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VOICE OVER: Patrick Mealey WRITTEN BY: Jordy McKen
The celebrities are smarter than you think! Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we're counting down our picks for the famous faces who have achievements in intellectual pursuits that clash with their public personas or reputations. Our countdown of celebs who are surprisingly smart includes Ashton Kutcher, Edward Norton, Lisa Kudrow, and more!

#10: Ashton Kutcher

Although public opinion has shifted after he wrote a letter in support of Danny Masterson, Kutcher was, for a long time, appreciated for his dopey-yet-loveable roles. Due to being typecast in this way, many got the impression the actor harbored a similar personality in real life. In actuality, Kutcher was very passionate about both acting and education in his yout. He was even expected to receive college scholarships before he was arrested for breaking and entering into his own high school, which nixed that possibility. In spite of this, Kutcher took up residence at the University of Iowa to study biochemical engineering with the goal of helping treat his twin brother’s heart condition. While there, however, a modeling job enticed Kutcher to leave education to pursue that career before transitioning to acting.

#9: Rebel Wilson

Today, she’s known as one of Australia’s biggest comedy exports. With a string of beloved films under her belt, life could’ve been very different for Wilson. As a high-scoring high-schooler, she was part of the debate team that took part in the prestigious Tournament of Minds competition. From there, Wilson joined the University of New South Wales, where she got a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Performance Studies, as well as a Bachelor of Laws. Before joining the university, she had plans to be a practicing lawyer. However, she turned away from the corporate world soon after and, interestingly enough, Wilson credits her early pursuits in the film world to a series of hallucinations from malaria where she saw herself succeeding as an actress. Still, that law training must come in handy during contract negotiations.

#8: Karlie Kloss

After getting her first modeling job at the young age of 14, Kloss’s educational endeavors took a backseat for a few years while she carved out a name for herself on the catwalk. She was already one of the most recognizable supermodels around when she decided to study web development at Flatiron School in 2014. In 2015, while enrolled at the New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, she founded Kode With Klossy. The initiative specializes in teaching computer coding to teenage girls through free camps and workshops. Thousands of youngsters have since graduated from the program. In 2023, it was reported that around 78% of graduates have gone on to take majors or minors in computer science.

#7: Eva Longoria

Known primarily for her acting work with “Desperate Housewives” and now directing with “Flamin’ Hot,” Longoria had a big year in 1998. After all, she won Miss Corpus Christi USA. Equally impressive was graduating from Texas A&M University–Kingsville with a Bachelor of Science in kinesiology, the study of human body movement. After making her name in acting, as well as learning to speak French then Spanish, Longoria went back to school. In 2013, after three years of study, she graduated from California State University, Northridge, with a Master’s degree in Chicano studies. The rightfully proud Longoria titled her thesis, “Success STEMS From Diversity: The Value of Latinas in STEM Careers.”

#6: Edward Norton

Long before all of Hollywood knew his name, Norton attended Yale College. On top of getting a Bachelor of Arts in History and studying Japanese, Norton also competitively rowed. However, a back injury led to him pursuing acting more seriously instead. In 1991, the prospective performer moved to Osaka, Japan, to work as an analyst for his grandfather’s non-profit, Enterprise Community Partners. During his time there, Norton learned the martial arts of aikido and continued his education in the Japanese language. Over the years, Norton has impressed with his knowledge of the language, since it’s notorious as one of the most difficult for English-speaking natives to learn.

#5: Kesha

Rapper, singer, musician, pop diva, rocker. Kesha has been described with plenty of titles over her successful music career. In recent years, she’s been known for her interest in the paranormal. But Kesha was a very enthusiastic student in high school. Not only did she play the trumpet and saxophone for the school marching band, the future chart-topper was a bright button. With a love of math and physics, Kesha got a near-perfect SAT score. After band practice, she reportedly listened to history lectures at Belmont University. With all this, Kesha was offered a scholarship to Barnard College of Columbia University. However, she turned it down to pursue music. In 2024, Kesha dabbled with academia again by teaching a songwriting course at the Esalen Institute.

#4: Cindy Crawford

Supermodels have this unfair reputation that they’re not the sharpest tools in the shed. Well, the legendary Crawford breaks this mold and then some. While she was beginning to make waves in the modeling industry as a teenager, her education was also taking off. Crawford graduated from DeKalb High School as valedictorian. This secured her a scholarship to study chemical engineering at Northwestern University. It was there that she would be made to feel less-than when, during her first calculus lesson, the professor took one look at her and told her she must be in the wrong class. Nevertheless, another opportunity would present itself down the road and Crawford dropped out of Northwestern to pursue modeling. However, in 2016, she returned to academia by attending UCLA Anderson School of Management.

#3: Dexter Holland

Before he was the co-founder and frontman of the punk rock band The Offspring, he was known as Bryan Holland in high school. His affinity for math and other scholarly subjects led to him being valedictorian and nicknamed “Dexter,” as in “poindexter,” which stuck for life. With that passion, Holland went to the University of Southern California to get a Bachelor of Science in biology and then a Master’s in molecular biology. But he stepped away from continuing his education to focus on his band. In the meantime, he learned to be a pilot and completed a ten-day flight around the world in 2004. By 2017, Holland achieved his Ph.D. in molecular biology with a thesis focused on HIV.

#2: David Duchovny

Whether you know him as the aloof Agent Fox Mulder from “The X-Files” or as the messy Hank Moody from “Californication,” you probably didn’t expect Duchovny to have such a propensity for academia. After graduating from high school as head boy, the future multi-Golden Globe winner went to the prestigious Princeton University to get a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, alongside creating award-winning poetry. Duchovny then headed to Yale University to further his education with a Master’s degree. Then he began his Ph.D. thesis titled “Magic and Technology in Contemporary Fiction and Poetry,” which is yet to be finished. But his work did pop up during Duchovny’s cameo in 2021’s “The Chair.” His love of literature also led him to write several novels.

#1: Lisa Kudrow

When she was growing up, the future ditzy and loveable Phoebe Buffay suffered from powerful headaches that seemingly ran in the family. Her father, Lee Kudrow, was a doctor who specialized in treating and researching the condition. This led the “Friends” star to get a degree in biology from Vassar College. Armed with that accreditation, Kudrow worked for her father for 8 years. She even has a credit on the 1994 research paper “Handedness and Headache,” which examined patients suffering from cluster headaches. During this time, Kudrow balanced her drive for science with the internal nudge to follow acting, taking part in comedy troupes before finding her way on screen. In 2010, she returned to Vasser to give a commencement address.

What other celebrities do you know to be discreetly intellectual? Drop their names in the comment section!