I don't know about you, but I love reading about celebrities. Not the gossip and drama, but about their interesting lives - where they come from, who they are off-camera, and how they came to become the stars that we know and love.
Did you know, for example, that Gene Simmons used to be a grade school teacher (picture that for a second), and that he speaks Hungarian, Hebrew, German and English? Or that Joaquin Phoenix was a child actor, and used to go by the name "Leaf"? Or that Isla Fisher is a trained clown?
Have you ever heard Millie Bobby Brown give an interview and been taken aback to hear that she has an English accent? Or wondered why Kenyan actress and '12 Years A Slave' star Lupita Nyong’o has a Spanish first name?
There's so much more to our favorite celebs than we know, and so much of what makes them interesting and unique stems from the families that raised them, and the places that they were born. And don't let their American accents fool you. You'd be surprised at how many A-list stars don't actually call North America home.
Curious? Then sit back, take a quick break from your day, and learn about all the surprising places these celebrities call home.
25 Natalie Portman - Jerusalem
Oscar-winning actress Natalie Portman was actually born Neta-Lee Hershlag on June 9, 1981 in Jerusalem. Her father is Israeli and her mother is American, and so she holds dual Israeli and American citizenship. Her parents moved to the United States when she was a toddler, and she grew up in Jericho, New York (on Long Island).
Portman has admitted that while she loves the United States, she feels more at home in Jerusalem. She attended a Jewish elementary school, and after graduating from Harvard University with a psychology degree, she moved to Israel where she took graduate courses at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Natalie, who is also an animal rights advocate and an ambassador for Toronto-based charity Free the Children, splits her time between Paris and Los Angeles with her husband, French dancer and choreographer Benjamin Millepied, and their two children.
24 Mila Kunis - Chernivtsi, Ukraine
Mila Kunis was born Milena Markovna Kunis on Aug. 14, 1983 in Chernivtsi, Ukraine (then in the Soviet Union). Her mother, a physics teacher, and father, an engineer, left Ukraine, partly to escape anti-Semitism, and to try to give their children a better life in the United States. They settled down in Los Angeles when Mila was seven.
Days after arriving in the United States, Mila was enrolled in school, and admits that she cried almost every day because she didn't know English, and didn't understand American culture, which she says left her feeling "blind and deaf".
She got her first acting role - a Barbie commercial - at age nine. Six years later, she was cast on That '70s Show after lying about her age (she said she was 18). She's gone on to star in dozens of TV shows and Hollywood movies. Kunis is married to fellow "That '70s Show" alumni Ashton Kutcher. The couple has two children - daughter Wyatt, and son Dimitri.
23 Samaire Armstrong - Tokyo, Japan
TV actress Samaire Rhys Armstrong was born on Oct. 31, 1980 in Tokyo, Japan to a Scottish father and Italian mother. Both of her parents had pretty unique jobs - her mother designed spas for resorts, and her father taught close combat training to soldiers.
Samaire lived in Japan until she was five, when her family moved to Hawaii, before eventually settling down in Sedona, Arizona. She made her television debut in 2000 on Party of Five, and has appeared in The X-Files, Grey's Anatomy, ER and Freaks and Geeks, and has had recurring roles in Dirty Sexy Money, The O.C., Entourage and The Mentalist.
Samaire lives in Los Angeles, and is the mother to a five-year-old son named Calin Armstrong Christopher.
22 Bruce Willis - Idar-Oberstein, West Germany
Bet you didn't know that Bruce Willis' first name is actually Walter. And bet you also didn't know he was born in Germany.
Walter Bruce Willis was born on March 19, 1955 in Idar-Oberstein, West Germany to a German mother and an American father. When Willis was two years old, his father - a soldier - was discharged from the military and moved the family to New Jersey, where he grew up. He fell into acting in high school, in part because the stage was the only place where, ironically, he didn't seem to suffer from a stutter. His big break came after moving to Los Angeles and nabbing a part on Miami Vice. Eventually he moved to film, and the rest is history.
