Ladies and gentlemen, the revenge of the nerds has arrived. After multiple generations of being mocked and shunned, mainstream society seems ready to embrace geeky hobbies, inquisitiveness and general nerdiness in ways that it never has before. A few short decades ago admitting publicly that you were a Dungeon & Dragons aficionado, had an obsession with 19th century Russian literature, collected Star Trek figurines in your spare time, or any other kind of hobby or interest that could be construed as ‘fringe’, ’geeky’ or ‘nerdy’ meant you were a social outcast. Those people were left by the wayside by the cool crowd who just wanted to slam down multiple cans of terrible, watered down beer while listening to AC/DC and cruising around town being generally obnoxious. No disrespect intended to Angus Young and the boys, but your diehard fans are slack-jawed yokels.
Over the past 10 years the culture has snapped back in the opposite direction. The ancestors of the aforementioned neanderthals stopped listening to AC/DC and picked up Nickelback, except now the mainstream mocks them relentlessly for it. Maybe it’s the effect of seeing all these geeky boys become multi-billionaires thanks to their tech skills fuelling multinational corporations. Maybe it’s a byproduct of the internet itself; people with nerdy hobbies got to see how many other people out there felt the same way and were no longer afraid to be upfront with their geekdom. Whatever the reason, the nerd is king of the jungle today.
On the celebrity front there are quite a few big names that you would rightfully expect to indulge in their nerdy side; Seth Rogen, Tina Fey, Vince Vaughn….basically all the good comedians (comedy is a deliciously nerdy industry). However, partially thanks to this new era of nerdiness, a lot of celebrity geeks have started crawling from out of the woodwork. These celebs aren’t the ones you would expect to embrace geekdom, but they’ve done so with open arms all their life.
#10 Megan Fox
Megan Fox is the bombshell actress that was considered to be the sexiest up and coming leading lady at one point, all thanks to her starring roles in Michael Bay’s ‘adaptation’ – nicest way to describe it- of the Transformers series. She then had a very public falling out with Bay, who pulled her from the next film, and decided to take some time to focus on her young family. She hasn’t gone away though, she’s just been biding her time and waiting to re-emerge onto the scene. She’ll be starring in the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, once again playing a part in bringing our late 80s/early 90s childhood heroes to life on the big screen. She’s also a self-confessed Star Wars fangirl and is a big comic book fan.
#9 James Franco
This one is admittedly maybe not all that surprising. Although Franco is mostly known for his roguish good looks, quirkiness and acting chops – the man was nominated for an Academy Award after all – he’s also got a quirky side to him. It makes sense when you consider his entourage of friends. Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Jason Segel; all these guys are well-known geeky comics. Franco is a dedicated writer who has published several short stories and written some well-known opinion pieces for various publications. It’s also well known that Franco decided to continue his acting career while studying at UCLA as an English major, and was even able to take on double the recommended course load while working full time; he graduated with a 3.5 GPA. He’s produced theatrical dance shows, has taught classes on film as a Ph.D student, and is an all-around talented, smart dude.
#8 Asia Carrera
Although not famous by conventional standards, you may have unknowingly stumbled across Asia Carrera late at night while searching through the seedier sections of the internet. Carrera is a well-known (now retired) adult film star who during the 1990s and early 2000s was one of the biggest names in the industry. Forget whatever pre-constructed notion you may have about women who work in adult entertainment, chances are she’s significantly more intelligent and talented than you ever will be. Growing up, Carrera was a musical prodigy on the piano and an overall overachiever. She performed at Carnegie Hall twice before her 15th birthday, won her state’s spelling championship, taught English in Japan at the age of 16 and is a member of Mensa, the international society for high IQ individuals. She’s also a huge fan of playing Unreal Tournament at LAN parties. Does knowing all this make her work even more enjoyable? A gentlemen never tells.
