Hollywood isn’t exactly known for being book smart. In La La land, being able to nail a dance rehearsal or hit every note in a singing audition counts for a lot more than being able to recite every element in the periodic table.
Many actors and singers don’t even finish high school, let alone attend college. For many superstars, they get a big break before they have time to finish their studies — which either means they finish out their education with a tutor or by homeschooling, like Justin Bieber, or didn’t finish high school altogether. You might be amazed at how many big stars didn’t graduate high school! Jessica Chastain, Ewan McGregor, Emma Stone, Kristin Stewart, and John Travolta are just a few of the many stars that didn’t finish high school.
On the flip side, some celebrities didn’t just graduate high school, they’re pretty brainy all round! Did you know that the following celebrities are super smart?
1. Mayim Bialik
Mayim Bialik is well known for playing the titular character in the hit 90s sitcom Blossom as well as starring in The Big Bang Theory but fans of television may not know about possibly her greatest accomplishment…which was obtaining her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from UCLA. In 2007, Bialik graduated from UCLA with her Ph.D. The title of her dissertation? “Hypothalamic regulation in relation to maladaptive, obsessive-compulsive, affiliative, and satiety behaviors in Prader–Willi syndrome.” Try saying that three times!
2. Natalie Portman
Natalie Portman has an acting career that spans multiple decades and genres. From starring in the mega-blockbuster Star Wars series to winning an Oscar for the spellbinding performance in Black Swan, Natalie Portman has a truly impressive acting career. But had acting not worked out for Natalie, she would surely have found equal success in another field. This intellectual actress graduated from Harvard University in 2003 with a degree in psychology. She’s even been published in several scientific journals.
3. Rashida Jones
Rashida Jones is the daughter of Quincy Jones and Peggy Lipton, although most people know her best as Ann Perkins from Parks and Rec. Although a sitcom star, you may not know that Rashida Jones is actually one of the brainiest celebrities in Tinseltown, and graduated from Harvard University in 1997.
4. Dolph Lundgren
If you’ve watched any of Dolph Lundgren’s famous films, you’d probably assume that he was a bit of a meathead. From starring in Masters of The Universe to Rocky IV, there’s nothing about Dolph that screams “genius”…that is, aside from his Master’s in Chemical Engineering from the University of Sydney. In the early 80s, Lundgren was busy studying hard in Sydney, Australia.
While there, he also worked on his martial arts and fitness. He even earned a European championship title in Kyokushin karate while he studied for his masters. Although he earned a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to attend MIT, Lundgren met the singer Grace Jones and became her boyfriend and bodyguard. At her urging, he went to a few acting auditions…and the rest is history!
5. Dexter Holland
You probably know Dexter Holland as the frontman for the 90s punk rock band, The Offspring. With hit songs like Pretty Fly For A White Guy and Self Esteem, The Offspring were one of the biggest bands of the 90s. Holland once said that studying math was “just as exciting as punk rock.” Indeed, Holland graduated from high school as valedictorian and intended to get a BS in biology. Then in 1994, The Offspring released their album ‘Smash’ and exploded out of Southern California to become one of the biggest bands in the United States.
Despite this, Dexter Holland continued to study for his Master’s Degree in Molecular Biology at USC. The continuing success of the band meant Holland had to suspend his Ph.D., but twenty years later, Holland became a doctoral student at the Laboratory of Viral Oncology and Proteomics Research, at the Keck School of Medicine. While earning his Ph.D. in molecular biology, Dexter Holland co-wrote a paper named the “Identification of Human MicroRNA-Like Sequences Embedded within the Protein-Encoding Genes of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus.”
6. John Legend
John Legend is a singer and songwriter (and husband to the internet’s favorite funny girl Chrissy Teigen) who is one of the few artists to have the noble distinction of being in the EGOT club. EGOT stands for Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony — the world’s most exclusive and hard to win awards. In addition to this, many people don’t know that John Legend is pretty much a genius. As a homeschooled student, John Legend was so ahead of the curve that he graduated high school early. Although Legend had scholarship offers from Harvard, Georgetown University, and Morehouse College, he attended the University of Pennsylvania when he was only sixteen years old! Naturally, he also graduated college early before embarking on his hugely successful singing career.
7. Angela Basset
Angela Basset starred in hit movies like What’s Love Got To Do With It and How Stella Got Her Groove Back. She’s also starred in recent seasons of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story on FX. Before stardom, Basset graduated from her Florida high school and made the National Honor Society. She also attended Yale University and graduated in 1980 with a B.A. in African-American studies. After graduating from Yale, she returned to finish a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Yale School of Drama.
8. Greg Graffin
Greg Graffin is the lead singer in the famous SoCal punk rock band, Bad Religion. The band achieved success in the 90s, and remains one of the best-selling punk rock acts of all time, having sold over five million albums worldwide. You’d think being the lead singer of a successful band would be enough, but Greg Graffin is also a respected scientist and professor. Graffin obtained his bachelor’s and master’s from UCLA before we went on to earn his Ph.D. in Zoology at Cornell University. Eventually, Graffin would return to UCLA, where he taught natural science. He has also returned to teach at Cornell.
Graffin has made such an impact to the world of evolutionary biology, that in 2011, a new type of species of extinct bird from the Lower Cretaceous era was named after Graffin “for his contributions to evolutionary biology, his public out-reach through music, and his inspiration to young scientists around the world.” Graffin also received the Rushdie Award for Cultural Humanism from the Harvard Humanist Chaplaincy in 2008.
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