30 Smartest Celebrities in Hollywood

By on January 2, 2015

Believe it or not, it’s not just looks that get you through life. Sometimes you really do need to have the brains to back it all up in order to be successful. Most people believe that celebrities aren’t smart simply because they’ve never had to show that side of them before. You might be surprised to learn that some of your favourite actors, singers and stars are some of the smartest people going. Just check out some of the following examples if you don’t believe us…

Here are the 30 smartest celebrities in Hollywood!

1- Natalie Portman

Israeli-born Neta-Lee Hershlag, or Natalie Portman as she is perhaps better known, is not only one of the most critically acclaimed actresses of our time, she’s super smart too!

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Back in 2003 she graduated from Harvard with an A.B. degree in the subject of psychology and this has actually given her the title of being the first alum that has ever won a ‘best actress’ Academy Award and not just that, she speaks no fewer than six different languages, and has been published in two different scientific journals.

Beauty and brains – she really could be the full package!

2 – Ashton Kutcher

Although we better know this Hollywood hunk for his role in fils like Just Married and TV shows like Two and a Half Men, he’s actually a lot smarter than you first may have thought. He had anticipated the acceptance into two decent colleges to study the field of Engineering, but sadly rather than going into Purdue or MIT, he dropped out of education when he was 19 years old so that he could pursue his acting career.

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After seeing what he’s achieved in his career so far, that’s probably not a bad choice! He sure has brains to back it all up though.

3 – Emma Watson

This girl is not only one of the greatest celebrity role models for young girls these days, she’s also super smart whether or not you’d choose to believe it. Paris-born (yet English) actress Emma actually recently split her time between further education and her acting career for a few years between 2011 and 2014 and during this time, she studied at Brown University to graduate with an English literature degree, and at Oxford University too. Plus she’s recently become a UN ambassador. How does she find the time to fit it all in?!

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4 – Edward Norton

This screenwriter, actor, film director and producer has shown his smarts with the gleaming career he’s had in the past few years. With a string of awards under his belt like ‘Best Supporting Actor” Golden Globe back in 2006 for the film Primal Fear or the plentiful nominations for Academy Awards, Satellite Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards…. etc, he’s come a long way since his Off-Broadway theatre days.

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He did attend Yale to study history for a while but after a back injury stopped his rowing days while he was there, he decided to take a break and try his hand at acting, something that has clearly been a great decision for him. Since then, he’s become a firm favourite in the charity world and not only worked as an analyst for a while for a nonprofit entrepreneurial organisation, but also became fluent in Japanese, studied and mastered a martial art,  and donated over a million dollars to the Enterprise Foundation which was set up by his grandfather to help with affordable housing.

Smart guy – he certainly invests his money well!

5 – Jodie Foster

Silence of the Lambs actress Jodie Foster not only attended Yale but also studied upper-level French, even going as far as to return to her studies and taking breaks from her acting pursuits. Not just that but even after she took a break from her studies after the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan (John Hinckley, Jr., the man that attempted to kill the then-president, had quite the obsession with the young actress and this caused a whole bunch of undue attention for her) he returned back to schooling to get herself an honorary Doctor with a Fine Arts degree.

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6 – Kate Beckinsale

Underworld beauty is one of the greatest (and hottest) actresses to come out of Britain but it would seem that she’s one of the smartest girlies to come out of the country too! 41 year old London-born Kate was given a reading age of an eleven year old…. when she was just six years old. Not just that but her good background and recent education now means that she speaks a whopping four different languages fluently, and studies at Oxford in both Russian literature, and French! Add fluent German to the mix and you could say this was one smart little cookie! Being beautiful clearly helps too, obviously.

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7 – David Duchovny

X Files star David Duchovny has the pleasure of attending TWO Ivy League schools in his life, and even went as far as to graduate from Princeton University with a B.A. in the subject of English literature. He went on to get his Master’s at Yale university but back in 1987 he booked himself a beer commercial and the rest is pretty much history!

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8 – Lisa Kudrow

Friends star Lisa is not just the beautiful blonde (and slightly bonkers) best friend of Rachel and Monica, she actually started working with her scientist father to help conduct clinical research on… headaches. It might not sound exotic or exciting to us but after publishing her research on the study, and then going on to graduate school, she decided to throw in the towel and follow her dreams of becoming an actress instead. With the popularity and fame that Friends hit, we reckon that was the best decision, don’t you?

