph Fiennes (who played Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter series) started to prepare for his role in the adaptation of Ivan Turgenev’s play, Две Женжины. He learned Russian and acted out a lovesick Mikhail Alexandrovich Rakitkin.

Surprisingly he learned Russian in just two months and said it was probably not the best decision and also one of the hardest challenges he’s had in his acting career yet. For an English speaking audience and an untrained ear, his Russian would probably be passable but for the Russians, not so much. They ended up voicing over his part in the movie, but Ralph continued his studies and came back to promote the movie, Spectre, in Moscow where he delivered a speech in Russian. The following are some of the most beautiful words from his speech. Listen to the link below to find out more.

“We express our deepest feelings in our culture. Russia has made the world richer in all genres of art. Cinema has great power. Cinema of any country helps us learn about each other, learn more about another world, another soul. It gives us an opportunity to understand each other.”

The actor frequently visits Russia and mentioned that he feels at ease and unjudged here. He is quoted to have said the following about Russia, “God knows people are writing enough articles about what’s wrong with Russia, but if you go there, and have a life shared with other human beings, you realise it’s a different story.”


Robert Downey Jr.Robert Downey Jr.

This is my favorite celeb-turned-Russian-speaker success story. While promoting the premiere of his movie Avengers, Robert studied Russian for 3 hours before going on stage to deliver a speech in Russian to the crowd in Moscow.

Here’s what he said,

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, Russian celebrities and children. On behalf of all of us, we love Russia. Thank you very much!”


Jared Leto

Jared Leto

When Leto took on the role of Vitaly Orlov, brother and accomplice to a Russian arms dealer, he started his journey in Russian. Since then he has visited Russia several times and has even had a Russian girlfriend which he may or may not still be seeing at the time of this article.

Leto says that Russian language is, “ a language to be respected and not played with”.



Kate Beckinsale

Kate Beckinsale

This actress has an ear for languages. Surprisingly, she’s fluent in 4 languages: English, French, German and Russian.

She started studying Russian at a young age and began her journey in middle school. She continued to study French and Russian literature at Oxford University. Below is a short clip of her promoting her movie in Russian. 


If that isn’t enough, here’s another list of celebrities speaking Russian.

If you are feeling inspired and ready to start your journey with learning Russian, contact us at Liden and Denz and find out more about our language programs

Posted by Stacey Watson

Stacey Watson is an American expat who loves uncovering fascinating tidbits of Russian history and discovering new things to do in St. Petersburg.

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