Celebrities with a degree: Did you know the professions of these Hollywood stars?

An acting career can be a coin flip. At times, it takes a lot of luck to achieve fame and fortune. However, many performers wanted to strengthen their future with a university major, either out of a desire for self-improvement, or as insurance if the doors of Hollywood did not open wide enough for them.

Through this article, we’re exploring this fascinating side of some of the biggest Hollywood hot-shots that probably you had no idea that even existed. If motivation is what you need, just give it a look!


The son of nurse Harriet T. Koch and Edwin A. Carell, an electrical engineer, as a child Steve Carell played the piano with other members of his family, and joined a historical reenactment group, which ultimately gave him a taste for acting but also for history.

In 1984 he earned a degree in history from Denison University in Granville, Ohio. At Denison, Carell was a member of Burpee’s Seedy Theatrical Company, an improvisational comedy troupe formed by students, and decided that he would pursue this profession.

Marketing and business administration graduate Kevin Costner

The Bodyguard actor graduated in Business Administration and Marketing from California State University Fullerton (1973-1978). In his youth he was a great athlete, excelling in baseball, basketball, soccer and canoeing: he built a canoe himself and paddled the Missouri River at the age of 18.

He graduated with a degree in business and landed a high-paying job as a marketing director. But that job only lasted thirty days because he met the great British actor Richard Burton on a plane. Costner confessed him that he had always wanted to be an actor. Burton’s response was simple: “To be happy, we must fight for our dreams”. When he got off the plane, Costner quit his job and moved to Hollywood.

Psychologist Natalie Portman

In 1999, while working on the filming of Star Wars, she entered Harvard University to study psychology and obtained her degree in 2003.

In an emotional speech at Harvard, the actress said she preferred to be “intelligent” rather than an actress, talked about her “dark” past and the prejudices she had to face.

“Today I feel like I did when I first came to Harvard in 1999. When I entered I thought I had made a mistake, that I wasn’t smart enough to be here… Every time I opened my mouth, I tried to prove that I wasn’t just a dumb actress. I was afraid that people would assume that because I was famous and therefore not worthy of the intellectual rigor here,” the performer said and confessed that, at the time, she was up for the challenge. “I didn’t care if college was going to ruin my acting career. I’d rather be smart than a movie star.”

Portman also took a few minutes to share with the graduates her “dark years,” as she herself defined them. In this context she explained how difficult it was for her to adapt to the new and competitive life at Harvard but, at the same time, how exciting it was.

“On several occasions, I even burst into tears in meetings with professors,” she revealed to the crowd.

Biologist Lisa Kudrow

The interpreter of the outlandish “Phoebe” in the series Friends attended Portola High School in Tarzana, California and graduated from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, with a degree in biology.

Her father Lee was a physician and worked with him for eight years on an interesting scientific study on the relationship between left-handedness and cluster headache (a type of headache considered one of the most severe headaches).

Neuroscientist Mayim Bialik

She is known for playing “Amy Farrah Fowler” in the TV series The Big Bang Theory and in her childhood for roles as Blossom in the 90′s sitcom. Bialik studied at the University of California UCLA, despite being admitted to other more recognized universities such as Harvard or Yale, to stay close to her parents.

In 2000 she graduated in neuroscience and Judaic and Hebrew studies. In 2007 she obtained her PhD in neuroscience with a thesis focused on the study of the hypothalamus and obsessive-compulsive disorder in Prader-Willi syndrome.

Historian Edward Norton

His maternal grandfather was the famous architect James Wilson Rouse, his father is the prestigious lawyer Edward Mower Norton, so he felt the obligation to finish a university career, which he did by studying history at Yale University.

He also took courses in astronomy, history of oriental and Japanese philosophy (a language he is fluent in), and excelled in rowing competitions that the university itself scheduled (1991). He stated in an interview that he chose to study history because it could serve as a reinforcement in the world of cinema.

Lawyer Gerard Butler

The famous actor of 300 studied law at the University of Glasgow. During his time as a student, he became the president of the university’s law society.

A year before graduating, he took a sabbatical and moved to California for a while. However, despite the excesses of his break, Butler returned to Scotland to finish his degree. During this time he sang in a rock band called Speed and decided he wanted to be an actor, but only after his degree.

Engineer Rowan Atkinson

The British actor and screenwriter, best known for playing the beloved character Mr. Bean and starring in Blackadder and Johnny English, studied at Oxford and Newcastle universities, where he obtained a degree in Electrical Engineering and later obtained a master’s degree at Queen’s College, Oxford, the same college where his father was a student and of which he has been an Honorary Fellow since 2006.

Impressive and motivating at the same time, don’t you think? What other celebrities do you know with university degrees? Tell us about them and don’t forget to spread the word about our content.

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