And the most number of Oscar-winning actors/actresses goes to … University of California and Yale!

And the most number of Oscar-winning actors/actresses goes to ... University of California and Yale!
Can you guess which universities this year's Academy Awards winners studied in? Image via Reuters/Lucas Jackson.

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.

And what they discovered was that University of California and Yale University produced the highest number of Oscar winners, with four winners from each respective 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).

Meryl Streep, who attended both Vassar College and Yale University, won the Best Actress Academy Award in 2012 for The Iron Lady. Image via Reuters/Lucy Nicholson.

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:

Best Actors:

Year Winner/film Higher education?
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


Best Actress:

Year Winner/film Higher education?
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 Monster’s Ball Cuyahoga Community College
2001 Julia Roberts for Erin Brockovich Georgia State University,
2000 Hilary Swank for Boys Don’t 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 Howard’s 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

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