The latest issue of Details Magazine features a scantily-clad Sofia Vergara as this year's "sexiest—and funniest—woman on television.” The Emmy-nominated star of ABC's hit comedy Modern Family, credits her strong Colombian accent with making her a household name in Hollywood. "Accents are funny," Vergara said. "It sets me apart from the other girls doing comedy. It gives me more—how do you say?—pop-oo-laaarrrity." We couldn’t agree more! Here are 10 Latin stars whose unique accents got Hollywood talking!
Sofia Vergara, 39
Sofia Vergara has now been nominated for two primetime Emmy awards for her role as Colombian wife and mother Gloria Delgado-Pritchett on ABC's hit comedy, Modern Family. Vergara plays a woman married to a much older man (Ed O'Neill), who often mispronounces English words due to her thick accent. For example, Gloria says "old-tomato" instead of "ultimatum," "hair-rings" instead of "earrings," and "coal digger" instead of "gold digger." In the scene below, Gloria's family is poking fun of the way she mispronounces words, and at first Gloria is OK with it, but suddenly, she flips out to great comedic effect!
Desi Arnaz (1936-1982)
Even though the Cuban actor starred on I Love Lucy more than 50 years ago (1951-1957), Desi Arnaz's character Ricky Ricardo often mispronounced English words, much like Sofia Vergara does on Modern Family. (Check out the hilarious clip below to see Lucy (Lucille Ball) correct Ricky's English after every other word)! Because I Love Lucy premiered in the 50s, some TV execs worried that a show about a white woman married to a Latino with a thick accent would not be agreeable to American viewers. Boy were they wrong! Americans quickly realized that Lucy and Ricky were just like any other married couple—they had disagreements, fought, had a hard time understanding one another, and made up after big fights. All Desi's accent did was make those events more humorous!
Ana de la Reguera, 34
Mexican actress Ana de la Reguera has been cast in several big screen movies, including Nacho Libre (2006), with Jack Black, Cop Out (2010) with Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan, and Cowboys & Aliens, which opens Friday and stars Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig, Sam Rockwell and Olivia Wilde. Ana even used her sexy accent to charm Kenny Powers (Danny McBride) on season 2 of the hit HBO comedy, Eastbound & Down! But we absolutely loved her in the funny commercial where she played up her sexy Spanish accent to sell us on the idea that Kahlua is "intriguing." Don't lose the accent, Ana, it's seriously working for you!
Ricardo Montalbán (1920-2009)
Ricardo Montalbán had a strong Spanish accent when he starred in automobile commercials for the Chrysler Cordoba in the mid 1970's, and bragged about the vehicle's "soft Corinthian leather." It was Montalbán's unique accent that made the Chrysler Cordoba seem like such a regal vehicle. But Montalban is best known for his famous role as Mr. Roarke in the television series, Fantasy Island (1977 to 1984). In the late 80s, he continued to lend his distinctive voice to animated films and commercials.
Penelope Cruz, 37
She has one of the thickest accents in Hollywood, but that hasn't stopped Spanish actress Penelope Cruz from becoming one of Hollywood's biggest stars. The talented actress, who for a long time only worked in Spanish, first showed off her thick, sexy accent when she played Mirtha Jung, a drug addict with one hell of a potty mouth in the Johnny Depp drama, Blow (2001). In the scene below, Penelope's character verbally abuses Depp's character, George Jung, while they're driving in a vehicle full of drugs. Penelope's accent is so strong and so wrought with emotion that it makes the scene more intense and dramatic. Cruz has been nominated for three Academy Awards in the last four years, and in 2009, she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Maria Elena, a sexy artist who had a unique way of pronouncing the word "genius" ("geni-o-us") in Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
Javier Bardem, 42
As the artist Juan Antonio in Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008), Javier Bardem walks up to a table where two women: Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) are seated having wine—and even though he doesn't know them—he proposes that they all fly to an exotic location to eat and make love. "Who exactly is going to make love?" Vicky asks, to which Javier casually replies, "Hopefully the three of us," in his sexy Spanish accent. If any other actor on the planet would've delivered that line, it may have sounded creepy, but Javier's accent is so sexy that we forgive him for being so bold. The Spanish actor also used his thick accent to charm Julia Roberts as Felipe in the movie, Eat Pray Love (2010).
Salma Hayek, 44
In 1991, when Salma Hayek moved from Mexico to California to study acting with legendary acting coach, Stella Adler, she had limited fluency in English. However, the Mexican actress's performances in movies like Desperado (1995) and Frida (2002) were so brilliant that no one cared about Salma's accent. In 2003, Hayek told O magazine, "In Mexico, nobody says, 'You speak English with a good accent.' You either speak English or you don't: As long as you can communicate, no one cares. But the word accent became such a big word in my life. And they thought I was crazy in Mexico when I said, 'I'm going to Hollywood.' Nobody thought I could make it." You showed them, Salma!
Antonio Banderas, 50
Sometimes having an accent makes it diffficult for an actor to get a role in Hollywood, but for Spanish actor Antonio Banderas it has been just the opposite throughout his career. Banderas, who has starred in everything from Desperado (1995) to Shrek (2002), says he was surprised when he was offered the role of Puss in Boots in the popular franchise. "I came to this country without speaking the language at all, and suddenly they call me just for the use of my voice in a movie. I couldn't believe it," he said. He also managed to capitalize on his accent as the voice for Nasonex allergy spray.
Rosie Perez, 46
Who doesn't love Rosie's classic Brooklyn accent? The talented Puerto Rican actresses even ampifies her accent at times in movies to add humor to her roles (i.e. White Men Can't Jump). Her breakout role in Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing got everyone talking and proved that it wasn't just the director who saw something special in the petite actress! Perez's unapologetic Nuyorican flavor was an instant hit in Hollywood and has buoyed a great career, but it was her brilliant performance in Fearless (1993)—for which she was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar—that made everyone take her seriously.
Maria Conchita Alonso, 54
The part-Venezuelan, part-Cuban actress was one of the first Latinas to crossover into Hollywood when she made her Hollywood film debut in Moscow on the Hudson (1984). Maria had a thick accent when she was shooting that film, but instead of her accent becoming a liability, audiences embraced it. Many people considered Maria's voice extremely sexy and for a while she set the standard for steretypical Latina accents.