Hollywood is full of talented stars that entertain us with various roles in TV and on film, but did you know that a surprising number of red carpet celebs don’t hail from the USA, and instead from our northern neighbor, Canada? Despite seeming American, some of your favorite famous people, from a lead Grey’s Anatomy actress to a pro-wrestler-turned-action-hero, are in fact Canadian or Canadian-American.
Whether born in Ontario or raised as a Vancouver Canuck fan, these are the celebrities most people forget (or just don’t know) are Canadian.
The Notebook star Rachel McAdams was born in London, Ontario, and studied theater at Toronto’s York University. Before her acting career took off with films such as Mean Girls, Wedding Crashers, and Sherlock Holmes, the actress performed Shakespeare and co-starred in a Canadian TV show called Slings and Arrows.
Actor and comedian Matthew Perry may be well-known for playing Chandler Bing in the New York City-based series Friends, but Perry is actually Canadian-American. Born in Massachusetts, the actor was raised in Ottawa, Ontario, by his mother and became a top-ranked junior tennis player in his youth. Perry moved to LA at age 15 to live with his father, and that’s when his interest in acting took off.
Best known for her role as Dr. Cristina Yang in the hit TV show Grey’s Anatomy, actress Sandra Oh was born to Korean parents in Nepean, Ontario, a suburb of Ottawa. Some of Oh’s more recent projects include starring in the TV shows Killing Eve and The Chair.
Born in Beirut, Lebanon, Reeves was raised in Toronto and played ice hockey in high school, earning the nickname “The Wall” as the team goalie. Moving to Hollywood in the 80s to pursue acting, Reeves’ films include Speed, Point Break, and The Matrix and John Wick franchises.
Cobie Smulders is perhaps best known for playing Canadian news anchor Robin Scherbatsky in the hit TV show How I Met Your Mother, yet many fans forget that Smulders herself was actually born in Vancouver, British Columbia. The actress is also known for her role as Agent Maria Hill in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
From Toronto, Ontario, singer and songwriter Shawn Mendes went viral in his early teens for singing popular song covers on the app Vine. Now a famous musician and performer himself, some of Mendes’ biggest hits include Stitches, In My Blood, and Señorita, a collaboration song with his now girlfriend, singer Camila Cabello.
Before running in slow motion on sunny, sandy beaches, Baywatch star and model Pamela Anderson was born in Ladysmith, British Columbia. Anderson moved to Vancouver during her childhood, and then to LA in the 90s to begin her modeling and acting career.
While wrestler and actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson may be more well-known for his Samoan heritage from his mother, he became a dual Canadian-American citizen in 2009 thanks to his father’s Nova Scotia Canadian heritage. Some of Johnson’s notable roles include The Mummy, Jumanji, and Fast & Furious franchises, as well as the TV show Ballers.
Before her Lost days and starring in The Hobbit films and Ant-Man and the Wasp, actress Evangeline Lilly was born in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta. Lilly was discovered by the Ford modeling agency in her teens and used her modeling money to help pay for tuition at the University of British Columbia. Though not French Canadian, Lilly is fluent in French.
Actor and comedian was born in Toronto, Ontario, and attended French-speaking schools in Toronto growing up. In addition to live-action roles such as Gob Bluth in Arrested Development, Arnett is known for his voice work in BoJack Horseman and The Lego Movie franchise. He also hosts the Lego Masters TV show.
Originally from Mississauga, Ontario, actress and model Shay Mitchell moved to West Vancouver with her family in her early teens. It was there that Mitchell was discovered by an international modeling agency, and later on she would star in TV shows such as Pretty Little Liars, Dollface, and You.
Star, showrunner, and co-creator of the beloved TV show Schitt’s Creek, Canadian actor and producer Dan Levy was born in Toronto, Ontario. Before he found success with Schitt’s Creek (which received four Emmy nominations during its fifth and final season), Levy was co-host of MTV Canada’s MTV Live.
Singer-songwriter Avril Lavigne may seem like a hard rocker from LA, but she was actually born in Belleville, Ontario, and moved to Manhatten in her teens to pursue her music career. Some of Lavigne’s top songs include Girlfriend, Keep Holding On, and Sk8er Boi.
Before his days playing Anakin Skywalker in a galaxy far, far away, actor Hayden Christensen was a kid from Vancouver whose first role was in a Pringles commercial. Since his Star Wars prequel days, Christensen has been in a number of action films, such as Jumper and Takers, and he has also worked as a producer.
Catherine O’ Hara
Actress and comedian Catherine O’Hara was born in Toronto and was one of the original cast members of the hit Canadian sketch show, SCTV. O’Hara later went on to star in movies such as Beetlejuice, Best in Show, and the Home Alone films, as well as recently starring in the TV show Schitt’s Creek.
While his most famous character, Captain James Tiberius Kirk, is from Iowa, Star Trek actor William Shatner is actually from Montréal, Québec. Before his discovery in the 1950s, Shatner worked in theater, performing with the National Repertory Theatre of Ottawa and acting in the Stratford, Ontario Shakespeare Festival.
