smARTy-pants: Brainiacs in the entertainment industry

(left to right): Eddie Redmayne, Emma Watson, Brooke Shields Image sources:,,
(left to right): Eddie Redmayne, Emma Watson, Brooke Shields Image sources:,,

(left to right): Eddie Redmayne, Emma Watson, Brooke Shields
Image sources:,,


Some people just have everything, don’t they? Good looks, talent, fame and the brains to match all that. And the entertainment industry is filled with these multi-talented, well, talents.

If you checked out my features on Tinseltown’s girls and guys who excel in the looks and books departments, you might have been able to name a few gorgeous faces and their illustrious alma maters that I (almost offensively) left out. Obviously, I couldn’t write about every worthy candidate out there. The article would have been endless. Yes, there are that many brainy beauties in Hollywood.

Whilst doing some cognitive spring-cleaning and rearranging everything in my Mind Palace (yes, Sherlock), I was stunned to find out that the entertainment industry’s brainiacs constituted a long list.

We all know about Ivy Leaguers Emma Watson and Natalie Portman, but did you know that Star Trek co-stars Chris Pine and John Cho both went to Berkeley, that Hollywood beauties Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Connelly attended Stanford, or that 3 of the 4 Pevensie kids from The Chronicles of Narnia went to Oxbridge universities? And these are just a handful of the many impressive celebrities compiled in this post.

So, here it is. Presenting the smARTy-pants (see what I did there?):

Note: Names indicated with a * are also graduates of the most prestigious drama schools in the world.

(The list is organised in alphabetical order by last name)

Name Known for University Major

American universities

Casey Affleck Actor Columbia University Physics, Astronomy and Western Philosophy
Andrew Baldwin Naval Officer; Doctor; The Bachelor (Season 10) Duke University Biology
Elizabeth Banks* Actress University of Pennsylvania Theatre Arts
Angela Bassett* Actress  Yale University African American Studies
David Benioff Screenwriter and Producer | Game of Thrones Dartmouth College  
Candice Bergen Actress University of Pennsylvania  
Julie Bowen Actress | Modern Family Brown University Italian Renaissance Studies
Jesse Bradford Actor | Clockstoppers Columbia University Film
Jordana Brewster Actress | Fast & Furious Yale University English
Dean Cain Actor | Superman Princeton University History
John Cho Actor | Harold & Kumar, Star Trek University of California, Berkeley English
Misha Collins Actor | Supernatural University of Chicago Social Theory
Jennifer Connelly Actress Yale University, transferred to Stanford University English (Yale);
Drama (Stanford)
Anderson Cooper News anchor Yale University Political Science
Brett Dalton* Actor | Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. University of California, Berkeley  
Matt Damon Actor Harvard University English
Claire Danes Actress | Homeland Yale University Psychology
Bruce Dern Actor University of Pennsylvania  
Kara DioGuardi Singer-songwriter; Judge on American Idol Duke University Political Science
David Duchovny Actor | The X-files Princeton University (undergraduate) English Literature
Yale University (postgraduate) English Literature
James Eckhouse Actor |Beverly Hills, 90210 Massachusetts Institute of Technology  
James Franco Actor University of California, Los Angeles (undergraduate) English
Columbia University (postgraduate) Writing (MFA)
Yale University (postgraduate) English (PhD)
New York University (postgraduate) Filmmaking
Jodie Foster Actress Yale University Literature
Matthew Fox Actor | Lost Columbia University Economics
Paul Giamatti* Actor Yale University English
Joseph Gordon-Levitt Actor Columbia University History, Literature and French Poetry
Jake Gyllenhaal Actor Columbia University Eastern Religions and Philosophy
Maggie Gyllenhaal Actress Columbia University Literature and Eastern Religions
Nicholas Hammond Actor | The Sound of Music, The Amazing Spider-Man (TV Series) Princeton University English
Katie Holmes Actress Columbia University  
Famke Janssen Actress Columbia University Creative Writing and Literature
Ken Jeong Actor Duke University  
Rashida Jones Actress | Parks and Recreation Harvard University Religion and Philosophy
Tommy Lee Jones Actor Harvard University English
Ashley Judd Actress Harvard University
Public Administration (MPA)
Mindy Kaling Actress | The Mindy Project, The Office Dartmouth College Playwriting
Ellie Kemper Actress | The Office Princeton University (undergraduate) English
University of Oxford (postgraduate)  
Charlie Korsmo Former child actor | Hook Massachusetts Institute of Technology (undergraduate) Physics
Yale Law School (postgraduate) Law (J.D.)
John Krasinsky Actor | The Office Brown University Theatre Arts
Will Yun Lee Actor University of California, Berkeley Political Science and Ethnic Studies
John Legend Singer University of Pennsylvania English
Dan Lin Film producer Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (undergraduate)  
Harvard Business School MBA
Laura Linney* Actress Brown University  
John Lithgow* Actor Harvard University History and Literature
Ron Livingston Actor | Band of Brothers Yale University Theatre and English
Rachel Maddow Television host Stanford University (undergraduate) Public Policy
Lincoln College, Oxford (postgraduate, Rhodes Scholar) Politics (DPhil)
Wentworth Miller Actor | Prison Break Princeton University English
Frank Morgan Actor | The Wizard of Oz Cornell University  
Tim Blake Nelson* Actor Brown University Classics
Becki Newton Actress | Ugly Betty University of Pennsylvania European History
Alessandro Nivola Actor | Jurassic Park III Yale University English
Edward Norton Actor Yale University History
B. J. Novak Actor | The Office Harvard University English and Spanish Literature
Conan O’Brien Talk show host Harvard University History and Literature
Masi Oka Actor | Heroes Brown University Computer Science and Mathematics
Amanda Peet Actress Columbia University History
Josh Pence Actor Dartmouth College  
David Hyde Pierce Actor | Frasier Yale University English and Theatre Arts
Chris Pine Actor University of California, Berkeley English


