Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just possessing great looks that allows you to get through life easier than most. More often than not we really do need to have the brain power to be successful, but of course having the combination of good looks and brains doesn’t hurt either. Nowadays, it seems that most people are under the impression that celebrities generally aren’t that smart, and can we really blame them? With “role models” like Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, Kanye West… Oh, the list could go on and on when it comes to celebrities that seem to only be famous for their looks or for being part of crazy and unimportant antics that end up on every tabloid possible.
However, there are quite a few celebrities who are highly intelligent and deserve a notable mention for their educational backgrounds. You may be surprised to find out that some of your favorite celebrities have high IQ’s and have attended reputable Ivy League schools, and some of them have obtained degrees in different fields of study.
Here is our list of 15 of the smartest celebrities in the world.
15. James Woods
Woods has been impressing fans with his acting abilities for the last three decades now, as well as turning heads for blurting out his opinions for all the world to hear, especially when it comes to politics. Woods has always had an interest in politics, he studied political science at MIT on a scholarship, the actor has an IQ of 184, which puts him in the genius bracket where IQ ratings are concerned. He had a perfect score of 800 on the verbal and 779 on the mathematics part of the pre-SAT.
14. Rashida Jones
Rashida Jones is the daughter of music mogul Quincy Jones and was voted most likely to succeed by her fellow classmates at The Buckley School in California. Two of her classmates were also children of famous people, none other than the two brainiacs Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian. After graduating from high school Jones attended Harvard with the hopes of becoming a lawyer, but ended up switching majors and studying religion and philosophy before graduating from the prestigious university.
13. Sharon Stone
Sharon Stone first caught the attention of her fans in the Sci-Fi film Total Recall, starring opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger. Sharon attended the University of Pennsylvania, where she majored in fine arts and creative writing; incredibly, she was accepted on a scholarship at the young age of 15. She has gone on record in the past talking about having an IQ of 154 and has described herself as “a nerdy, ugly duckling,” during her University days. Looks like those days are well in the past.
12. Hugh Jackman
Hugh Jackman is more than just a hunky Australian actor. Before his acting career took off, the action star graduated with degrees in both communications and journalism from the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia. Jackman is quite well-rounded when it comes to talent. He’s best known for being a film star (particularly everyone’s favorite mutant, Wolverine), but Jackman has also had great success in musical theater and as a television actor, producer, dancer, and singer.
11. Steve Martin
Funny man Steve Martin first started as a writer for Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and is now a writer, singer, actor, and producer. Martin has an IQ of close to 150 and spent some time trying to be accepted into the educational and intelligent group MENSA, later writing about his experience in The New Yorker. Martin is known for his comedic acting but he has also written a wide range of books and many screenplays. He also attended California State University where he studied philosophy.
10. Meryl Streep
Meryl Streep has been nominated for 19 Academy Awards and has won an Oscar three separate times. She is considered one of the greatest Hollywood actresses of our generation, and rightfully so. The more than reputable actress is now a producer with her own production company and has won a number of different awards for her production of films. Streep is a graduate of Yale School of Drama and has clearly used her training throughout her successful acting career.
9. Jordana Brewster
Even though Jordana Brewster made it big starring in the incredibly successful The Fast & the Furious movies, she took a break from acting shortly after and began her studies in English at Yale. Jordana’s grandfather, Kingman Brewster Jr., was the president of Yale from 1963 to 1977, so clearly she had some pressure while at Yale and some big shoes to fill as well. She graduated in ’04 and told People magazine she was a nerd in college. “I was so stressed about getting good grades. I wish I had joined a sorority and had more fun.”
8. Jennifer Connelly
Jennifer Connelly started out at a young age as a model and appeared in newspaper and magazine advertisements before beginning the transition to acting and making it big in Hollywood. Even though Connelly was a beautiful, sought after young model, she never relied heavily on her looks and continued with her studies while modeling. Connelly studied English at Yale for two years and then went on to study drama at Stanford.
7. Famke Janssen
Not just a pretty face, beautiful, Dutch actress Famke Janssen is known best for her role as Jean Gray in the X-Men films and playing opposite Liam Neeson in the Taken trilogy, but she is also an ex-fashion model, screenplay writer and director. Famke also has an impressive educational background. She has spent time studying writing and literature at Columbia University and Amsterdam University and later went on to major in Economics.
6. Julia Stiles
Julia Stiles, unlike some celebrities, didn’t go on to further her education until after she was already famous, so it’s no wonder the young actress had a rough time in her college days. In 2000 Stiles went to Columbia University to continue her studies and finished her bachelor’s degree in English. She ended up winning awards for her studies, and the star also managed to get her piece about feminism published in The Guardian around the same time that her film Mona Lisa Smile came out in 2006.
5. Cindy Crawford
Usually the words extremely intelligent and supermodel, don’t go hand in hand, unless of course your name is Cindy Crawford. She had her first modelling contract back in 1984. In high school, she was the valedictorian and went on to receive a scholarship at Northwestern University where she studied Chemical Engineering, but she quit school to continue her modeling career. As we all know, this was a success, considering that in 1985 she had already appeared in Vogue and later became one of the original Big Six supermodels which also included Claudia Schiffer, Christy Turlington, Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, and Linda Evangelista.
4. Conan O’Brien
It seems as though late night funny man Conan O’Brien has always been comedic, especially in his college days where the school newspaper named him the “pre-eminent jokester.” This title is understandable as he was the president of secret social organization within the university called the Harvard Lampoon which published a comical magazine. Conan majored in Literature and History at Harvard University and graduated magna cum laude in ’85. He wrote a 72 page senior thesis called “The ‘Old Child’ in Faulkner and O’Conner.”
3. David Duchovny
David Duchovny has starred in two of the most popular TV shows, The X- Files and Californication, so it’s no wonder the actor made the right decision to become an actor when he left University after he landed his first acting gig in a beer commercial in ’87. Duchovny had already received degrees from two Ivy league schools; a B.A in English Literature from Princeton and a Master’s in English Literature from Yale. Once when he was on Inside the Actors Studio he mentioned that the name of his unfinished doctoral theses was called ‘ Magic and Technology in Contemporary Poetry and Prose.’
2. James Franco
37-year-old James Franco got his breakout role in 1999 on the TV series Freaks and Geeks, where he played a freak, but in real life James was a mathematical genius and actually interned at the global aerospace company Lockheed Martin. He graduated from UCLA, majored in film making at NYU, he attended Brooklyn College, and Columbia University for fiction writing, and he also studied comparative literature at Yale. Besides acting, he is also a teacher at UCLA, a published author, a producer and a director.
1. Mayim Bialik
Mayim Bialik starred as the nerdy, eccentric pre-teen on NBC’s hit show Blossom in the early ’90s. After the sitcom ended she studied Neuroscience and Hebrew studies at UCLA in 2000. In 2005, she took a step back from her studies and decided to go back into acting. She is now a regular on The Big Bang Theory, where she plays Amy Farrah Fowler, Sheldon Cooper’s love interest. Despite being part of an extremely popular hit TV series, Mayim obtained her PH.D in Neuroscience in 2007.