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They're internationally famous faces, with incredibly brilliant brains! Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the "Top 10 Smartest Celebrities!"
For this list, we’ve looked at any celebrity with a history of being cleverer than the average person. However, those who’ve achieved fame as a direct result of their cleverness do not qualify. The intelligence of today’s contenders is not what they’re most known for!
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#10: Natalie Portman
A globally admired film star, Natalie Portman is just as academically revered as well! Yes, she’s got an Oscar, a BAFTA, and two Golden Globes… But she’s also a psychology graduate out of Harvard, and she’s fluent in Hebrew! At Harvard, she contributed to a paper entitled; "Frontal lobe activation during object permanence: data from near-infrared spectroscopy"… Which is hard to say, let alone write! Portman once famously said she’d, "rather be smart than a movie star"… As it turns out, she’s doing a seriously good job at being both!
#9: Conan O’Brien
Primarily known as America’s longest-working late-night talk show host, before being a celeb interview supremo, Conan O’Brien was also busy racking up intelligence at Harvard University. An esteemed Literature and History graduate, O’Brien was president of the Harvard Lampoon comedy magazine while he studied. His career as a writer was set out from an even earlier age though… He graduated high school as valedictorian in 1981, having won national awards for a short story of his titled, "To Bury the Living!"
#8: Jodie Foster
A film star with a thing for foreign languages, Jodie Foster actually attended a French-language prep school during childhood. Consistently described as a "gifted child," she could read at the age of three, and is at least competent at most major European languages. In 1985, Foster graduated magna cum laude out of Yale University, despite the fact that she was already a movie star by then! Too often, child stars suffer a well-documented fall from grace… But for Foster, there was less self-inflicted scandal and much more schooling!
#7: Lisa Kudrow
A surprisingly smart celeb given the role she’s most famous for, the real life Lisa Kudrow is very different to her "Phoebe from Friends" alter-ego! While Phoebe Buffay is the definition of "ditzy," Kudrow has a highly academic history! Before starting out as an actor, she worked for eight years on her father’s medical staff, during which time she developed particular expertise in the field of headaches, and why we have them. Her brother is also a neurologist… Perhaps cleverness just comes naturally to the Kudrows!
#6: Rowan Atkinson
An actor who is rumored to have listed his profession as "engineer" on his passport, Rowan Atkinson can do that because he has a Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from Oxford! Which is something that’s almost impossible to believe considering his internationally acclaimed forays into "goofball comedy," most notably as silent slapstick Mr. Bean, and chaotic secret serviceman Johnny English! A frequent political commentator and activist, as well as an automobile enthusiast, it turns out that beneath that famous turkey, there’s a marvelous mind!
Well known for playing the villain, James Woods was anything but bad at school! The Casino, Nixon, and Hercule” actor smashed his SATs, apparently even achieving a perfect 800 on the verbal portion! He enrolled on a Linear Algebra course at UCLA while still in high school, and eventually studied Political Science at MIT. Probably even more impressive than all of that, however, Woods boasts an IQ score in the 180s! Which is almost 50 points higher than the approximate entry level for Mensa!
#4: Mayim Bialik
She plays a neurobiologist on TV, and she has a Ph.D. in neuroscience in real life… Mayim Bialik’s is a "role vs. reality" match unlike anything else in the industry! After gaining fame as a child star on Blossom, Bialik was brought back into the public eye when she starred as super smart Amy Farrah Fowler on the geek comedy TV series, The Big Bang Theory… Just a few years before her debut on the show, Bialik finished her studies, gaining particular note as a specialist on Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in adolescents. It’s no wonder her on-screen brains are so believable!
#3: John Cleese
Widely listed as one of the great comic geniuses of all time, John Cleese was overflowing with more academic artistry as well! A graduate from Downing College, Cambridge, he was instrumental in making the university’s "Footlights Club" a prime breeding ground for British comedy. In terms of his actual studies, Cleese left with a Law degree… But possibly his most important achievement at Cambridge was his befriending Graham Chapman. Beside a group of other highly educated blokes, the duo would go on to pen Monty Python, one of the most surreal success stories ever shown on TV!
#2: Dolph Lundgren
The on-screen epitome of an all action hero, there are considerable brains to back up Dolph Lundgren’s brawn! Best known for playing Russian boxer Ivan Drago in Rocky IV, Lundgren may look a meathead on screen, but he’s actually a Master of Chemical Engineering, graduating from the University of Sydney in 1982! Before that, the Swedish actor had already accumulated a Chemistry degree from Washington State, and a degree in Chemical Engineering from Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Technology! Dolph Lundgren’s intelligence is an international affair!
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Ken Jeong, Former member of a ‘High IQ’ team, licensed physician in California
- Ben Stein, Has worked as a lawyer, professor, speechwriter and economist
- Cindy Crawford, Graduated high school as valedictorian, studied chemical engineering before becoming a model
- Geena Davis, Fluent in Swedish, member of MENSA with an IQ of 140, famed for work in gender studies
- Jon Stewart, Studied chemistry and psychology at college
#1: Brian May
Having earned fame and fortune as lead guitarist in Queen, Brian May attained an Astrophysics Ph.D. from Imperial College London in 2007, after cutting short his original studies in the mid-70s! Since then, he’s co-authored twice with Sir Patrick Moore and Chris Lintott on Bang! – The Complete History of the Universe and The Cosmic Tourist. In 2015, he was also introduced as a science team collaborator at NASA! He’s a specialist in zodiacal dust… Although that’s not what Freddie Mercury was famously referring to!
Do you agree with our list? Which smart celeb did we skip? For more clever top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.