21 Celebs That Are Actually Really Smart

We are used to seeing these celebrities showing off their skills on the big screen, but they’re so much more than just pretty faces. Many actors are smart – very smart. From Ivy League school graduates, to neuroscientists, here are 21 celebrities who are insanely smart. 

#21. Natalie Portman

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Child star turned into superstar Natalie Portman is not only a very talented actress, but an extremely intelligent lady. She went to Harvard where she received her Artium Baccalaureus degree in Psychology and was a research assistant during her studies. She has been published twice in two scientific journals as a co-author.

Coming up next, another famous beauty who’s unbelievably smart.

#20. Kate Beckinsale

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British bombshell Kate Beckinsale was only six years old when she was reading at an 11-year-old level. She speaks German, Russian and French fluently, and studied French and Russian literature at Oxford University’s New College.

Click on the next slide to see what Fight Club star attended an Ivy League school.

#19. Edward Norton

Photo: Courtesy of Heightline

Norton attended Yale University and got his BA in History. During his time there, he was a competitive rower and also acted in theater. He also speaks some Japanese, which he learned while working with his father to create affordable housing for lower income families. Now we love him even more.

Slide to the next page to see which Harry Potter lead is super smart in real life.

#18. Emma Watson

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Playing Hermione Granger probably wasn’t very difficult for Watson, who actually has a lot in common with the  character. She attended Brown University where she earned her BA in English Literature. She also went to Oxford, and she is now a UN Goodwill Ambassador to further the women’s rights movement. Hermione would be proud!

Guess which famous comedian featured on #17 is actually a doctor

#17. Ken Jeong

Photo: Courtesy of LA Times

The star of The Hangover is a licensed obstetrician who studied in Duke and the University of North Carolina. While studying, he was a doctor by day, and a standup comedian by night. Unbelievable!

Slide to the next page to see what British heartbreaker is also a very smart athlete.

#16. Hugh Grant

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While in high school, Grant played cricket, rugby, and football. He received a scholarship for New College, Oxford, where he studied English Literature. He graduated with a 2:1 honors and had the possibility to get his PhD at the Courtlaud Institute of Art.

Next, a brilliant star with many more talents than just acting.

#15. Rashida Jones

Photo: Courtesy of W Magazine

Rashida attended Harvard to study Law, and took part in many different clubs (Harvard Radcliffe Dramatic Club, the Signet Society, among others). Later, she switched to Philosophy and Religion. She has also written a comic book series, co-wrote screenplays, and has been published in Teen Vogue.

Up next, a Big Bang Theory star who is also super smart in real life.

#14. Jim Parsons

Photo: Courtesy of CBS

Parsons has an impeccable acting career. He went to the University of Houston, where he performed in 17 plays in three years, and helped found the Infernal Bridgeroom Productions. After graduating, he attended the University of San Diego as one of only 7 students to be accepted in a classical theater course.  Kudos, Jim!

Guess which Charlie’s Angel is #13 on our list…

#13. Lucy Liu

Photo: Courtesy of Today

Lucy Liu learned to speak Mandarin fluently at a very young age. She attended an accelerated school in New York, and went straight to college after that. She got a BA in Chinese Language and Culture. She also trained in acting, fine arts, voice, and dance.

Another incredibly smart heartbreaker is coming up next.

#12. James Franco

Photo: Courtesy of Forbes

Franco attended several universities and earned a whopping 7 degrees, while maintaining his acting career. While in UCLA, he was allowed to take 62 credits per quarter (three times the normal amount) and graduated with a 3.5 GPA in just two years. He is currently studying for his PhD in English at Yale. Holy cow.

Next on our list, this famous comedian‘s academic record is no joke.

#11. Mindy Kaling

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Mindy got her BA in Playwriting at Dartmouth, where she also studied Classics and Latin. She was also awarded the Eleanor Frost Playwriting Award while in school. After college, she wrote two books, Amazing.

If you thought we’d only have one Big Bang Theory star on our list, you were wrong.

#10. Mayim Bialik

Photo: Courtesy of AS

Mayim not only plays neuroscientist Amy on The Big Bang Theory, she is one in real life. She was actually accepted by Yale and Harvard, but chose to attend UCLA to be close to home. There, she wrote her PhD dissertation on the Prader-Willis syndrome. Oh, and she’s probably the smartest person in Hollywood.

Another Yale graduate is coming up, don’t miss it!

#9. Jordana Brewster

Photo: Courtesy of US Weekly

Jordana attended the Professional Children’s School, a college prep school for dancers and child actors, before going to Yale. She took her studies very seriously and considers herself a nerd:

“I was so stressed out about getting good grades. I wish I had joined a sorority and had more fun,” Brewster admitted.

Check out the next slide to see which talk show host graduated from Harvard with honors.

#8. Conan O’Brien

Photo: Courtesy of WSJ

Conan went to Harvard to study Literature and History. He graduated magna cum laude, and his senior thesis was a 72-page-long essay on The “Old Child” in Faulkner and O’Connor. Also, he was president of the Harvard Lampoon, a somewhat secret organization that published a humor magazine.

The first musician on our list is coming up on #7.

#7. John Legend

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Legend actually turned down scholarships to Georgetown, Hardvard, and Morehouse College to go to UPenn. He studied African-American Literature and English and was also the president and director of an acappella group. Not only that, but he was also part of not one, but two honor societies. A true legend indeed.

Check out the next slide to see what movie star has a degree in Eastern Religions.

#6. Maggie Gyllenhaal

Photo: Courtesy of New York Festival

Maggie attended Columbia University to study Literature and Eastern Religions. Her thirst for knowledge made her sneak into senior seminars as a freshman. A decade after attending Columbia, she won the John Jay Award for “distinguished professional achievement”. It was clearly well deserved.

But she’s not the only smart one in the family: check #5!

#5. Jake Gyllenhaal

Photo: Courtesy of People

Jake followed in the steps of Maggie and attended Columbia, where he also studied Eastern Religions (but he dropped out to focus on his acting career.) However, he kept up with social issues, and became the Honorary Chair for the New Eyes for The Needy Advisory Board, he is part of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, and has volunteered in juvenile detention centers.

Another Hollywood A-lister is coming up next on our list.

#4. Matt Damon

Photo: Courtesy of Ciudad Magazine

Matt Damon is truly a triple threat: he can act, direct, and is very smart. He attended Hardvard, where he started writing the draft version of Good Will Hunting, one of his most famous movies. Although he had to drop out to focus on acting, he received the Hardvard Arts Medal.

Make sure you don’t miss our Top #3!

#3. Jerry Springer

Photo: Courtesy of Fox News

Believe it or not, Springer has a Law degree from Northwestern University and was a campaign advisor for Robert F. Kennedy. However, his political career failed, which drove him to become a journalist, and he eventually got his own show.

One of the stars of The Office is next on our list. Slide to see who!

#2. John Krasinsky

Photo: Courtesy of Sharp Magazine

Before hitting it big with The Office, John taught English in Costa Rica, and attended Brown University, where he studied Theater Arts. In 2001, he graduated as a playwright and during his time at college, he belonged to a sketch comedy club and coached youth basketball. Is there anything this guy can’t do?!

You won’t believe which celeb is on our #1 spot…

#1. Melania Trump

Photo: Courtesy of ABC News

Since the First Lady chooses to stay out of the spotlight, not many people known that she studied Design and Architecture in a very prestigious university in her native Slovenia, and speaks five languages fluently: English, French, Serbian, German, and of course, Slovene. Impressive!