1. Elizabeth Banks
The daughter of a Massachusetts factory worker, Ms. Banks graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1996. She holds a bachelors in Communications and Theater Arts, and achieved high-enough grades to earn a magna cum laude distinction.
2. Matt Damon
Matt Damon might be known as one of America’s leading actors, but he’s also an award-winning writer. While he never finished his degree in English at Harvard, it’s not a stretch to think that some of the skills that he honed in Cambridge might have contributed to his Best Original Screenplay Oscar for “Good Will Hunting.”
3. Claire Danes
While she dropped out to pursue an acting career, Claire Danes enrolled at Yale Unversity to study psychology. Between having her father as an alumnus and a letter of recommendation from Oliver Stone, it’s not surprising that she got in.
4. Jodie Foster
Actress and director Jodie Foster holds a bachelor’s in literature, magna cum laude, from Yale. Although she originally planned to graduate in 1984, the publicity following her being cited as a motivation for Hinckley’s assassination attempt on President Reagan motivated her to delay her graduation.
5. Paul Giamatti
Born in New Haven, Giamatti was able to attend Yale without commuting a great distance. Before graduating with a BA in English in 1989, he was elected to Yale’s secret Skull and Bones society, which claims famous alumni including George H.W and George W. Bush, Justice Potter Stewart and Harold Stanley, the Stanley in Morgan Stanley.
6. John Krasinski
Before building his career on the small and large screens, John Krasinski studied theatre arts at the Ivy League’s Brown University.
7. John Legend
Noted musician John Legend actually turned down Harvard and non-Ivy Georgetown and Morehouse’s scholarship offers to enroll at Penn. He graduated with a degree in English and a concentration in African-American literature.
8. Conan O’Brien
If you’ve ever wondered why The Simpsons make fun of writers from Harvard, it’s because their writing team is filled with Crimson men. At least one of them, Conan O’Brien, also went on to a varied career on screen, instead of behind the scenes.
9. Natalie Portman
Another commuted between a galaxy far, far away and Cambridge, since she finished a psychology degree at Harvard while working on the Star Wars prequel trilogy.
10. Brooke Shields
70’s and 80’s child star and super model Brooke Shields took a break from acting in the early 1980s to attend Princeton University. She completed a degree in French literature before returning to her on-screen career.