13 Celebrities Who Are Smart, Or At Least Have Earned Some Especially Impressive Degrees
Hollywood has a reputation from being home to the beautiful and brawny, rather than the brainy (see: Channing Tatum). But behind those good looks and talent are serious smarts that have helped some of our most-beloved stars get where they are today. And we like to give credit where credit is due. Here are 13 triple-threat celebrities who might make you feel like an underachiever, if they weren't so damn charming, too.
Actress Ashley Judd, who returns to the big screen this month in the hugely-anticipated Divergent, earned her master's degree in Public Administration from Harvard in 2010. She was also awarded the Dean’s Scholar Award for her work in the Harvard Law class, Gender Violence: Law and Social Justice.
The Hangover is not the type of movie where you'd expect to see highly-educated actors, and yet, Ken Jeong — who played Mr. Chow in the franchise — is a licensed obstetrician. He earned his medical degree from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill in 1995.
Before Friends, Lisa Kudrow graduated from Vassar College with a bachelor's degree in biology. She worked on her father's research staff for eight years, and earned a credit on scientific study of headaches.
Perennial overachiever James Franco wins at college: at last count, he's participated in six graduate degree programs: creative writing program at the University of Houston, fiction writing at Columbia, filmmaking at NYU, fiction writing at Brooklyn College, poetry at Warren Wilson College, digital media at the Rhode Island School of Design, and— the kicker — English at Yale. James Franco: never too cool for school.
As if Christy Turlington wasn't hot enough, she also got a master’s degree in Public Health from Columbia University in 2010. While she was at school, she made her directorial debut with No Woman No Cry, a film on maternal mortality (which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, naturally).
This one might surprise you: porn star Ron Jeremy has his Master's degree in Special Education from Queens College, and actually taught in the New York area. Guess teaching didn't pay well enough?
Natalie Portman was the first Harvard alum to win an Oscar. Before graduating in 2003, she published at least one scientific paper (and starred in the Star Wars movie franchise). "I'd rather be smart than a movie star," she once told the New York Post.
Before The X-Files and Californication, David Duchovny (a Princeton alum) earned his master's degree in English Literature from Yale University. He also started a PhD program at the university, but ultimately left to focus on acting, for which Showtime thanks him.
In a true case of art imitating life, The Big Bang Theory's Mayim Bialik — who plays a neuroscientist on the geeky show — actually has a PhD in neuroscience from UCLA in 2007. So, that's Dr. Bialik, to you.
And in news that will surprise exactly no one, Meryl Streep — she of the 18 Oscar nominations — earned her master's degree from the Yale School of Drama. Once again, we all bow down.
Bill Cosby is known for being funny (and for his epic sweater choices), but he also has a pretty impressive intellect: In 1972, he earned his master's from the University of Massachusetts, which he followed with a PhD in 1976.
Elizabeth Banks may play ditzy Effie in The Hunger Games, but she actually graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania in 1996. Fun fact: she was actually enrolled as Liz Mitchell.
After retiring from basketball, Shaquille O'Neal — who left Louisiana State University early to go pro — went back to school and earned his bachelor's degree from LSU, his master's from the University of Phoenix, and his PhD from Barry University. You go, Shaq.