21 Ann Curry - Guam
Journalist and TV personality Ann Curry was born on Nov. 19, 1956 in Guam to an American father and a Japanese mother. Ann's father, a navy sailor, was stationed in Japan after the Second World war, and that's where he met her mother.
Ann spent the first few years of her life in Japan and attended an American school in Nagasaki, before her family moved to the United States, settling in Oregon.
She graduated with a journalism degree from the University of Oregon in 1978, becoming the first female reporter at the TV news station where she landed her first job. Two years later, she had moved up the ranks to anchor, setting the stage for a long career in journalism (mostly with NBC), that now includes two Emmy Awards. Ann Curry lives with her husband and their two children in Connecticut.
20 Emma Watson - Paris, France
Emma Watson may seem (and sound) as British as they come, but to almost everyone's surprise, the famous Harry Potter star was actually born in Paris, France.
The beautiful actress and activist, who was born on April 15, 1990, is the child of British lawyers, and lived in France until she was five. When her parents divorced, the family moved back to England, and Emma split her time between her mother in Oxfordshire and her father in London.
Emma's very first role was the one that would launch her into stardom - Hermione Granger in all eight Harry Potter films. And while she's continued to star in Hollywood movies, its perhaps her advocacy for gender equality and female literacy that is currently bringing her the most fame.
19 Joaquin Phoenix - Río Piedras, Puerto Rico
Once famous for being actor River Phoenix's little brother, Joaquin Phoenix has made a name for himself as a force in Hollywood, a talented musician, and a passionate animal rights activist.
He was born Joaquin Rafael Bottom on Oct. 28, 1974 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the third of five children born to American parents who were adherents of the Children of God religious group. When his parents left the group in the late 1970s, they moved the family to Los Angeles, where they gave up their last name (Bottom) in lieu of "Phoenix", a symbolic gesture to mark the beginning of their new life in California.
It was around this time that all five children were picked up by a talent agency and began acting. Joaquin, who briefly went by the "Leaf", before returning to his given name at 15, immediately made a name for himself as an actor and a musician. He now lives in Los Angeles.
18 Keanu Reeves - Beirut, Lebanon
Canadians (some of them, anyway) are pretty proud of the fact that The Matrix star hails from the Great White North. But Keanu Reeves was actually born in Beirut, Lebanon, to a British mother and an American father of Chinese, Hawaiian and European descent. Fun fact: the name Keanu is Hawaiian, and means "cool breeze over the mountains".Keanu's parents divorced when he was young and he moved around frequently with his mother, living in Australia and New York City before settling down in Toronto when he was seven, and that's where he spent most of his formative years. As such, he considers himself Canadian.
He began acting in school, and made his first big-break in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. Then there was Speed, Bram Stoker's Dracula, and The Matrix, among many others.
17 Vanessa Lachey (Minnillo) - Angeles City, Pampanga, Philippines
Model and actress Vanessa Joy Lachey, a.k.a. Vanessa Minnillo (a.k.a. this author's celebrity girl crush), was born in Angeles City in the Philippines on Nov. 9, 1980.
Her mother is from the Philippines and her father, who served in the Air Force, is American. She moved around frequently as a child, due to her father's career, and at different points in time called Germany, Turkey and Japan, as well as various states around the U.S.A., home. She ended up settling down in South Carolina.
It was there that she won the title of Miss Teen USA in 1998. She went on to become an MTV host as well as a correspondent for Entertainment Tonight. She also hosted a Miss Teen USA pageant and co-hosted the 2007 Miss Universe Pageant. And from there, she caught the acting bug, landing roles in several TV shows, including 30 Rock and Hawaii 5-0.
Vanessa lives in Los Angeles with her husband, former boy band heartthrob Nick Lachey, and their three children.
