13 Celebrities Who Are Smarter Than You Think

It's easy to characterize celebrities as a bunch of dimwitted narcissists, and let's face it, a whole bunch of 'em are. However, Hollywood has its fair share of outliers who're much smarter than you'd think, armed with advanced degrees and MENSA memberships.  Can you guess who's got an IQ higher than Stephen Hawking's? Spoiler: it's not Jessica Simpson.

1. Brian May

Who: Queen lead guitarist, hair model
Before hitting it big in the '70s, May was enrolled in a doctoral degree program in astrophysics at the Imperial College of London. He took a break when Queen got popular, but eventually finished and earned his PhD in 2007. He's the co-author of several scientific research papers and books about the universe, and even served as chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University from 2008 to 2013

2. Rowan Atkinson

Who: actor, race car driver
Before becoming one of the U.K.'s most celebrated comics, Mr. Bean earned an undergraduate and master's degree in electrical engineering, the latter at Oxford. He was on track to make it a career, until his successful dabbling in sketch comedy re-routed things.

3. Geena Davis

Who: actor, semi-pro archer
Before Thelma & Louise, Davis received a drama degree from Boston University. She has a reported IQ of 140 and is proudly touted by MENSA as one of their most prominent members.

4. Lisa Kudrow

Who: actress, fledgling neuroscientist
The polar opposite of the charmingly airheaded Phoebe Buffay, Kudrow earned a degree in biology, and worked for eight years studying cluster headaches in left-handed people while auditioning for acting roles.

5. James Woods

Who: actor, professional poker player
Although he initially aspired to be an eye surgeon, Woods ultimately chose to study political science after being accepted to MIT. He never graduated, but who cares—he reportedly has an IQ of 184 (Einstein and Stephen Hawking clock in at a paltry 160) and is also a member of MENSA.

6. Jerry Springer

Who: talk show host, former mayor of Cincinnati
Before he was hosting a televised white trash circus, Springer received a law degree from Northwestern and served as a campaign advisor to Robert F. Kennedy, before running for office himself.

7. Mayim Bialik

Who: former child star, current Big Bang Theory star
During her hiatus from acting, Blossom earned a bachelor's degree and PhD in neuroscience, and drew upon her intimate knowledge of the subject to write a book about "attachment parenting."

8. Dolph Lundgren

Who: actor, martial artist
Before the muscley Swede's stint as Grace Jones' bodyguard and his breakout role as Ivan Drago in Rocky IV, Lundgren was on track to be a chemical engineer. He earned a master's degree in the discipline at the University of Sydney, and was such a promising student that he earned a Fulbright Scholarship to MIT.

9. Jodie Foster

Who: actress, cannibal hunter
At the height of her early fame in 1980, Foster was valedictorian of her class from Lycée Français de Los Angeles before graduating magna cum laude with a degree in literature from Yale.

10. Ed Norton

Who: actor, hilariously miscast Hulk
Before he was an A-lister, Norton studied history at Yale then moved to Japan, where he served as a consultant for his grandfather's real estate development company.

11. Asia Carrera

Who: former pornstar, Logjammin' castmember
A classically trained pianist, Carrera played Carnegie Hall twice before the age of 15. She has an IQ of 156, is a member of MENSA, and was awarded a full scholarship to Rutgers to study Japanese and business before dropping out to explore more exotic pursuits. 

12. Hedy Lamarr

Who: golden age moviestar, Wi-Fi inventor, wife to six different men
Bored by her acting career, Lamarr pursued an interest in applied science and was hell bent on using it to aid in the war effort. Her experiments eventually led her to develop a method of protecting torpedoes from going off course due to signal interference. Her patented "signal-hopping" technology was advanced for the time but wasn't adopted by the military. However, it later served as the basis for hugely important modern innovations like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

13. Kate Beckinsale

Who: actor, the only reason to watch Pearl Harbor
Before she was slaughtering werewolves on the big screen, Beckinsale was two-time winner of the WH Smith Young Writers' prize, and went on to study drama and French and Russian literature at Oxford.

Joe McGauley is a senior editor at Supercompressor and is unfortunately neither good at archery nor MENSA material.

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