25 American Icons Who Were Never US Citizens

Some of the most popular singers, actors, authors and athletes in American history were not actually born in the U.S. — and many never became U.S. citizens, even if they eventually made America their home. While several of these stars are strongly associated with their native countries, you might be surprised at some of the ones who were born on foreign shores. See which foreign stars have made a big impact on American culture but haven’t gained U.S. citizenship.

Charlie Chaplin

  • Birthplace: London

Charlie Chaplin was a legend in the American motion-picture industry, but he was not American. Born in London in 1889, Chaplin first got cast in American films while traveling the world as part of a pantomime troupe. Although Chaplin ended up living in the U.S. for nearly 40 years, he never became an American citizen, according to the History Channel.

Shania Twain

  • Birthplace: Ontario, Canada

There’s nothing more all-American than country music, but country-pop star Shania Twain is not American herself. Twain was born in Canada and relocated to Nashville, Tennessee, in the early 1990s to record her first album. Although she has spent years in the U.S., she has not become an American citizen.

Keanu Reeves

  • Birthplace: Beirut, Lebanon

As the star of “The Matrix” and the “John Wick” films — not to mention his recent boost in popularity as everyone’s “internet boyfriend” — Keanu Reeves has certainly reached icon status in America. But he’s not actually a U.S. citizen. The actor was born to English and American parents in Beirut, Lebanon, and was raised in Toronto, Canada. Reeves considers himself Canadian and has Canadian citizenship, according to Insider.

Celine Dion

  • Birthplace: Quebec, Canada

Celine Dion is one of the richest celebrities in the world and earned most of her wealth — from both tours and album sales — within the U.S., Forbes reported. A Canadian citizen, Dion has long resided in Las Vegas. She wrapped up a 16-year Vegas residency in June 2019 after 1,141 performances.


Audrey Hepburn

  • Birthplace: Brussels, Belgium

The American Film Institute declared Audrey Hepburn the No. 3 greatest female screen legend of all time. Although Hepburn was wildly popular in America, she was born in Belgium and spent time living in England and the Netherlands while growing up. She made her major American film debut in “Roman Holiday” in 1953 and continued to act in blockbuster films throughout the ’50s and ’60s.

William Shatner

  • Birthplace: Quebec, Canada

William Shatner has been acting for more than 50 years, first making his mark on American culture as Captain James T. Kirk on “Star Trek.” Shatner has appeared on TV screens across the U.S., but the Canadian-born actor is not a U.S. citizen.

Ryan Gosling

  • Birthplace: Ontario, Canada

Hollywood heartthrob Ryan Gosling hails from Canada — and he’s proud of his roots.

“I think it was very helpful to grow up in Canada, or in a small town,” he told Canada’s CBC News during an interview in Los Angeles. “I think if you grow up [in L.A.], it might be hard to remember that there’s a world outside of it.”


Kim Cattrall

  • Birthplace: Liverpool, England

Kim Cattrall is best known for playing New Yorker Samantha Jones on “Sex and the City,” but Cattrall herself is not a U.S. citizen. The actress was born in Liverpool, England, although her family moved to Canada when she was still a baby. She grew up living in both countries and is both a British and Canadian citizen, according to Yahoo! Style.

Henry Cavill

  • Birthplace: Jersey, Channel Islands

It doesn’t get much more American than playing Superman, but Henry Cavill is British, having been born in the Channel Islands, a British Crown Dependency. He’s actually the first foreigner to play the role, according to Time.

Justin Bieber

  • Birthplace: Ontario, Canada

Justin Bieber has had 72 songs appear on the American Billboard Hot 100 chart, but the pop star is not American — and in a 2011 interview, he said had no plans to become a U.S. citizen.

You guys are evil,” he (jokingly) told Rolling Stone. “Canada’s the best country in the world. […] We go to the doctor and we don’t need to worry about paying him, but here, your whole life, you’re broke because of medical bills.”

Neil Young

  • Birthplace: Ontario, Canada

Neil Young is one of the most popular singer-songwriters and performers in rock and roll history and an inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. His single “Heart of Gold” reached No. 1 on the U.S. charts in 1972. He’s also been nominated for 27 Grammy Awards. Young has certainly made an imprint on the American music scene — and has lived in California since the 1960s — but has never become an American citizen.



  • Birthplace: London

British singer-songwriter Adele had America’s biggest-selling album of the year in 2011 with her release of “21” and she’s had four No. 1 songs on the American Billboard Hot 100 chart. The iconic singer’s accolades don’t end there. She’s also won 15 Grammy Awards and was one of the highest-paid celebrities in 2017 with earnings of $69 million, according to Forbes. Adele is truly a star in America, but her citizenship still lies in the U.K.