Despite playing small-town girl Lana Lang in Smallville, actress Kristin Kreuk is from the big Canadian city of Vancouver, British Columbia. Lang got her big acting break with the Canadian teen drama Edgemont, and her work since then has included films such as EuroTrip and starring in the CW show Beauty and the Beast.
Actor and comedian Jim Carrey may play the Grinch from Whoville, but beyond the snowy Mount Crumpit, Carrey is actually from Newmarket, Ontario. After rising to fame as a cast member on the sketch show, In Living Color, Carrey has gone on to star in multiple films, including comedies Dumb and Dumber and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, and more nuanced projects such as The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Carly Rae Jepsen
Singer-songwriter Carly Rae Jepsen is from Mission, British Columbia, and was a final three contestant on the 2003 season of Canadian Idol. In addition to her music career (with hit songs such as Call Me Maybe and Cut to the Feeling), Jepsen voiced Odette in the animated film Leap!, played Frenchie in Grease Live!, and sings the theme song for Fuller House.
Michael J. Fox
Michael J. Fox may have played an all-American teen in both Family Ties and the Back to the Future franchise, but the actor is originally from Edmonton, Alberta. While still acting from time to time and voicing characters such as Stuart Little, Fox is an activist who started the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research in 2000.
Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Alessia Cara was born in Mississauga, Ontario, and grew up in the Toronto suburb of Brampton. Born to Italian parents, Cara speaks fluent Italian herself, and among her most popular songs are hits such as Here, Scars to Your Beautiful, Stay, and Wild Things.
Actor and comedian Eugene Levy is best known for classic American comedies like Best in Show and the American Pie movies, yet he’s originally from Hamilton, Ontario. In addition to starring in other comedy films such as Bringing Down the House and Cheaper By the Dozen 2, Levy is also known for co-creating, co-producing, and co-starring in the hit TV show Schitt’s Creek with his son, Dan Levy.
Céline Dion is known worldwide as a talented and successful singer (who hasn’t cried listening to My Heart Will Go On when they watch Titanic???), yet not everyone knows she’s from the small town of Charlemagne, Québec. In addition to singing in English and her native French, Dion has also sung songs in Spanish, German, and Japanese.
Popular singer-songwriter Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, known professionally as The Weeknd, was born in Toronto, Ontario. In addition to hits songs such as Earned It, Blinding Lights, and Can’t Feel My Face, The Weeknd’s music is featured in various films such as Black Panther and Fifty Shades of Grey. The Weeknd also headlined the Pepsi Superbowl LV Halftime Show in 2021.
Best known for her role as socialite Alexis Rose on the TV show Schitt’s Creek, Emmy-winning actress Annie Murphy is from Ottawa, Ontario, and has worked in theater in Montréal and Toronto. Some of Murphy’s other acting highlights include TV series such as Kevin Can F**k Himself and Netflix’s Russian Doll.
From acting in the Austin Powers and Wayne’s World franchises to voicing everyone’s favorite green ogre in the Shrek movies, actor and comedian Mike Myers is a household name. The former Saturday Night Live cast member is originally from Scarborough, Ontario, and has also acted in a number of non-comedic projects, including films Terminal and Bohemian Rhapsody.
Bulgarian-born actress and People’s Choice Awards winner Nina Dobrev grew up in Toronto, Ontario, with her acting career taking off after appearing in the Canadian teen drama, Degrassi: The Next Generation. Dobrev then went on to star in the hit TV show The Vampire Diaries, as well as other TV series such as Fam and films like Let’s Be Cops and Love Hard.
Businessman and entrepreneur Elon Musk was born in Pretoria, South Africa, though he obtained Canadian citizenship while attending Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. The CEO of both SpaceX and Tesla, Musk is also an American citizen, and his mother, model Maye Musk, is originally from Regina, Saskatchewan.
Actress Emily VanCamp is best known for her role as Emily Thorne in the TV show Revenge, and for playing Sharon Carter, aka Agent 13, within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Born in Port Perry, Ontario, VanCamp initially wanted to be a dancer and attended a professional dance school in Montréal in her teens. VanCamp also became interested in acting during this time, and some of her other acting projects include the TV shows Everwood and The Resident.
Actor, comedian, and producer Seth Rogen was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, and moved to Los Angeles in his teens after placing second at the 1998 Vancouver Amateur Comedy Contest. The following year, Rogan acted on the beloved yet short-lived TV show, Freaks and Geeks, and since then has been in numerous comedies such as Knocked Up, Pineapple Express, and the Neighbors franchise.
Actress Anna Paquin was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and moved to her mother’s home country of New Zealand when she was 4 years old. Winning an Oscar at age 11 for her role in The Piano, Pacquin is also known for playing Rogue in the original X-Men trilogy and Sookie Stackhouse in the HBO series True Blood.
Before his music career took off, rapper, singer, and songwriter Drake was a Toronto-born teen playing Jimmy Brooks on seven seasons of the hit show, Degrassi: The Next Generation. Some of Drake’s hit songs include Hotline Bling and Hold On, We’re Going Home.