ByMark Newton, writer at
Movie Pilot Associate Editor. Email: [email protected]
Mark Newton

Celebrities often get a hard time for being a bit of a dumb bunch. Sure, they look nice when they're were prancing down the red carpet in a lovely frock and they've got smiles which just look positively exquisite on the front over of a tawdry gossip magazine. However, it's often assumed there's not a whole lot going on up stairs.

But, that's not always the case. There are some celebrities out there who are not only smart, but they are also within the IQ bracket to be considered geniuses.

The average IQ is 100, and obviously anything above this number suggests better than average intelligence, with the higher IQ numbers roughly breaking down into the following categories:

  • 115-124 - Above average (e.g., university students)
  • 125-134 - Gifted (e.g., post-graduate students)
  • 135-144 - Highly gifted (e.g., intellectuals)
  • 145-154 - Genius (e.g., professors)
  • 155-164 - Genius (e.g., Nobel Prize winners)
  • 165-179 - High genius
  • 180-200 - Highest genius
  • >200 - "Unmeasurable genius"

Let's look at 10 celebrity brain-boxes.

Natalie Portman - 140

The Academy Award winning Natalie Portman is also one of the smartest actresses in Hollywood. She actually skipped the premier of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace to better prepare for her school exams, while she has a degree in psychology from Harvard and is pursuing a graduate course at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

She's been published twice in scientific journals and is fluent in five languages.

Shakira - 140

The world famous possessor of honest hips and breasts which are 'small and humble' also has an extremely good head on her shoulders.

She can speak three languages fluently - Spanish, English and Portuguese, while she's also proficient in French, Italian, Catalan and Arabic. She's also a big fan of history and world culture, and is pursuing a course in The History of Western Civilization at UCLA Extensions. Oh yeah, she's also set up two schools.

Nolan Gould - 150

Although the 16 year old Nolan Gould might play the rather intellectually challenged Luke Dunphy in Modern Family, in real life he is a member of Mensa - an organization reserved for the top 2% of the general population in terms of IQ.

At thirteen he graduated from high school and plans to take courses online. He can also play the banjo and the double bass.

Lisa Kudrow - 154

Lisa Kudrow is another sitcom star whose on screen persona isn't known for their intellectual prowess. However, in real life Kudrow holds a degree in biology and was a medical researcher for eight years before joining the cast of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. In particular she conducted research into headaches.

Matt Damon - 160

This one is slightly less surprising, since Matt Damon is quite well-known for throwing himself into various extra-curricular activities. However, despite having a high IQ, Damon actually never finished Harvard University. Instead he dropped out of college to pursue a career in acting.

However, it was while at Harvard that Damon developed the draft script for the Oscar winning Good Will Hunting. He was later awarded an honorary Harvard Arts Medal in 2013.

Conan O'Brien - 160

Despite making a career of acting like a fool on stage, Conan O'Brien in fact graduated magnum cum laude from Harvard University. This 72 page thesis, which was titled "The 'Old Child' in Faulkner and O’Connor," argued that "the New South’s emerging identity is manifested in the literature of William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor via the motif of children that age too quickly."

However, he was still the recognizable Conan. He was dubbed the "preeminent jokester" of the class of '85 and was president of the Harvard Lampoon - the college's humor magazine.

Dolph Lundgren - 160

Although his onscreen persona often seems to prioritize brawn over brains, Dolph Lundgren actually has a lot of both.

The Rocky III and The Expendables actor was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to MIT in 1983 and holds degrees in chemistry and chemical engineering, while he also speaks six different languages.

Quentin Tarantino - 160

The complex dialogue and structure of Tarantino movies certainly suggest he's got a pretty good amount of grey matter in that braincase of his, but you might be surprised to know he has very little formal education.

In fact, he dropped out of high school aged 15 to work at a video rental store where he began to write scripts. He is quoted as stating: “When people ask me if I went to film school, I tell them, ‘no, I went to films’”.

James Wood - 184

The veteran film and voice actor could perhaps be one of the smartest people in Hollywood. As a teenager, Wood's almost scored 100% on his SATs, getting the perfect 800 in the verbal section, and 779 in maths. With this he won a scholarship to MIT and majored in political science. However, he never graduated, as he quit to pursue acting.

Brian May - ???

The legendary Queen guitarist not only looks like Isaac Newton, he's got a brain like him too.

I was unable to find exact IQ figures for May, but what's certain is that it would be lingering around the genius level. Dr. Brian May - as he should really be called - has a PhD from the prestigious Imperial College London in astrophysics. From 1970 to 1974 he studied the reflected light from interplanetary dust and the velocity of dust in the plane of the solar system. He has also co-authored two papers on astrophysics, titled MgI Emission in the Night-Sky Spectrum (1972) and An Investigation of the Motion of zodiacal dust Particles (Part I).

He dropped out of his doctorate once Queen began to find international success, eventually returning and completing it in 2007 with the thesis, A Survey of Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud.


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