16 Hugo Weaving - Ibadan, Nigeria
You may not have known this actor's name, but you definitely know his face. Hugo Weaving is an English-Australian actor perhaps best known for playing Agent Smith in The Matrix, as well as Elrond in The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit.
Hugo was born at the University of Ibadan Teaching Hospital in Ibadan, Nigeria, on April 4, 1960. He spent much of his childhood bouncing back and forth between his parents' native England, as well as Australia and South Africa.
He broke into TV in 1984, on the Australian series Bodyline, where he played an English cricket captain. He's got a long line of Hollywood blockbusters under his belt, including 'V for Vendetta' (in which he played V), Hacksaw Ridge, and Cloud Atlas. Hugo Weaving now lives in Australia with his wife, and has two grown children.
15 Isla Fisher - Muscat, Oman
Australian actress Isla Fisher, who's often mistaken for her celebrity doppelganger Amy Adams (who's also on this list, incidentally), was born in Muscat, Oman on Feb. 3, 1976, to Scottish parents.Her father was a banker for the United Nations when she was born, and after leaving Oman, the family moved back to Scotland briefly before settling down in Perth, Western Australia when Isla was six. She caught the acting bug as a teenager, appearing in TV commercials and children's TV shows, and even publishing two teen novels before she had even graduated high school. At 21, she moved to Paris at 21 to study, of all things, pantomime. In 2002, she moved from the small screen and stage to the silver screen, starring in Scooby Doo and catching the attention of American audiences.
Isla Fisher is married to English comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, for whom she converted to Judaism, taking the Hebrew name Ayala. The couple has three children.
14 Martin Lawrence - Frankfurt, Germany
American stand-up comic and writer Martin Fitzgerald Lawrence was born on April 16, 1965 in Frankfurt, West Germany.
Martin is the fourth of six children born to American parents, both of whom were serving in the military and stationed in West Germany when he was born. He was named after Martin Luther King, Jr. and John F. Kennedy.
His parents divorced when he was eight, and Martin spent his teen years in New York and Maryland, where he got into boxing, and even considered pursuing a career in the sport, before an injury sent him on a different path.
The former athlete set his sights on stand-up comedy, eventually earning a spot on Star Search and getting the attention of execs at Columbia Pictures. He landed a couple of acting gigs, and then eventually his own show, 'Martin', and from there, he moved to the big screen. He now lives in L.A. and has three children.
13 Rose McGowan - Florence, Tuscany, Italy
Actress and outspoken #MeToo activist Rose McGowan was born on Sept. 5, 1973 in Florence, Tuscany, Italy to American parents.
Her mother was a writer and her father an artist, and the couple were adherents of the Children of God religion (the same one followed by Joaquin Phoenix's family). As such, Rose spent part of her childhood living some of the group's communes around Europe.
At this time, young Rose began modelling, appearing in Italian magazines including Vogue Bambini. When she was 10, her parents moved back to the United States and the family settled down in Oregon.
Rose moved to Los Angeles at the age of 15, after emancipating herself from her parents, and immediately began finding work as an actress. She's part of the group of women who have accused former Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, and in early 2018 released a memoir called Brave, which tells her story.
12 Freddie Mercury - Stone Town, Zanzibar (Now Tanzania)
Legendary British singer and Queen front man Freddie Mercury was born Farrokh Bulsara on Sept. 5, 1946, in what was then Stone Town in the Sultanate of Zanzibar (now part of Tanzania).
His parents were Parsis from India, and practiced the Zoroastrianism. When Freddie was born, his father was working as a cashier at the British Colonial Office in Zanzibar, but he actually spent most of his formative years in his parents' native India.
It was there - as a student at a British-style boys' school - that he was introduced to and fell in love with music, taking piano lessons as a child, and forming a band called The Hectics as a teenager. At 17, the young musician, who was now calling himself "Freddie", moved to England with his family. He formed Queen in 1970.
Freddie Mercury enjoyed decades of stardom before his life was cut short in November, 1991, when he passed away from pneumonia resulting from AIDS. He was 45.
