Acting isn’t a profession that comes with a lot of necessary educational experience. As long as you can act in front of a camera and have the charisma that audiences want to see, then you can land an acting job. However, there have been plenty of instances in which actors were overqualified for their on-screen gigs, earning several degrees off the set and exuding an IQ well above the average. Here are five celebrities who you might be surprised to find out actually have genius-level IQs.
When we think of Rowan Atkinson, the first thing that most of us think about is his Mr. Bean character. The character is almost entirely silent, so most people outside of the United Kingdom have never had the chance to even hear Atkinson talk (unless they’ve seen films including “Johnny English”, “Four Weddings and a Funeral” or “Keeping Mum”).
Atkinson is incredibly well-spoken and highly educated, though. Atkinson was a top student during primary school and was accepted into Newcastle University’s electrical engineering program. He continued his education at Oxford before getting more invested into comedy and acting. Part of being Mr. Bean came from his real-life experience as an engineering student. “He was just the person I naturally became when I was denied words to express myself,” he said.
Dolph Lundgren is the ultimate imposing figure in an action movie who doesn’t speak very much. However, when Lundgren does speak, he often has something incredibly smart to say. The Swedish actor has starred in films such as “Rocky IV”, “Masters of the Universe”, and “The Expendables” all while continuing his education.
With an estimated IQ of 160, Lundgren has attended some of the most prestigious universities in the world. At the beginning of his career, Lundgren earned his degree in chemical engineering at the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden. He then went on to earn his master’s in the same field from the University of Sydney, moving to Boston afterward thanks to a full scholarship to MIT.
Sigourney Weaver has been a massive star since the late 1970s when she played the lead role in the film “Alien”, launching an entire franchise in the process. Weaver also went on to star in blockbuster films including “Ghostbusters”, “Avatar”, and many more. Weaver has been nominated for multiple Oscars while also winning a Grammy Award in her illustrious career.
Weaver is one of the many actors who you would expect to have a degree in theater or acting, and she got hers in the form of a master’s from the prestigious Yale University. However, that’s not the only degree that Weaver holds. Weaver was originally a student at Stanford University and focused on English, avoiding the “stuffy” theater department. She received her bachelor’s in English and transferred to Yale thereafter.
James Franco has been a versatile actor throughout much of his career, with a large focus on comedy. Franco got his start on the television series “Freaks and Geeks”, parlaying that into a film career that includes roles in the “Spider-Man” trilogy, “Pineapple Express” and “The Disaster Artist” among others.
Franco comes from a family that had found success in the academic world. His mother wrote children’s books while his father ran his own business. Franco studied hard and, though he ran into some legal problems that teens often do, he had a focus on wanting to be a marine zoologist. After beginning his education at UCLA, Franco attended Columbia where he obtained a master’s degree. He earned another master’s at New York University and then Warren Wilson College before getting his Ph.D. in English at Yale.
When you hear the name Dexter Holland, you might wonder who that is. If we simply said “the lead singer of The Offspring,” you’d know right away. The Offspring enjoyed a bulk of its success throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s thanks to hits like “Pretty Fly For a White Guy”, “The Kids Aren’t Alright”, and “Come Out and Play”. Holland has been the lead singer throughout the group’s history, all while balancing an academic career.
Holland attended the University of Southern California, first earning his bachelor’s degree in biology. He then went on to obtain his master’s degree in molecular biology while adding a Ph.D. to his resume in 2017. He was even able to put his Ph.D. on hold for a while to get back into music, returning to academia to create a doctoral thesis to earn his degree.