#7 Rosario Dawson
Rosario Dawson is an actress best known for her roles in well-respected geeky movies such as Kids, Sin City, Men in Black II, Death Proof, Clerks II and others. Her star turn came in Sin City, but the actress wasn’t content with simply starring in comic book adaptations on the big screen. No, she loves comics so much that she went ahead and created her own comic book series, Occult Crimes Taskforce. It’s one thing to secretly love graphic novels and that whole aspect of geek culture, but to actually produce your own is taking it way beyond what even the most ardent fans aspire to. Props to you, Rosario Dawson.
#6 Robin Williams
It’s hard to dislike Robin Williams. The jovial actor has been the star of countless classic films, and is an accomplished stand up comedian to boot. What many people never knew was that even during the height of his stardom, Robin Williams was obsessed with video games. He claims to identify himself as a video gamer who’s been involved since the early Nintendo days. To those who believe Williams is just exaggerating to gain acceptance with the newly chic geek crowd, he named his daughter Zelda. Yea, Zelda, after the princess in the The Legend of Zelda series – his favourite games. That’s dedication if I’ve ever seen it.
#5 Natalie Portman
The Israeli-born American actress first came to mainstream attention while starring in the 2nd Star Wars trilogy as Queen Amidala, which is really about as nerdy as it gets. She also starred in the film adaptation of one of the greatest graphic novels ever, V for Vendetta. Her filmography has serious geek cred, but so does the woman herself. Portman went to Harvard, has been published in several scientific journals as a research assistant, and has given speeches on terrorism and counter-terrorism at Columbia. What have you done today?
#4 Stephen Colbert
It probably isn’t that surprising to learn that Stephen Colbert can be a bit of a nerd. I mean, he certainly does look the part at the very least. What most people may not realize is that although Colbert is a bonafide comedy nerd – which is a completely different subspecies of geekdom – he’s also a massive J.R.R. Tolkien fan. That’s right, Stephen Colbert knows his Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit inside and out. When The Hobbit trilogy was announced, Colbert turned his show into a week-long Tolkien-themed program. He also allegedly speaks a bit of the elvish and orcish languages that Tolkien crafted for his universe. As if that didn’t give him enough credibility, Peter Jackson himself claims that Stephen Colbert is the ‘biggest Tolkien nerd I’ve ever met’. High praise indeed.
#3 Dolph Lundgren
Dolph Lundgren is one one of the baddest men on the planet, and isn’t exactly the poster boy for geeks, but dig a little into his personal life and you’d be surprised. The action movie star best known as playing Ivan Drago in Rocky IV and, more recently, for his role in The Expendables series has a masters degree in chemical engineering and a black belt in karate. He speaks 7 languages (Swedish, English, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, and German) and is working on releasing his own brand of vitamins and nutritional supplements. He’s the archetype of the Renaissance Geek; brilliant, but also super jacked and athletic.
#2 Vin Diesel
Vin Diesel is another action movie star who has fully embraced his nerdiness, although not in an academic fashion as Lundgren did. Diesel, known for his roles in The Fast & The Furious, xXx, and Pitch Black, is a massive, uncompromising fan of Dungeons & Dragons. He’s played the beloved RPG all of his life, and even wrote the introduction for the 30th anniversary edition of the game. Diesel is such a D&D connoisseur that he’s even managed to convince his co-stars to pick up the game as well. Apparently he converted none other than Judi Dench into a D&D fan while they were filming a movie together, and the two continue to play games together when they can. I don’t think anyone saw that one coming if they were judging Diesel purely from his image and filmography.
#1 Mila Kunis
That’s right, one of the world’s sexiest women is also one of the world’s sexiest geeks. The That 70s Show and Black Swan star was, at one point, a self-confessed World of Warcraft fanatic. She played under the name Captainpicard – an homage to Star Trek captain Jean-Luc Picard – and wasn’t just a casual gamer. She joined a guild, participated in raids, and spent hundreds of hours on the game just like any other WoW addict. She claims that her friends first got her hooked on Settlers of Catan (an amazing board game), and that that interest eventually snowballed into World of Warcraft. Whatever the reason, we’re eternally grateful that we can count Mila Kunis amongst the ranks of the geeks.