Beauty & the Geek

Gerard Butler, Ricky Gervais & More Stars With Shocking College Degrees (PHOTOS)

Jean Trinh finds the most unexpected college degrees from ‘Friends’ cast members to action film stars.

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l-r Neilson Barnard/Getty; Ian Gavan/Getty

Admission hits theaters this Friday—a comedy starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd about a Princeton admissions officer. While the 30 Rock star graduated from her alma mater with a drama degree and Rudd was a theater geek at the University of Kansas, neither majors are too surprising. Hence, we bring to you a list of the most unexpected college degrees earned by the glamorous—from the spacey Friends cast member with a fondness for biology to the brawny action actor who was on the path to becoming a chemical engineer. By Jean Trinh

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Mayim Bialik

What can’t this girl do? Although Mayim Bialik portrays a brainy scientist on The Big Bang Theory, her character isn’t too far off from real life. The mother of two took a break from wearing floppy hats when TV sitcom Blossom ended to earn her bachelor’s in neuroscience, Jewish studies, and Hebrew, topping it off with a doctorate in neuroscience from UCLA in 2007.

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David Duchovny

Fans of Californication have seen Hank Moody—played by David Duchovny—as a troubled writer over the past seven seasons. However, the role in some ways is a perfect fit for Duchovny, as he earned his master’s degree in English literature at Yale University in the late ‘80s. “I was interested in writing for screen and television but I wanted to know what it was like to speak the words,” he said in the Yale Daily News. “So I started hanging around the Drama School like a stray dog and sat in on classes.” (Duchovny also began, but never completed, a PhD program in comparative literature.)

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Ron Jeremy

America’s legendary male porn star had some surprisingly humble beginnings. With a master’s in special education from Queens College in New York, Jeremy—whose real name is Ron J. Hyatt—was a special education teacher until he left to pursue acting full-time. In the fall of 1978, his girlfriend sent nude photographs of him to Playgirl and that skyrocketed his career, as reported in National Post. Last month, Jeremy was hospitalized for an aneurysm near his heart, but has since been released.

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Lisa Kudrow

Ditzy blonde or actress touting a bachelor’s of science? Lisa Kudrow, best known for her musical renditions of “Smelly Cat” as Phoebe Buffay on iconic TV show Friends, doesn’t fulfill the flaxen-haired stereotype in real life. She studied biology at Vassar College, and delivered the commencement address to her alma mater in 2010.

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David Macklovitch of Chromeo

When David Macklovitch—who goes by stage name Dave 1 in electro-funk duo Chromeo—isn’t enticing fans to dance with his guitar and vocal stylings, he spends his time working on his French literature Ph.D at New York’s Columbia University and teaches undergraduate classes. Say what?! He was also the former music editor of subversive magazine VICE, as reported by Metromix New York.

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Ricky Gervais

Before Ricky Gervais created The Office or hosted the Golden Globes, he was at University College London taking classes on philosophy, and earned himself a bachelor’s of arts degree. The comedian recently reprised his role of David Brent—the first we’ve seen of him in a decade—with a ten-minute clip on a comedy special.

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Christy Turlington

Christy Turlington just might be perfect. Not only is the supermodel beautiful, but she’s also brainy and a humanitarian! The New York University graduate majored in religion and Eastern philosophy, and continued her education with a master’s in public health from Columbia University. Making good use of her schooling, Turlington even directed a documentary, No Woman, No Cry, chronicling the lives of pregnant women around the world without access to proper health care.

Shahar Azran

Montel Williams

Emmy-award winning talk show host, actor, and… U.S. Naval Academy student? Montel Williams received his bachelor’s in engineering with a minor in international security affairs from the famed Annapolis, Maryland academy, and continued to serve a distinguished military career for 12 more years before starting his talk show.

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Dolph Lundgren

Dolph Lundgren’s name is synonymous with other action star heavyweights like Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis. Prior to starring in such movies like The Expendables and Rocky IV, the chiseled Swede had aspirations to become a chemical engineer, receiving a master’s degree in the sciences, and even receiving a Fulbright scholarship to attend famed tech school M.I.T.

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Ashley Judd

Ashley Judd seems to have some major talents under her belt besides acting. The Double Jeopardy actress, who has many times played the role of the tough girl, is tough in real life on political activism. In 2010, she graduated from Harvard University’s public administration program. With efforts in squashing sex trafficking and fighting for global health, Judd has even delivered speeches to the United Nations General Assembly. “I didn’t go to Harvard Kennedy School to be approved of by anyone, but to immerse myself in some very serious, earnest, practical learning with people who have literally dedicated all they have to public service,” Judd said in the New York Times.

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Ray Romano

If Ray Romano stuck to his college major, we would have never learned why “everyone loves Raymond.” The Parenthood comedian pursued an accounting degree at Queens College in New York before venturing into the entertainment industry.

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Gerard Butler

“This is Sparta!” are the famous words bellowed by actor Gerard Butler in 300. Could you imagine the actor saying, “I object, your Honor!” in a courtroom in real life? Butler actually studied law at Glasgow University and was the head of the law society at the school, but left the legal industry after his partying spiraled out of control, as reported by The Telegraph. Luckily, he cleaned up at the age of 27 and has had a successful career in acting since.

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Sacha Baron Cohen

Funnyman Sacha Baron Cowen studied history in the United Kingdom’s esteemed University of Cambridge and wrote a dissertation on the Jewish impact on the U.S. civil rights movement, before portraying such memorable characters as Borat and Ali G. "I had the choice of either pursuing my studies and doing a PhD or doing something that was a bit more fun, so I decided that rather than sit alone in a library, I'd try and make people laugh,” Cowen said in the Telegraph.