6 Celebs Who Are Way Smarter Than the Characters They Play


Are you curious which of your favorite silly characters are played by much smarter actors? Here's a list of six actors who are more intelligent than the characters they're known for portraying.

Hollywood loves to make us laugh at characters who are a little, well, not-so-bright. From Mean Girl's Karen and her 'fifth sense' to Gilligan from Gilligan's Island, audiences love to watch characters make fools of themselves. But many of the actors who play your favorite clueless characters are actually quite smart themselves. Here are six celebrities who are way smarter than the characters they play.

Lisa Kudrow

Lisa Kudrow is best known for her role as Phoebe on the long-running hit sitcom Friends, a character who is silly, ditzy, and a little clueless. But Kudrow herself is no ditz. She has a bachelor's degree in biology from Vassar College and worked with her physician father researching headaches for years before breaking into acting. She even has a credit on a study about the likelihood of left-handed people developing cluster headaches.

A left-handed woman suffers from cluster headaches

Ken Jeong

The roles that Ken Jeong chooses for himself, like Leslie Chow from the Hangover franchise and Ben Chang on Community, are hardly geniuses. But the actor might be. Before getting into acting, Jeong was a practicing physician. He has since taken advantage of his medical background to play a doctor on ABC's Dr. Ken, but medicine isn't the only realm in which Jeong has thrived. He graduated high school at 16 after participating in Quiz Bowl and student council.

Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling's first big role as Kelly Kapoor in the beloved sitcom The Office paints an image of her as a vapid, gossipy chatterbox. In reality, Kaling is a graduate of Dartmouth College, a recipient of an honorary doctorate, and a speaker of Latin. And she doesn't just excel in front of the camera; Kaling was one of the primary writers behind The Office's funny jokes and touching storylines, and has written and published two books.

The White House

Kal Penn

You might know Kal Penn as one half of the iconic duo Harold and Kumar, two stoner characters who chase food and adventure. In reality, Penn is focused on more serious matters. In 2009, he dropped out of the cast of House to serve in Barack Obama's White House as the Associate Director of the Office of Public Engagement. He also served on the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities.

Nolan Gould

You probably know Nolan Gould better as Luke Dunphy on ABC's Modern Family. Luke is a pretty dim-witted character, but Gould is remarkably bright. He has an IQ of 150, earning him a place in MENSA, an organization open only to those who score at the 98th percentile or higher on the IQ test. And - get this - Gould joined before he was even 13 years old.

Oxford University, which Rowan Atkinson attended

Rowan Atkinson

Rowan Atkinson's most iconic character, Mr. Bean, doesn't necessarily come off as a genius. In fact, Atkinson has described Mr. Bean as 'a child in a grown man's body.' But Atkinson himself actually is a genius. For real. He has an IQ of 178, which is unthinkably high. He also has a background in electrical engineering, having studied it both at Newcastle University and Oxford University, one of the most prestigious educational institutions in existence.

Which brainy celebrity surprised you with their smarts? Let us know on Twitter @studydotcom.

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By Daisy Rogozinsky
September 2018
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