18 Actors Who Are Ivy League Graduates

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It seems unfair that some actors have beauty, big paychecks and brains.Some of these triple-threat celebs have even attended some of the best educational institutions in the country, from Yale to Harvard.

From honours graduates like “Hunger Games” star Elizabeth Banks to multi-taskers like James Franco and John Legend, check out all of the stars who attended prestigious, Ivy League colleges and succeeded in graduating. 

Natalie Portman

John Legend

University of Pennsylvania, 1999.

Legend doesn't just have a soulful voice, he's also super smart. Apparently the singer was offered scholarships to Georgetown, Morehouse College and Harvard but he turned them down to go to Penn.

He studied English with an emphasis in African American literature and he was the president and vocal director for the co-ed a cappella group Counterparts.

Emma Watson

Brown, 2013 (?)

Technically, this 'Harry Potter' breakout star left Brown amidst rumours of bullying, but she has said herself that she is definitely returning to the school.

Watson says she is doing an exchange program at Oxford this year and will return to Providence in 2013 as a senior.

John Krasinski

Brown, 2001.

'The Office' funnyman attended Brown for theatre arts and graduated with honours as a playwright.

Even though he's known as the guy who plays amazing pranks on Dwight from 'The Office', Krasinski still remembers his play-writing roots: he wrote and directed a film called 'Brief Interviews with Hideous Men' which was nominated for the Sundance Festival's Grand Jury Prize.

Amanda Peet

Columbia, 1994.

Amanda Peet graduated from Columbia with a degree in history. But after taking an acting class with legendary acting coach Uta Hagen, she knew she wanted to become an actress.

Conan O'Brien

Harvard, 1985.

Team Coco has a lot to cheer about when it comes to their fearless leader.

O'Brien was valedictorian of his school and attended the Crimson school with a focus on history and literature. The comedian also found time to write for the humour magazine Harvard Lampoon and was even the magazine's president for his sophomore and junior years.

And O'Brien handled his schoolwork really well: he graduated magna cum laude.

Julia Stiles

Columbia, 2005.

Stiles earned a bachelor's in English Literature from Columbia and even won the John Jay Award in 2010 which is given out to five alums by the Columbia College Alumni Association.

Even though she's a successful actor in movies and shows like 'Dexter,' Stiles obviously still has a way with words.

The actress wrote a story for The Guardian about feminism and the 1950s when her film 'Mona Lisa Smile' was being released in 2006.

David Duchovny

Princeton, 1982.

'Californication' star wasn't always just a guy who played sex-addicts and FBI agents who study the paranormal ('The X-Files' anyone?)

Duchovny not only graduated from Princeton with a bachelor's in English Literature, he also went to Yale to work on a Ph.D though that achievement is still not finished.

While at Princeton, the actor was part of the Charter Club which is one of the school's eating clubs.

And Duchovny wrote poetry that was even given an honorable mention college prize from the Academy of American Poets.

Elizabeth Banks

University of Pennsylvania, 1996.

'The Hunger Games' star received a bachelors of arts from Penn and even graduated magna cum laude. While at the university, Banks was a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority.

She met her future husband, author and film producer Max Handelman, at Penn as well.

Paul Giamatti

Yale, 1989 and 1994.

The Oscar-nominated actor loved Yale so much that he went twice.

First, Giamatti received a bachelor's degree in English from the school and during this time, he also dabbled in the underground theatre scene and joined the secret Skull & Bones society.

Then he earned a Master's in Fine Arts from the Yale School of Drama.

Rashida Jones

Harvard, 1997.

Another funny lady with a smart past, Jones was originally hoping to become a lawyer but lost interest after the O.J. Simpson case.

She turned to performing arts where she worked as the music director for the a cappella group the Oppertunes and she was involved in the Hasty Pudding Theatricals and the Harvard Radcliffe Dramatic Club.

But Jones didn't study theatre or art of any kind, she was a student of religion and philosophy.

Edward Norton

Yale, 1991.

The 'Fight Club' and 'The Incredible Hulk' actor attended Yale along with other actors Paul Giamatti and 'Office Space' star Ron Livingston, where the three acted in many shows together.

Norton was a competitive rower and graduated with a B.A. in History.

He later went on to get two Oscar nominations for 'Primal Fear' and 'American History X.' And he dated Salma Hayek. Not bad, Norton.

Elizabeth Shue

Harvard, 2000.

Elizabeth Shue attended both Wellesley College and Harvard before deferring to focus on her acting career.

That actually worked out pretty well for the actress considering she was later nominated for an Oscar for her performance in 'Leaving Las Vegas.'

Once the acting thing cooled off a bit, Shue went back to Harvard to finish her degree in Government.

Now she's coming back to the spotlight slowly but surely with turns in the 2010 horror-comedy Piranha 3D, a starring role on 'CSI' and the new horror 'House at the End of the Street' with 'Hunger Games' star Jennifer Lawrence.

Tommy Lee Jones

Harvard, 1969.

Tommy Lee Jones has some awesome memories from Harvard.

Freshman year, he lived across the hall from Al Gore and as an upperclassman he was roommates with the former Vice President.

He also played in the famous 1968 Harvard vs. Yale football game as an offensive tackle while the team was undefeated.

Even with all of that, he still managed to graduate cum laude with a B.A. in English.

Maggie Gyllenhaal

Columbia, 1999.

Even though she was from a legendary screen family, Maggie Gyllenhaal opted to move to New York and study literature and Eastern religions at Columbia. The actress also studied Royal Academy of Dramatic Art for one year.

Unlike her actor brother Jake, Maggie finished college.

Matthew Fox

Columbia, 1989.

The 'Lost' heartthrob originally had a different career path than acting in mind.

Fox attended Columbia for an Economics degree and he also went the Greek-system route. The actor joined the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity.

Meryl Streep

Yale, 1975.

Is there anything Meryl can't do?

The multi-Oscar-nominated actress got a bachelor's of arts from Vassar College and even enrolled as an exchange student at Dartmouth.

Then she went to the Yale School of Drama for her M.F.A and was a shining acting star even then playing roles in Shakespeare plays to musicals.

No wonder she has 17 Oscar nominations and three wins under her belt.

James Franco

Columbia, 2010, Yale-Current.

In the last few years, Franco has overachieved too much when it comes to education.

The '127 Hours' star graduated from UCLA with an English major and from Columbia with an MFA. He also attended classes at Brooklyn College, NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and Warren Wilson College for poetry in North Carolina.

Now he is trying to get a PhD in English from Yale while writing, directing and acting in several films.

All we can do is wish him good luck.

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