Russell Crowe

  • Birthplace: Wellington, New Zealand

Russell Crowe made his biggest mark in American cinema as the star of 2000’s “Gladiator,” which was one of the highest-grossing films of the year and earned Crowe an Academy Award. Although you might think of Crowe as an Australian actor, he is actually a citizen of New Zealand. Crowe spent his younger years moving between both countries with his family. He later claimed he applied for Australian citizenship on multiple occasions but was rejected. However, Australia’s Department of Immigration said the actor had never applied, 9 News reported.

Hugh Jackman

  • Birthplace: Sydney

Actor, singer and dancer Hugh Jackman has worn many hats and played many roles over the course of his career, but he is best known for playing Wolverine in the “X-Men” movies. It’s also the role that’s made him most of his money, according to Forbes. Jackman was born in Sydney and still resides in Australia.

Mick Jagger

  • Birthplace: Kent, England

The Rolling Stones’ frontman Mick Jagger is one of the most famous musicians of all time and has had huge success in America. The Stones have had 57 songs on the American Billboard Hot 100 chart, been nominated for 12 Grammy Awards and were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.

Although Jagger is not a U.S. citizen, he has been vocal about his support for the Equal Rights Amendment, stating that he has a vested interest because he has three daughters who are American citizens.

Rachel McAdams

  • Birthplace: Ontario, Canada

As the star of “The Notebook” and “Mean Girls,” Rachel McAdams has really made a name for herself in the U.S. However, she was born and raised in Ontario, Canada, and didn’t move to America until the early 2000s.


Elton John

  • Birthplace: Middlesex, England

Elton John is the third-most successful artist of all time on the American charts behind Madonna and The Beatles, with 67 songs appearing on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. He has been nominated for 11 Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Although Elton is certainly a legend in the American music scene, he remains only a citizen of the U.K.


Nicki Minaj

  • Birthplace: Trinidad and Tobago

Although she was raised in Queens, New York, Nicki Minaj originally came to the U.S. from Trinidad and Tobago. In an Instagram post that Minaj shared in June 2018, she wrote that she “came to this country as an illegal immigrant at 5 years old.” It’s unclear if Minaj has ever officially become a U.S. citizen.

Hugh Laurie

  • Birthplace: Oxfordshire, England

For eight seasons, Hugh Laurie portrayed America’s favorite curmudgeonly doctor on “House,” a role that made him one of the best-paid actors on TV, according to Forbes. Born in the U.K., Laurie remains a British citizen even though he now resides in Los Angeles.


Paul McCartney

  • Birthplace: Liverpool, England

Paul McCartney was already a legend as a member of the Beatles — who still rank as the top-selling musical artists of all time — but he’s also had a successful solo career of his own. McCartney and his bandmates first experienced “Beatlemania” in the U.S. when they touched down in New York in 1964, and the Fab Four have been a part of America’s collective consciousness ever since.

Kate Moss

  • Birthplace: London

British supermodel Kate Moss changed the modeling world when she emerged on the scene in the early 1990s, replacing the glamorous, curvaceous idea of what a model should be with her thin frame and modest height. Her collaboration with American designer Calvin Klein in 1992 shot her to new levels of fame and she’s appeared on hundreds of magazine covers in the years since. Although Moss became a major star stateside, she recently took a long hiatus from the U.S., reportedly due to visa issues. She returned to the U.S. for the first time in nearly a decade in 2018, Harper’s Bazaar reported.

Manny Pacquiao

  • Birthplace: Mindanao, Philippines

Pro boxer Manny Pacquiao made his U.S. fighting debut in 2001 and has gone on to become one of the most famous (and highest-paid) athletes in the sport. His pay-per-view matches have brought in an estimated $1.25 billion in revenue and his 2015 fight against Floyd Mayweather is the best-selling fight in the history of boxing, Forbes reported. Although Pacquiao’s biggest fights usually take place in Las Vegas, he continues to live in his native Philippines, where he has been elected a member of the Senate.

J.K. Rowling

  • Birthplace: Bristol, England

The first “Harry Potter” book was published in the U.S. in 1998 and went on to become one of the best-selling books of all time. The book series was spun off into eight film adaptations and came to life as The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios theme parks. Harry Potter continues to make its mark on American culture, while U.K. citizen Rowling still lives across the pond in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Kiefer Sutherland

  • Birthplace: London

Kiefer Sutherland became hugely popular for his portrayal of Jack Bauer in the TV hit “24.” Fans of the show might be shocked to know that Sutherland is a U.K. native, having been born in England to Canadian actors Donald Sutherland and Shirley Douglas. However, Sutherland doesn’t have an accent because he moved to California shortly after being born. Despite moving to the U.S. at a young age, Sutherland is not an American citizen, according to Canada’s CBC News.

Kate Winslet

  • Birthplace: Berkshire, England

“I’ll never let go, Jack,” might be one of the most iconic movie lines in American cinema, but the actress who uttered it is British. Kate Winslet was born and raised in England and shot to international fame as the star of “Titanic” in 1997. She’s been acting steadily ever since. The U.K. native currently resides in West Sussex, England, according to the U.K.’s Metro.

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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: 25 American Icons Who Were Never US Citizens

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