Much has been written about Hollywood’s acting geniuses, thanks to the paparazzi and audience demand to know about them. We know which movies they previously acted or had been involved in, their artistic influences and unfortunately, maybe far too much about their personal lives.
But one aspect that has mostly gone under the radar are the higher education paths these Hollywood stars took in their younger years. Which university did they go to and which university produced the most Best Actors and Best Actresses at the Academy Awards?
In time for awards season, Times Higher Education recently undertook the task to trace these stars’ academic backgrounds by tracking the Best Actor and Best Actress Oscars over the past 30 years to see where they went to university.
Out of the list of 30 actors, the four University of California alumni that have won Academy Awards are: Nicholas Cage (for Leaving Las Vegas in 1996), Michael Douglas (Wall Street, 1988), Gwyneth Paltrow (for Shakespeare in Love in 1999) and Helen Hunt (for As Good As It Gets in 1998).
Whereas the four Yale University alumni were: Meryl Streep (for The Iron Lady in 2012), Frances McDormand (for Fargo in 1997), Jodie Foster (for The Silence Of The Lambs in 1992) and Paul Newman (for The Colour of Money in 1987).
Among the patterns picked up from the THE table was the proximity of some of the universities to Hollywood. Apart from the four alumni from the University of California system, there were many Oscar winners who also studied at community colleges across California, with two of the Best Actor winners (Sean Penn and Dustin Hoffman) and one Best Actress (Hilary Swank) attending Santa Monica Community College.
THE also found that, unsurprisingly, the majority of Oscar winners had majored in drama or theater degrees, followed by the second-most popular subject, English literature, as well as art, photography or music. Natalie Portman, who won Best Actress for the film “Black Swan” in 2011, was one of the few to buck the arts trend and chose to study psychology at Harvard University.
Female actresses were also revealed to go to university more than their male counterparts, though a bigger number of them dropped out midway through their studies. Juggling school and stardom could also be the reason why 11 actors and eight actresses of the past 30 years chose to skip university altogether, opting instead for the stages of renowned theater schools or working less glamorous jobs until they got their big break.
But overall, the THE table showed that there were more Oscar winners who opted for the university route as the right stepping stone to their success in the film industry.
Here is the full list of the winners… and the universities they attended:
|2016||Leonardo Dicaprio for The Revenant||None|
|2015||Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything||University of Cambridge|
|2014||Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club||University of Texas, Austin|
|2013||Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln||Bristol Old Vic Theatre School|
|2012||Jean Dujardin for The Artist||None|
|2011||Colin Firth for The King’s Speech||The Drama Centre London (part of the University of the Arts, London)|
|2010||Jeff Bridges for Crazy heart||Herbert Berghof studio in New York|
|2009||Sean Penn for Milk||Santa Monica Community College|
|2008||Daniel Day-Lewis for There Will Be Blood||Bristol Old Vic Theatre School|
|2007||Forest Whitaker for The Last King of Scotland||California State Polytechnic University, Pomon & University of Southern California|
|2006||Philip Seymour Hoffmann for Capote||New York University|
|2005||Jamie Foxx for Ray||Alliant International University|
|2004||Sean Penn for Mystic River||Santa Monica Community College|
|2003||Adrien Brody for The Pianist||Stony Brook University & Queen’s College|
|2002||Denzel Washington for Training Day||Fordham university|
|2001||Russell Crowe for Gladiator||None|
|2000||Kevin Spacey for American Beauty||Juilliard School New York|
|1999||Robert Benigni for Life is Beautiful||None|
|1998||Jack Nicholson for As Good As It Gets||None|
|1997||Geoffrey Rush for Shine||University of Queensland|
|1996||Nicholas Cage for Leaving Las Vegas||University of California, Los Angeles|
|1995||Tom Hanks for Forrest Gump||Chabot College & California State University|
|1994||Tom Hanks for Philadelphia||Chabot College & California State University|
|1993||Al Pacino for Scent of a Woman||none|
|1992||Anthony Hopkins for Silence of the lambs||Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama & Royal Academy of Dramatic Art|
|1991||Jeremy Irons for Reversal of Fortune – Bristol Old Vic Theatre||Bristol Old Vic Theatre School|
|1990||Daniel Day Lewis for My Left Foot||Bristol Old Vic Theatre School|
|1989||Dustin Hoffman, Rainman||Santa Monica Community College|
|1998||Michael Douglas for Wall Street||University of California, Santa Barbara|
|1997||Paul Newman for The Colour of Money||Kenyon College|
|2016||Brie Larson for Room||American Conservatory Theatre, San Francisco|
|2015||Julianne Moore for Still Alice||Boston University|
|2014||Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine||University of Melbourne|
|2013||Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook||None|
|2012||Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady||Vassar College & Yale University|
|2011||Natalie Portman for Black Swan||Harvard University|
|2010||Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side||East Carolina University|
|2009||Kate Winslet for The Reader||Redroofs Theatre School|
|2008||Marion Cotillard for La Vie en Rose||None|
|2007||Helen Mirren for The Queen||National Youth Theatre|
|2006||Reese Witherspoon for Walk The Line||Stanford University|
|2005||Hilary Swank for Million Dollar Baby||Santa Monica Community College|
|2004||Charlize Theron for Monster||None|
|2003||Nicole Kidman for The Hours||University of Melbourne Faculty of VCA and MCM|
|2002||Halle Berry for Monsters Ball||Cuyahoga Community College|
|2001||Julia Roberts for Erin Brockovich||Georgia State University,|
|2000||Hilary Swank for Boys Dont Cry||Santa Monica Community College|
|1999||Gwyneth Paltrow for Shakespeare in Love||University of California, Santa Barbara|
|1998||Helen Hunt for As Good As It Gets||University of California Los Angeles|
|1997||Frances McDormand for Fargo||Bethany College West Virginia & Yale University|
|1996||Susan Sarandon for Dead Man Walking||Catholic University of America|
|1995||Jessica Lange for Blue Sky||University of Minnesota|
|1994||Holly Hunter for The Piano||Carnegie Mellon University|
|1993||Emma Thompson for Howards End||University of Cambridge|
|1992||Jodie Foster for The Silence Of The Lambs||Yale University|
|1991||Kathy Bates for Misery||Southern Methodist University|
|1990||Jessica Tandy for Driving Miss Daisy||None|
|1989||Jodie Foster for The Accused||Yale University|
|1988||Cher for Moonstruck||None|
|1987||Marlee Matlin for Children Of A Lesser Point||William Rainey Harper College|