Top 10 Smartest British Celebrities

Credits: Richard Bush Sean Harris
Written by Richard Bush They’re bright and in the limelight. Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’ll be counting down the top 10 Smartest British Celebrities. For this list, we’ll be looking at British celebrities who are of above average intelligence - but are famous for something other than their intellect. So, while renowned scientist Brian Cox doesn't feature today, super-brainy actors do. Special thanks to our user WordToTheWes for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Smartest British Celebrities


They’re bright and in the limelight. Welcome to WatchMojo UK and today we’ll be counting down the top 10 Smartest British Celebrities.

For this list, we’ll be looking at British celebrities who are of above average intelligence - but are famous for something other than their intellect. So, while renowned scientist Brian Cox doesn't feature today, super-brainy actors do.

#10: Emma Watson

She played a know it all in the “Harry Potter” films, but it wasn’t all for show. In fact, it’s well known that whilst filming the wizarding franchise, Watson worked her shooting schedule around her education. From 2011 onwards, she studied at Worcester College, Oxford and at the Ivy League Brown University - earning a bachelor's degree in English literature. Watson also became a UN Women Goodwill ambassador in 2014, and she’s even a certified yoga and meditation teacher.

#9: Colin Firth

Despite his well-rounded accent and scholarly views, it might surprise you that Firth never enjoyed school. Although finding an interest in English literature at sixth form, Firth described his time at school as “boring”, with most of his younger years spent pursuing acting, where he joined the National Youth Theatre and eventually studied at the Drama Centre london. However, his time as a guest editor at BBC Radio 4 saw him credited as a co-author on a paper researching the brain activity of politicians - and he is also fluent in Italian.

#8: Thandie Newton

This actor has had an abundance of notable film and TV roles, but she also belongs to higher education's upper echelons. Studying dance at the Tring Park School for the Performing Arts in her 20s, she went on to attend Downing College, Cambridge, where she graduated in social anthropology. Since then she has been involved in numerous charity works with the likes of the NSPCC and Greenpeace.

#7: Sacha Baron Cohen

It’s difficult to take this guy seriously - especially considering that before 2004, he only ever did interviews in character. But beneath his committed, comedic facade is a very intelligent chap. Studying at Christ’s College Cambridge, he graduated with an upper-second-class honours in History. Whilst at University, he also performed as part of the Amateur Dramatic Club, in performances such as “Fiddler on the Roof”. And, contrary to what some of his character personas would have you believe, he was raised Jewish, meaning he is fluent in Hebrew.

#6: Hugh Laurie

Known for his portrayal of intelligent, and not-so-intelligent characters, Hugh Laurie has an interesting educational history. Attending Eton College and later Selwyn College, Cambridge, Laurie studied archaeology and anthropology, but particularly excelled in the rowing team. However, due to illness, he eventually fell into acting, and joined Cambridge Footlights, for which he’d later become the president. There he met actor Emma Thompson who introduced him to Stephen Fry - and the rest is history.

#5: Hugh Grant

He may play the well-spoken, highly-educated guy in his films, but is he worthy of the part? In short, yes he is. From Wetherby prep school to Latymer Upper School, Grant later earned a scholarship to New College, Oxford. There he studied English, and starred in his first film, “Privileged”, which was funded by the university. Although offered the chance to study for a PhD in History of Art, Grant couldn't raise the funds, so started touring with with Oxford University’s Dramatic Society, initially as a creative outlet only.

#4: Kate Beckinsale

Describing herself as a “late bloomer”, Beckinsale was educated at Godolphin and Latymer School, before going on to study French and Russian literature at Oxford. In between essays, she also attended theatre groups, including Orange Tree Youth Theatre and Oxford University Dramatic Society - leading to her breakthrough in acting. She also found an affinity for writing, winning the WH Smith's Young Writer of the Year award, twice. Plus, thanks to her focus on foreign literature, she's fluent in multiple languages.

#3: Rowan Atkinson

Mr. Bean, Johnny English, Electrical Engineer? Yep. Although frequently appearing on-screen as a somewhat dim-witted buffoon, Atkinson is a highly-educated guy. Studying at a prep school and going on to earn a degree in Electrical Engineering from Newcastle University, he continued his degree and earned himself a masters at The Queen's College, Oxford. During his studies, he also took part in the Experimental Theatre Club and Oxford University Dramatic Society.

#2: John Cleese

Cleese proved a pioneer for the Footlights Club at Cambridge, helping establish it as a prestigious platform for actors. As a teenager, Cleese had long been listed to enrol at Cambridge University, but his move was delayed due to an increased number of applicants. So, the comic bided his time by teaching for two years, before finally attending Downing College, and reading Law. He also joined Footlights, using it as a springboard for his work as a writer and actor, alongside the likes of fellow Python Graham Chapman.

#1: Brian May

May is just as much a learned scientist as he is a legendary musician. The Queen guitarist attended Hampton Grammar School before attending Imperial College London, and graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics in 1968. Launching in-depth research into interplanetary dust between 1970 and 1974, he completed his work years later and was finally awarded his PhD in astrophysics in 2007. May was also credited as a science team collaborator on NASA’s New Horizons Pluto mission. And who said Science isn't cool?
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