The surprisingly smart movie stars

Mark Lankester
Yahoo UK Movies Features
1 March 2013

So, it seems Cameron Diaz knows LOADS about asteroids. How do we know this? She guest starred on a NASA TV series ‘Robot Astronomy’, that’s how.

Talking to host Robot IR-2 (voiced by ‘Babylon 5’ actor Ed Wasser, no less), she explained how astronomers measure the size of asteroids from millions of miles away.

She even explained the ‘Yarkovsky Effect’ - something to do with light shining on asteroids and pushing them off course.

[Related story: People you didn't know had won an Oscar]
[Related story: Mark Wahlberg: I couldn't understand Star Trek script]



We never knew Diaz was such an expert, and she certainly dispels the ‘dumb blonde’ stereotype.

But she’s not the only movie star who is smarter than she looks…


Josh Brolin

The grizzled ‘Men in Black III’ star is a whiz on the stock market, and has apparently made far more from stocks and shares than he has from acting. For a while he ran Marketprobabilty.com - a site which gave traders “a mathematical edge” – and also co-managed a hedge fund back in 2010 that was worth a cool $40 million-ish. No wonder he was cast in the ‘Wall Street’ sequel.


Dolph Lundgren

The ‘Expendables’ and ‘Rocky IV’ star split his adolescent years between two disciplines: captaining the Swedish Karate team (saw that one coming), and chemistry (not so much). After gaining a degree in Chemical Engineering from the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology, and a master’s degree from the University of Sydney, the Swedish born Lundgren earned a place at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston– only to drop out weeks later to pursue acting. We’re not sure he would have suited the lab coat look anyway.


Jodie Foster


Former child star Foster became fluent in French after attending a French language prep school in LA – meaning the actress dubs her own performances in the French language versions of her movies. Impressive, oui? She also understands German, Spanish and Italian. 


Warren Beatty

Legendary ladies man Warren Beatty has an eidetic memory – that’s photographic memory to you and me. Beatty’s talent only extends to phone numbers though, as the ‘Heaven Can Wait’ star can reportedly recall anyone’s digits once seen. Handy, considering the size his little black book would otherwise be.


Steve Martin

Wanting to be closer to his girlfriend, Steve Martin only enrolled at California State University after she moved away to nearby UCLA. The relationship didn’t work out, but Steve ended up liking his Philosophy course so much he genuinely considered becoming a professor in the subject. The actor, who also has a reported IQ of 142, played on his philosophical background throughout his early stand-up work.


Sylvester Stallone

Don’t let Sly’s slurred speech and choice of movies fool you, the action star has a reported IQ of 160.  In the early ‘70s Stallone dropped out of his drama course at the University of Miami to live the dream as a penniless actor in New York – later cashing in his career achievements for the remaining credits to finally graduate in 1999. He was also voted “student most likely to end up in the electric chair” by his high school classmates, but let’s leave that one off the CV.


Kate Beckinsale

Brit actress Beckinsale studied French and Russian Literature at Oxford, spending her third year studying in Paris. The actress was also involved in the Oxford University Dramatic Society, where she had a part in ‘A View From The Bridge’, directed by then fellow student, Tom Hooper. She’s also fluent in German. 


Natalie Portman

In 2003 future Oscar winner Natalie graduated with a degree in Psychology from Harvard University – where she’d also published two research papers as a student. She then went into study post-grad courses at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Natalie famously skipped the premiere of ‘Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace’ so she could revise for her high school finals.


James Woods

MENSA member Woods must be one of the smartest men in Hollywood, with a massive IQ of 180. The twice Oscar nominated actor was considered a genius for his age in high school – after blitzing his college entrance exams with a perfect SAT maths score of 800 (the average is 500). Woods went on to study Political Science at MIT, however he dropped out in favour of acting – on the advice of Ben Affleck’s dad.


Quentin Tarantino

At 15, Quentin dropped out of high school to attend a full-time acting course. Two years later he got bored of that too, and left to work in a California video rental store. Tarantino famously learned his future filmmaking craft from paying attention to the types of movies people rented. The thing is, the director has an IQ of 160 and is a member of MENSA – we’ll just assume he didn’t like his teachers.

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