Natalie Portman Actress Harvard University Psychology
Mike Posner Singer Duke University Sociology
Christopher Reeve* Actor | Superman Cornell University Theatre
Cameron Russell Model Wellesley College, transferred to Columbia University Economics and Political Science
Brooke Shields Actress Princeton University French Literature
Elizabeth Shue Actress Harvard University Government
Julia Stiles Actress Columbia University English Literature
Dr. Travis Stork Doctor; The Bachelor (Season 8); Host of The Doctors Duke University (undergraduate) Anthropology
University of Virginia (postgraduate) Medicine
Emma Watson Actress | Harry Potter Brown University English Literature
Sigourney Weaver* Actress | Aliens Stanford University English
Brian White Actor Dartmouth College Political Science, Psychology and Theatre Arts
Allison Williams Actress | Girls Yale University English
Reese Witherspoon Actress Stanford University English Literature
James Woods Actor Massachusetts Institute of Technology Political Science
Karl Yune Actor Columbia University Theatre
Rick Yune Actor | Die Another Day Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (postgraduate) MBA

Canadian universities

William Shatner Actor | Star Trek, Boston Legal McGill University Economics
Donald Sutherland* Actor University of Toronto Engineering and Drama

British universities

Gethin Anthony* Actor | Game of Thrones Balliol College, Oxford English Literature
Rowan Atkinson Actor | Mr. Bean The Queen’s College, Oxford
Electrical Engineering (MSc)
Jamie Bamber* Actor | Law & Order: UK, Battlestar Galactica, Band of Brothers St John’s College, Cambridge Italian and French
Kate Beckinsale Actress New College, Oxford French and Russian Literature
Sacha Baron Cohen Actor Christ’s College, Cambridge History
Louise Brealey Actress | Sherlock Girton College, Cambridge History
John Cleese Actor Downing College, Cambridge Law
Lily Cole Model; actress King’s College, Cambridge History of Art
Christian Coulson Actor | Harry Potter Clare College, Cambridge English
Richard Curtis Screenwriter | Notting Hill, Love Actually Christ Church, Oxford English Language and Literature
Hugh Dancy Actor St Peter’s College, Oxford English
Alfred Enoch Actor | Harry Potter, How to Get Away with Murder The Queen’s College, Oxford Portuguese and Spanish
Alice Eve Actress | Star Trek Into Darkness St Catherine’s College, Oxford English
Emilia Fox Actress | The Pianist St Catherine’s College, Oxford English
Stephen Fry Actor Queens’ College, Cambridge English Literature
Ricky Gervais Comedian, actor University College London Philosophy
Hugh Grant Actor New College, Oxford English
Robert Hardy Actor | Harry Potter Magdalen College, Oxford English
Naomie Harris* Actress | James Bond Pembroke College, Cambridge Social and Political Sciences
Georgie Henley Actress | Narnia Clare College, Cambridge English
Tom Hiddleston* Actor Pembroke College, Cambridge Classics
Freddie Highmore Actor | Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Emmanuel College, Cambridge Spanish and Arabic
Tom Hooper Director | The King’s Speech, Les Miserables University College, Oxford English
Mr Hudson Singer St Anne’s College, Oxford English Literature
Mick Jagger Lead singer of The Rolling Stones London School of Economics Business
Skandar Keynes Actor | Narnia Pembroke College, Cambridge Arabic and Middle Eastern History
Rory Kinnear* Actor | James Bond Balliol College, Oxford English
Hugh Laurie Actor Selwyn College, Cambridge Archaeology and Anthropolgy
Harry Lloyd Actor | Game of Thrones Christ Church, Oxford English
Andrew Lloyd Webber Composer Magdalen College, Oxford History
Miriam Margolyes Actress | Harry Potter Newnham College, Cambridge English
Chris Martin Lead singer of Coldplay University College London Greek and Latin
Brian May Lead guitarist of Queen Imperial College London Mathematics and Physics (BSc)
Astrophysics (PhD)
Ian McKellen Actor St Catharine’s College, Cambridge English Literature
Dudley Moore Actor Magdalen College, Oxford Music and Composition
Emily Mortimer Actress Lincoln College, Oxford Russian
Hannah Murray Actress | Game of Thrones Queens’ College, Cambridge English
Christopher Nolan Director University College London English Literature
Michael Palin Actor Brasenose College, Oxford Modern History
Rosamund Pike Actress Wadham College, Oxford English Literature
Anna Popplewell Actress | Narnia Magdalen College, Oxford English Language and Literature
Steven Price Film composer Emmanuel College, Cambridge Music
Eddie Redmayne Actor Trinity College, Cambridge History of Art
Dan Stevens Actor | Downton Abbey Emmanuel College, Cambridge English literature
Freddie Stroma Actor | Harry Potter, Pitch Perfect, UnREAL University College London Neuroscience
Tilda Swinton Actress Murray Edwards College, Cambridge Social and Political Sciences
Emma Thompson Actress Newnham College, Cambridge English
Rachel Weisz Actress Trinity Hall, Cambridge English
Mark Williams Actor | Harry Potter Brasenose College, Oxford  


  1. Well written. May peace be with you 🙂

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