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9 – James Franco

He’s not just cute, 36 year old California-born James Franco is a big fan of furthering his education and seems to be picking up college degrees like they are going out of fashion! He didn’t do great in high school but decided to go back and finish his studies later on in his life, later graduating from UCLA, then went into film making at NYU, went to Brooklyn College and Columbia University to further his love of writing and fiction, and even finished a Ph.D at Yale too!

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Hot and smart, who’d have thought?

10 – Quentin Tarantino

Already known as a genius in the world of film making, Quentin Tarantino has always said he’s never been very fond of schooling but despite this, he’s apparently got an IQ of over 160! Just so you have some perspective of what that actually means, that’s about the same as what could be considered as the smartest guy in the world – Stephen Hawking.

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Of course, rather than putting his mind to good use in education, he’s decided to create some of the most classic movies of our time including the Kill Bill films, and even Pulp Fiction!

11 – Ken Jeong

This guy is probably better known for his hilarious roles in movies like The Hangover and the subsequent follow-on films, but believe it or not, this funny guy actually studied medicine and is a licensed obstetrician. That’s cool, right? At least he can fall back on his medical career if he ever gets bored of his acting one.

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12 – Rashida Jones

If you’ve even seen The Social Network, I Love You, Man or The Muppets, you’ll already have an idea of who this beautiful starlet is but not just great in Tinseltown, she’s an intelligent girlie too!

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38 year old daughter of Quincy Jones, Rashida was actually classed as ‘the most likely to succeed’ by her classmates at The Buckley School in California, and actually went to school with both Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton! After her high school days, she went on to study at Harvard University  where she originally wanted to be a lawyer but decided to opt for a different path after the O.J. Simpson trial for murder. She later graduated in 1997 after studying philosophy and religion.

13 – Matt Damon

This guy has got a lot of titles under his belt. He’s not just an actor but a voice actor, a producer, a screenwriter, and even a philanthropist. It was the 1997 film Good Will Hunting that exploded him onto our screens, and his joint screenplay with friend Ben Affleck well and truly put him on the map.

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It was during his time as a student at Harvard that he first hatched up the idea behind the hit movie, and although he dropped out of school once he realised his talents for acting and everything surrounding that, he was still awarded with a very prestigious and sought after Harvard Arts Medal.

14 – Sharon Stone

She’s probably better known for that leg-crossing scene in Basic Instinct but Sharon has shown that there are some brains behind her beauty. As well as reportedly having an IQ of over 150 (just 6 points below that of Quentin Tarantino and Stephen Hawking), it was at the very young age of just fifteen that she was given a scholarship for college where she later studied both the fine arts and creative writing too! This was obviously a decision that worked out very well for her, winning both an Academy Award for her part in the movie Basic Instinct (Best Actress), but also a Golden Globe for her part in Casino too.

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Smart and stunning! Well done Sharon!

15 – Ashley Judd

She’s a well known American actress but that’s not all Ashley Judd is about. California-born Ashely Tyler Ciminella is a political activist and also one of the smartest gals in Hollywood. She bagged herself a mid-career public administration master’s degree when she was studying at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, finishing the degree in just one year rather than two.

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16 – Arnold Schwarzenegger

So he’s been an actor and a political guy, even going as far as becoming the Governor of California but that’s not all he’s known for. Apparently he’s one smart cookie as well as a tough one!

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In school he picked bodybuilding over other sports, and this active background was very much influenced by his active father, but although he’s not well known for his school attributes, he’s apparently got an IQ of almost 135 which is pretty high!

We don’t really know whether he says ‘stupid’ things on purpose, but his public speaking blunders are always a cause for a giggle or two despite how smart we are told he might be.

17 – Hugh Jackman

He’s hot, a hunk and apparently really smart too. When he was studying in Australia as a youngster, he earned himself degrees in both journalism and communication. These days he’s well known for his lovely demeanour and gentlemanly ways over his educational background, but it just goes to show that even the hottest guys have brains too!

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18 – Steve Martin

With an IQ of almost 150, Steve Martin spent a year of his life trying to get into the educational and intelligent group MENSA which he succeeded, and he later wrote about his story for The New Yorker. That’s not all for his educational successes however – although he is well known for an actor, he has written many books, is responsible for a large number of screenplays, majored in philosophy during his time at the California State University and very nearly chose a career path of professor rather than actor. We are certainly glad he did!

