• 10 Surprising Celebs Who Are Ivy-League Educated

    Apr 1st, 2009

    Because of the roles they play, or perhaps because it’s easier to reconcile our own mundane lives with the possibility of celebrity by assuming beautiful, talented, rich people can’t also be smart, it’s easy to underestimate the true intelligence of our favorite stars. But whether it makes you feel worse about yourself or not, an Ivy-League education doesn’t lie. These celebrities may have starred in comic book films and comedy TV shows, but they’re also super smart.

    1. David Duchovny: Actor David Duchovny has gone from The X-Files to Californication, and from a seemingly happy marriage to Tea Leoni to a rehab stint for sex addiction. He has been nominated for an Emmy four times, and is a two-time Golden Globe winner, but Duchovny is also a graduate of two Ivy League universities. Raised in New York City, Duchovny attended the elite Collegiate School for Boys, and then enrolled in Princeton University, where he won a college prize from the Academy of American Poets. Duchovny also has a Master’s degree in English literature from Yale University.
    2. Wentworth Miller: Wentworth Miller has penetrating eyes, a pretty-boy face, and probably a killer paycheck. Miller stars as Michael Scofield on the Fox TV show Prison Break, but the British-born, Brooklyn-raised actor started performing in high school with an annual musical production group. After high school, Miller attended Princeton, where he studied English literature and was a member of the a capella group the Princeton Tigertones.
    3. Natalie Portman: Natalie Portman was a famous, successful actress long before her Harvard days, and that’s why it’s no secret that the stunningly gorgeous actress from Long Island is just as smart as she is beautiful and talented. Portman was born in Jerusalem, and when she was three years old, her family moved to Washington, D.C., then Connecticut, and then to Long Island, NY. While in school, Portman appeared in movies like The Professional, Mars Attacks! and Everyone Says I Love You. When Portman joined the cast of the new Star Wars prequel trilogy, she became an international star, while she was still in high school. Portman continued to film the Star Wars films while on breaks from Harvard where she studied psychology. She graduated in 2003, and in 2004, she began graduate work at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In addition to acting in important films like Cold Mountain, V for Vendetta, and Goya’s Ghosts. Portman has also served as a guest lecturer at Columbia University, was named a Ambassador of Hope for FINCA International during a trip to Ecuador, and has supported numerous advocacy groups for animal rights, humanitarian efforts, environmental causes, the Democratic party, and more.
    4. Amanda Peet: Film actress Amanda Peet got her big break after appearing in The Whole Nine Yards and has acted steadily since then, in movies like Something’s Gotta Give, The Ex, The X-Files: I Want to Believe and Syriana. Peet credits an acting class she took at Columbia University with inspiring her to become a professional actress. She graduated from Columbia with a degree in history, and then began appearing in commercials, TV shows and independent films.
    5. Edward Norton: Edward Norton has enjoyed a successful career as an actor, screenwriter and director since the 1990s. His breakout role was Aaron Stampler in Primal Fear, for which he won a Golden Globe and Academy Award nomination. Norton has also acted in Rounders, Fight Club, The Illusionist, The Hulk, and 25th Hour, among other films. Norton acted at summer camp and as a history student at Yale. His friends at school there include Paul Giamatti and Ron Livingston.
    6. Joy Bryant: Joy Bryant is a beautiful model and actress who often shows up on the red carpet, at Fashion Week and at other social events and parties in LA and New York. But she was discovered by a modeling scout when she was a student at Yale University. Bryant dropped out of Yale and has worked for Tommy Hilfiger, RocaWear, and other brands. As an actress, Bryant appeared in Get Rich or Die Tryin, Antwone Fisher, and other films.
    7. Rashida Jones: When Rashida Jones joined the cast of The Office, her character was known as the girl who gave Pam competition for being "the token hot girl" at work. In real life, the beautiful Rashida Jones is the daughter of Quincy Jones and Peggy Lipton, and grew up in Sherman Oaks, CA, where she was a classically trained musician and top student. She was voted "Most Likely to Succeed" in high school, and then went on to Harvard to study law. Instead, Jones turned to theater and music, and even composed the score for one of the annual Hasty Pudding Theatricals performances. Jones graduated from Harvard in 1997 after studying religion and philosophy.
    8. John Krasinski: John Krasinski, better known as Jim from The Office is a very smart, very creative guy. He grew up in Boston, MA, and attended high school with future Office co-star B.J. Novak, with whom he collaborated on theatre projects. After taking a semester off post-graduation, Krasinski attended Brown University and studied playwriting. He graduated from Brown in 2001, and acted in commercials, TV shows and off-Broadway shows. Besides The Office, Krasinski acted in films like Kinsey, Jarhead and Leatherheads. Krasinski’s own project, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, an adaptation of the David Foster Wallace work which Krasinski wrote and directed, will open in 2009.
    9. Famke Janssen: Famke Janssen is a Dutch actress who plays sexy, smart roles in films like the X-Men movies and Golden Eye. In the 1980s, Janssen was a model with Elite Model Management. After working for top brands like Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent, Janssen attended Columbia University, where she studied writing and literature. Despite the success she has enjoyed for more commercial films, Janssen continues to pursue more thoughtful work through films like Turn the River, for which she won the Special Jury Best Actress Award by the Hamptons International Film Festival in 2007. In 2008, Janssen was named a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for Integrity.
    10. Maggie Gyllenhaal: Maggie Gyllenhaal is an indie film actress who, thanks to her role in The Dark Knight, has started receiving broader recognition for her work. Gyllenhaal, who is the sister of actor Jake Gyllenhaal and daughter of Eric Foner, a history professor at Columbia University, began her film acting career when she was just 15. After graduating high school in Los Angeles, she attended Columbia in New York, where she studied literature and Eastern religions. Gyllenhaal graduated in 1999 and then moved to London to study at Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
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