The 5 Most Educated Movie Stars in Hollywood

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Acting isn’t a profession that requires a college degree, or even a high school diploma. Yet contrary to “dumb actor” stereotypes, there are a number of stars with advanced degrees. Whether they decided to pursue acting after completing their education, or simply have a passion for learning that they’ve practiced throughout their lives, all of these actors are just as familiar with reading—or writing—academic tomes as they are with memorizing their lines in screenplays.

5 Dolph Lundgren

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Action star Dolph Lundgren is famous for his work in films such as “The Expendables.” One wouldn’t guess from the laconic characters he plays that the Swedish-born actor has a master’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Sydney, or that he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to MIT. While in the United States for academics, he met drama coach Warren Robertson and became interested in acting. He has since starred in more than 50 action films.

4 Ken Jeong

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Probably best-known as the creepy janitor on “Community,” Ken Jeong has also starred in movies like “The Hangover” and “Pineapple Express,” and he’s one of the few actors in Hollywood who is a real-life medical doctor. Jeong was a member of the High IQ team in high school and graduated early at the age of 16. After receiving his undergraduate degree at Duke University, Jeong completed his medical degree at the University of North Carolina and performed his residency at the New Orleans Ochsner Medical Center. It was in New Orleans that Jeong began doing stand-up and eventually decided to pursue comedy in Los Angeles.

3 Ashley Judd

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Ashley Judd has been nominated for two Golden Globes — for her work in “De-Lovely” and “Norma Jean & Marilyn”—and is most well-known for playing tough women in crime thrillers such as “Heat” and “Kiss the Girls.” Like Franco, however, Judd’s not just a pretty face. She studied at the University of Kentucky, where she majored in French and pursued four minors: cultural anthropology, art history, theater and women’s studies. She was also Phi Beta Kappa and a member of the sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma. In 2010 she graduated from Harvard with a master’s degree in public administration, which she hopes to use to help charities and nonprofits.

2 Mayim Bialik

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Anyone who watched the 1990s TV series “Blossom,” the movie “Beaches” or is a fan of the current TV series “The Big Bang Theory” is familiar with Mayim Bialik. What’s less known is that the actress is a real-life scientist with a Ph.D. in neuroscience. Her doctoral dissertation focused on obsessive compulsive disorders among people with Prader-Willi syndrome and how their overactive hypothalamus affects their behavior. Bialik has also written a book about parenting, “Beyond the Sling,” based on her studies about hormones, and designed a middle school curriculum for teaching children about neuroscience.

1 James Franco

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James Franco is known for his work in “127 Hours,” for which he received an Oscar nomination, and for playing Harry Osborn in the Spider-Man series. And although Franco’s been included in the “People” “Sexiest Men Alive” issue, he’s more than just a pretty face: After graduating from the University of California Los Angeles with a bachelor’s degree in English in 2008, he went to New York and enrolled in not one but three graduate programs: Columbia University’s MFA writing program; Brooklyn College’s program for creative writing; and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts for directing. He has since graduated from Columbia and enrolled in a doctoral program at Yale.

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