Instagram | @missmayim

7+ Celebs Who Are Basically Geniuses

More often than not, Hollywood gets a bad reputation. But believe it or not, there are a lot of famous faces in the industry who are actually brilliant, and we had no idea!

Lupita Nyong’o

Instagram | @luptianyongo

This is what I imagine Lupita's life plan looked like:

Step 1: Study.

Step 2: Win Oscars.

Nailed it.

Lupita first got a Bachelor of Arts in Film Studies from Hampshire College, then got a Master’s in Acting from Yale School of Drama. You know, for the hell of it.

Geena Davis

Wikimedia Commons

It's possible Geena Davis is one of the smartest celebrities of all time.

She is fluent in Swedish (in addition to English), founded the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, and has an IQ of 140.

Benedict Cumberbatch

You have to be smart to play Sherlock Holmes — that's the law.*

Benedict Cumberbatch studied drama at the University of Manchester. He then studied London Academic of Music and Dramatic Art, where he earned a MA in Classical Acting.

*That is not, in fact, the law.

Nolan Gould

Aka, Luke from Modern Family.

Nolan is so smart that he was invited to join Mensa, the society dedicated to those with IQs in the top two percentile of the population.

So yeah, he's smart smart.

Shaquille O’Neal

Instagram | @shaquilleoneal

Shaq took his education seriously. Even though he left LSU to pursue a career in the NBA, he never stopped studying.

A year after finishing up in the NBA, he earned a Doctorate in Leadership and Education from Barry University. He even refers to himself as Dr. Shaquille O'Neal Ed.D on Instagram.

Kate Beckinsale

Instagram | @katebeckinsale

In addition to being wickedly funny on Instagram, Kate Beckinsale is damn smart.

When she was a teenager, she won the W.H. Smith Young Writer's competition — twice. She studied Russian and French literature at Oxford, as well.

Dolph Lundgren

Instagram | @dolphlundgren

Yes, really. Turns out, Dolph Lundgren has a few degrees under his belt.

His first was a degree in Chemical Engineering from the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden. Next up was a Master's Degree from the University of Sydney. Lastly? He earned a scholarship to MIT.

Emma Watson

Instagram | @emmawatson

Are we really surprised that the woman who made Hermione famous is just as smart as her fictional counterpart?

She attended Brown, where she got a Bachelor's degree in English Literature. She was also appointed a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador in 2011.

Lisa Kudrow

This one is crazy. Lisa Kudrow has a Biology. Yup, Phoebe Buffay not only earned her degree in that field, but participated in an in-depth study of migraines and various other types of headaches.

Allison Williams

Instagram | @aw

Before she became a star on Girls, Allison Williams hit the books — hard.

She studied English and archaeology at Yale, where she joined an improv group. The rest is acting history.

Natalie Portman

I mean, I feel like we all know this one, right?

Natalie Portman has a degree in Psychology from Harvard. As if that's not enough, she speaks six languages: Hebrew, English, German, Spanish, French, and Japanese.

Cindy Crawford

Instagram | @cindycrawford

Being a supermodel was Cindy Crawford's alternate career path. Her first?

Chemical Engineering.

She used the money from her first modeling contract to pay for an education at Northwestern, which she eventually dropped out of to pursue her skyrocketing career.

Mayim Bialik

Instagram | @mayimbialik

She played super smart Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory, but did you know that intelligence carried off-screen, too?

She earned her PhD in neuroscience from UCLA in 2007. That is...intimidating!

John Legend

This just makes sense. John Legend turned down scholarships from Georgetown and Harvard to study English (with a focus on African American literature) at UPenn.

He graduated magna cum laude, because of course he did.

Ashton Kutcher


Um, this is mind-blowing information. Apparently, goofball Ashton Kutcher is pretty damn smart — so smart that he studied biochemical engineering from the University of Iowa.

Of course, his pursuit of science got a little sidetracked by modeling and acting. We can't complain. (Kelso + Jackie 4ever.)

Mindy Kaling

Instagram | @mindykaling

Of course a woman as accomplished as Mindy has the education (and awards) to back herself up.

She studied at Dartmouth, where she switched from Latin to theatre. She won the Eleanor Frost Playwriting Award in 1999, and then multiple Emmys.

Angela Bassett

Angela Basset — who is ageless and has never done anything wrong ever in her life thank you very much — has two degrees from Yale.

Her first was a Bachelor of Arts in African-American studies. The second was a Master of Fine Arts degree.

John Krasinski

Instagram | @johnkrasinski

Of course the man that wrote one of the best horror movies of all time is smart.

John Krasinski studied at Brown, where he took a year off to teach English in Costa Rica.

Ken Jeong

Guys, if Ken Jeong had stayed on his original career path, we never would have had his iconic role in Community.

He has an M.D. from the University of North Carolina, and actually did his residency in New Orleans.

Matt Damon

Matt Damon famously came up with the idea for Goodwill Hunting while at Harvard.

He was taking a playwriting class when he began breaking the idea for the film. He later dropped out to pursue acting, and finished the script with Ben Affleck.

Sigourney Weaver

Wikimedia Commons

Sigourney Weaver (who, like Angela Basset, is also a queen) not only attended Sarah Lawrence, but actually graduated from Stanford with a Bachelor of Arts.

From there, she moved on to Yale, where she earned a Master of Fine Arts, and also my heart.

Edward Norton

Wikimedia Commons

Another Yale alum, Edward Norton attended the prestigious school to study History.

A back injury sent him from the crew team to theatre. After graduation, he didn't take up acting — instead, he consulted for his grandfather's non-profit in Japan.

Leonard Nimoy

I mean, of course Spock was one of the smartest people in Hollywood.

Leonard Nimoy took the time in between Star Trek movies to get his Master’s in Education from Antioch College. He also holds an Honorary Doctorate from the same University for activism in Holocaust remembrance, the arts, and the environment.

Maggie Gyllenhaal

Instagram | @mgyllenhaal

As the eldest, Maggie was the first of the Gyllenhaal siblings to attend Columbia.

She studied English there. Years later, the school honored her with a personal achievement award for her illustrious career.

David Duchovny

The truth is out there — the truth being that David Duchovny is really, really smart, anyway. (I will not apologize for that corny af joke.)

He has an undergraduate degree in English Literature from Princeton, and a Master's of Arts in English Literature degree from Yale.

Okay, Mulder!

Jake Gyllenhaal

Jake followed in Maggie's footsteps and also enrolled at Columbia.

He was studying Eastern religions when his acting career took off. He dropped out after the release of October Sky and never returned.

James Franco

James Franco is a forever student, apparently.

He graduated from UCLA and actually teaches screenwriting there from time to time. He studied cinematography at NYU, fiction at Brooklyn College and Columbia, and comparative literature at Yale.

Rashida Jones

Instagram | @rashidajones

What can't Rashida Jones do?

She studied two wildly different things while at Harvard: comparative religion, and music.

She actually wrote music scores while attending the school. Her degree, however, wound up being in religion.

Conan O’Brien

Instagram | @teamcoco

Of course Conan is smart! But did you know he's Harvard-level smart? And not the "my parents bought my spot here and I have average grades at best" Harvard-smart.

He has a degree in English Literature and graduated magna cum laude. He's a qualified nerd.

Alicia Keys

Instagram | @aliciakeys

Alicia Keys was basically a prodigy. She learned the piano at seven, enrolled at Manhattan's Professional Performing Arts School at 14, and landed herself a scholarship to Harvard at 16.

She dropped out after a few weeks thanks to her music career.