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19 – Anne Hathaway

Les Miserables star doesn’t come across as the sharpest knife in the drawer especially with movies like The Princess Diaries where she plays a young, dorky character that again, wasn’t that bright. The wannabe princess appears to be much more than meets the eyes however, and alongside bagging herself a spot on the 50 Most Beautiful People by People magazine back in 2006, she also studied as an English major, and also took part in Women’s Studies before going on to drama schooling.

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20 – Meryl Streep

She’s a formidable woman and you couldn’t possibly forget her upstanding performance in the 2006 movie, The Devil Wears Prada. She’s won no less than THREE Academy Awards and is now considered to be one of the greatest film actors of our time. She’s since branched out into producing and again, has won a whole host of awards for this too, and nominated for many more.

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After finding her interest in acting, she attended Yale School of Drama and has gone from strength to strength from then! She’s one smart cookie and she’s definitely used all the tools at her disposal to get to where she is today.

21 – Jake Gyllenhaal

In fact, number 21 on the list of 30 smartest celebrities in Hollywood is technically two people – Jake and his sister Maggie Gyllenhaal. They both studied at Columbia University and although only one of the siblings finished their education (Maggie), they are both considered to be great students and are both highly intelligent.

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22 – Jordana Brewster

This beautiful starlet actually hid her identity in order to return to schooling and after The Fast & The Furious films went as big as they did, she took her opportunity. She left her acting career behind for a while to study English and Yale University and proclaimed that she was a total geek, wishing she had joined a sorority and had more fun! We are sure there is plenty of time left for all that!

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23 – Kevin Spacey

Believe it or not, Kevin Spacey is actually an actor trained at Julliard, and although he dropped out to follow his Broadway career, he is now one of the biggest advocates for the entertainment business and regular uses his well-known position to help out Netflix from time to time! A great actor, a smart cookie and now with great life decision! That’s someone that has it all figured out, right?

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24 – Jennifer Connelly

Not only did this brown-haired beauty study at both Stanford and Yale, she also has managed to pick up two languages on top of her native tongue. She was a busy model and child actor during her younger years but this didn’t stop her making sure she got the most out of her education, and after studying for two years at Yale on the subject of English, she then went on to Stanford to study drama.

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25 – Colin Firth

He’s hot. That’s the first thing you should know about Colin Firth. The second thing you should know is that this very British actor is actually one of the smartest guys in Hollywood. Did you know, for example, that he actually co-wrote a paper on the field of human brain research? This paper even got published in the Current Biology journal and on top of that, he says that his time in education was some of the best years of his life.

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26 – Famke Janssen

Not just a great actor, this Dutch can also boast of a pretty impressive education background with periods of time spent studying at both universities in Amsterdam and the US. Columbia University is where she first attended to study literature and writing, and after than she then went on to study economics too! Not bad for Liam Neeson’s wife in the Taken films, right?

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27 – Hugh Laurie

Although not well known for his love at school (in fact, he was caught truanting, smoking, and even cheating on tests) he is one intelligent guy and later went on to study at Eton College. Following family tradition, he attended some of the best colleges and schools in the UK and then went on to study anthropology and even archaeology. Smart, right? (Although we knew that already – you can’t be that sarcastic or sure of yourself if you’re not smart!)

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28 – Julia Stiles

When she attended Columbia University in 2000, she had a bit of a tough time, already being a well known actress but despite this, she still continued with her studies. She finished her bachelor’s degree in English and even won awards for her studies. Not just that but she has also been published in The Guardian on a piece about feminism when the film Mona Lisa Smile was being released back in 2006.

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29 – John Krasinski

We know this guy best for being in The Office but he did study at Brown University and for his donor’s thesis, he even wrote a play! It would seem that his theatre studies certainly did him proud, and he’s well on his way to being one of the funniest actors of our time!

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30 – Lily Cole

Not just obtaining herself a first-class degree from Cambridge University, this model / actress from Devon, England was an A-grade student for most of her learning life, even going as far as getting A-levels in five different subjects. She later went on to gain herself a place at Kings College in Cambridge but deferred entry twice, and later on she switcher to History of Art, bagging herself a first after the first year!

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Despite openly admitting to having a tough time settling down when she was at Cambridge, she certainly did well out of it and is now not only considered to be beautiful and a great actress, but a very smart young lady too!

So there you have then – the 30 celebrities that it might surprise you to learn are actually super smart. There goes the common misconception that all you need in order to make it in Hollywood is a pretty face or a nice figure! These days, brains really will see you all the way so remember kids, always take your education seriously and you too could be one of the worlds most critically acclaimed actors or actresses of your time!


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