11 Amy Adams - Vicenza, Italy
American actress Amy Adams - celebrity doppelganger to Isla Fisher - was born on Aug. 20, 1974 in Vicenza, Italy, the middle child of seven kids born to Mormon parents. Her father was stationed at a military complex at the time of her birth, and Amy and her siblings bounced from army base to army base before the family eventually settled down in Colorado.
After leaving the army, her father began a career as professional singer, performing in nightclubs and restaurants. Amy says one of her fondest childhood memories is of drinking Shirley Temples and watching her father perform in restaurants and clubs. After her parents divorced, her mother became a semi-professional body builder.
The family liked to write skits and perform them at home, which lit a spark in Amy (a budding dancer, herself), who eventually discovered musical theatre. After making the transition to Hollywood, Amy has solidified herself as an A-list celebrity and one of the highest-paid actresses in the world. She is married to actor Darren Le Gallo and the couple has a daughter.
10 Dominic Monaghan - Berlin, Germany
Probably best known as Merry from the Lord of the Rings films, British actor Dominic Monaghan was born in Berlin, West Germany to English parents.
The family moved frequently, living also in Dusseldorf, Stuttgart and Munster, before eventually returning to England when Dominic was 11. Certain that he wanted to be an actor from an early age, Dominic began performing on the stage as a child. He made the jump to mainstream TV and film with a leading role in the TV series Lost, as well as roles in X-Men and Lord of the Rings.
An animal and nature lover, Dominic also hosts a nature program called Wild Things With Dominic Monaghan. He has worked for PETA, and even owns a small forest in India. He lives in Los Angeles.
9 Sade - Ibadan, Nigeria
You would never, ever know it by looking at her, but stunning British singer Sade was born in 1959 (you can do the math, but suffice it to say, she looks amazing for her age). She was named Helen Folasade Adu, born in Ibidan, Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria, to a Nigerian father and an English mother. The couple met in London, and moved to Nigeria a few years before Sade was born.
Her parents separated when she was four, and Sade moved to England with her mother and older brother, where they settled in Essex.
Sade began singing backup vocals with a band called Pride, and then set off on a solo career, which garnered attention from record execs. In 1983, Sade signed a contract with Epic Records in New York City, and the rest is history.
Sade lives in the Cotswolds in England. She has one son named Isaak.
8 Glenn Howerton - Japan
'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia' actor and producer Glenn Franklin Howerton III was born on April 13, 1976 in Japan. The son of a fighter pilot (his father), he spent much of his childhood between London and South Korea.
At 10, his family settled down in Alabama, where Glenn got into acting, eventually attending the prestigious Julliard School's Drama Division. He went on to a career in television, including roles in ER, The Mindy Project and Fargo. Glenn is married to fellow actor Jill Latiano, whom he met on the set of 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia'. The couple has two sons.
7 Gene Simmons - Tirat Carmel, Haifa, Israel
Gene Simmons, a.k.a. The Demon, a.k.a. legendary Kiss co-front man, was born Chaim Witz to Hungarian Jewish parents on Aug. 25, 1949 in Tirat Carmel, Haifa, Israel.Gene lived in Israel for the first eight years of his life, and immigrated to New York City with his mother, where he changed his name to Eugene Klein (Klein being his mother's maiden name). At one point, he worked as an assistant to an editor at Vogue, and at another, as an elementary school teacher, but his true passion was - and always had been - music.
He was a member of several bands in the early 1970s before eventually co-founding Kiss with Paul Stanley. Gene Simmons now lives in Los Angeles with Canadian model and actress Shannon Lee Tweed and the couple have two grown children.
6 Eddie Izzard - Colony of Aden, Aden Protectorate (Now Yemen)
Eddie Izzard is a British actor, comedian and self-professed "straight transvestite", famous for his rambling stand-up monologues. He was born on Feb. 7, 1962 in what was then the Colony of Aden (now Yemen) to British parents. At the time of his birth, Eddie's father was working in Aden for British Petroleum. The family eventually moved back to the United Kingdom, and Eddie grew up Wales.
Eddie says that he knew that he wanted to be an actor by the time he was seven, and spent the early part of his career as a street performer around Europe, before moving on to stand-up comedy. He's a master of languages, and has performed in French, Russian, German, Spanish and Arabic.
He has a long list of credits in both British and American film and TV.
5 Millie Bobby Brown - Marbella, Spain
Before she was killing Demogorgons in Hawkins, Indiana (in Netflix's Stranger Things, not in real life), Millie Bobby Brown was born on Feb. 19, 2004 in Marbella, Spain, the third of four children born to English parents. Millie's family moved back to their native England when she was four, and then to Florida four years later.
She made her acting debut at 11 on the TV series 'Once Upon a Time in Wonderland', playing young Alice, and went on to act in several other TV shows, before being cast as Eleven in the sci-fi drama 'Stranger Things', for which she has won several awards, including an Emmy Award.
Millie currently splits her time between London and Atlanta, Georgia.
4 Tommy Lee - Athens, Greece
Mötley Cruë drummer (and ex husband to Canadian bombshell Pamela Anderson) Tommy Lee was born Thomas Lee Bass in Athens, Greece on Oct. 3, 1962.His father was an American soldier, and his mother a Greek former beauty queen. The family moved to California when Tommy was a baby, and he got his first drum at four-years-old, setting the stage for an eventual career in music. He co-founded Mötley Cruë with Nikki Sixx in 1981.
Not without controversy, Tommy Lee has been married several times, including a tumultuous marriage to Pamela Anderson. The couple had two sons together. Of course, rock stars are never just rock stars, no matter how much drama has followed them. Tommy Lee, for example, is an animal rights activist, and an avid supporter of PETA.
3 Lena Headey - Hamilton, Bermuda
English Lena Headey, who plays the ruthless Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones, was born in Hamilton, Bermuda on Oct. 3, 1973. The family moved back to their native England when Lena was five, and she grew up in West Yorkshire. Lena began acting as a teenager, first on stage, and was discovered by a talent agent at a school play, landing her her first big screen role in the 1992 movie Waterland (not to be confused with Waterworld).
Like many celebrities (or most people in general, for that matter), Lena is passionate about animal rights. She has spoken out on behalf of PETA. She has two children - a son named Wylie, and daughter Teddy.
2 Nicki Minaj - Trininad And Tobego
Outspoken and colourful rapper Nicki Minaj was born Onika Tanya Maraj on Dec. 8, 1982 in Saint James, Trinidad and Tobago. Both her parents were gospel singers, so Nicki was perhaps destined for a life of music from the beginning.
Nicki Minaj moved to Queens, New York when she was five, along with her mother and brother, and she was accepted into the LaGuardia High School as a teenager, a school devoted to the arts. After her acting career failed to take off, Minaj turned to music.
Nicki is considered by some in the industry to be one of the most influential female rappers of all time, and was even included in Time's 2016 list of the most influential people in the world. She's still making music and wearing outrageous clothes, and her fans love her for it.
1 Lupita Nyong'o - Mexico City, Mexico
Lupita Amondi Nyong'o was born on March 1, 1983 in Mexico City, the second of six children born to Kenyan parents, and has dual Kenyan and Mexican citizenship. Her name is Spanish, and a diminutive of Guadalupe.
When she was an infant, Lupita and her family moved back to her parents' native Kenya, where her father was a professor at the University of Nairobi. As a student, Nyong'o performed in school plays, and after her graduation moved to the United States to study film and theatre in university, receiving a master's degree from the Yale School of Drama.
It was after graduating that Lupita landed the role of Patsey in '12 Years a Slave', a performance that won her an Academy Award. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Sources: People.com, Urban Daily