Top 10 Actors Who Dropped Out of School


Everyone’s heard of how giants like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates have dropped out of college, and in a way, it makes sense.  As much as we want to believe this gives us an excuse to also drop out, those guys were literally too smart for college.  But it gets even weirder when you realize that most famous people, like actors, also dropped out of school at one point.  Yet, they are super successful and often enjoy fine luxuries like swimming in pools of cash or eating the meat of endangered species.  Don’t believe us?  Check out these actors who were too cool for school.

Oh, also, we’ve provided gorgeous pictures of said actors/actresses free of charge.

10.  Kate Beckinsale


Kate Beckinsale is known in the male community as the vampire in Underworld that looks great in leather, and in the female community as “that nurse standing between me and Leonardo DiCaprio”.  Like most actors, she was born into a family of actors.  As an actress in England, the most she could land was a role in Doctor Who, opposite the 9th Doctor.  And that, while impressive in some circles, just wasn’t enough. Once she moved to New York, she scored roles in Pearl Harbor, Serendipity, and Underworld.

But before any of that, Beckinsale was hard at work at freaking Oxford, where she was involved with the Oxford University Dramatic Society.  Like most students, one day the pressure just got to her and she dropped out to work on her acting (because Oxford is terrible for that).  Later she would say, “It was getting to the point where I wasn’t enjoying either thing enough because both were very high pressure. I was burning out and I knew I had to make a decision.”

9.  Jessica Biel


Jessica Biel is easily one of the greatest things to come out of 7th Heaven.  In her time on the big screen, she’s been in Blade, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Family Guy.  Biel began her career when she was discovered by an agency at age 12.  Her earliest jobs were ads for Pringles and brief stints on television shows.  She finally got her breakthrough on 7th Heaven, and recently appeared in the reboot of Total Recall.  Her reasons for dropping out college are unknown, but it is known that, while attending Tufts College in 2002, she tried out for the school a capella group and was rejected.  If that doesn’t smell like motivation, we’re not sure what does.

8.  Anne Hathaway


Continuing on this female streak is Anne Hathaway.  Most of us remember her from The Princess Diaries, when we’re not busy ogling her in the Catwoman suit, but some literature buffs will remember that she played Shakespeare’s wife back in the 17th century.  Despite starring in movies like Brokeback Mountain or The Devil Wears Prada, she finally won an Academy Award for her voice role in The Simpsons.  Hathaway grew up in Brooklyn but, unlike Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj, didn’t go crazy.  Instead she went to school at NYU’s Gallatin School for Individualized Study.

Despite saying that she loved going to college, Hathaway dropped out of school to act in The Devil Wears Prada.  After getting famous, she realized how unnecessary school was for success, and never went back.

7.  Kelsey Grammer


Despite having a girl’s name, Kelsey Grammer is very much a man.  His most famous role was as Dr. Frasier Crane on Cheers, which also scored him his own spin-off show.  Despite having a tough life, which included substance abuse and the murder of most of his family, he’s been nominated 14 times for an Emmy award.  More recently, he’s been in movies like Toy Story 2 and X Men 3.

Yet, while his acting may be extensive, his schooling most certainly is not.  Kelsey Grammer attended the Juilliard School for a few years before dropping out and independently working on his acting.

6.  Michael Fassbender


Star of Hunger, 300, Inglorious Basterds, and most recently X-Men: First Class, Michael Fassbender has really kicked off his acting in recent years.  Seriously, this guy has hit the A-List faster than you could say, “wait, that guy from Jonah Hex?”  But despite all of his charm and looks and acting ability and anything else we can attribute to his success, Fassbender never finished drama school.  When asked why he had the audacity to not take the traditional route, he said “in drama school, they don’t think of movies as a pure form, like theater, and it’s films that I love most.  There’s an intimacy in movies — I wanted to have the same impact on others that movies had on me.”

Despite the sob story (is it a sob story if it’s heartfelt?), Fassbender visited his alma mater last year, where they presumably presented him with an award for “Most Accomplished Drop-Out”.

5.  Tom Hanks


Ahh, Captain Woody Gump, the ultimate well-rounded actor, the epitome of Oscar bait, Tom Hanks.  To- wait, scratch that last one, the epitome of Oscar bait is George Clooney.  Anyway, Tom Hanks’s acting abilities are some of the best in the world.  He’s been in every type of movie, as well as done some kick-ass voice acting.  There are some actors out there who dream of being as good as Tom Hanks.  If you are one of those aspiring actors, here’s some advice straight from his biography: drop out of school.

Seriously, drop out.  I mean, Tom did it, and he turned out fine.  Well, technically, Tom Hanks dropped out of California State University in Sacramento, in order to intern at the a theater for three years…where he got his start in acting and made the necessary contacts needed to begin his career.  But still, he dropped out.

4.  Johnny Depp


Depp became famous way back for his role in the Fox classic 21 Jump Street.  Since then he’s been in more moves than you can count.  Some say you can judge a man’s success by his facial hair, and just looking at Johnny Depp’s dapper goatee and mustache tells us so much about how awesome he is.  But not many people know that, before he was in acting, Depp played guitar in a band called The Flame when he was in 13.  Rumor has it, he lost his v-card with a groupie on a tour bus at, let us stress this, AGE THIRTEEN.

Apparently, he left school to go focus on music, realized that was stupid aside from the whole groupie thing, and went to a film academy.  An academy he then dropped out of also to uh…focus on his acting.  But hey!  He’s rich and famous so it worked, we guess.

3.  Leonardo DiCaprio


When you think of Leonardo DiCaprio, either the Titanic theme or the Inception theme plays in your head.  Or if you’re really cool, you just picture images of mentally retarded people.  Either way, many a girl has fallen for his dreamy eyes and his good-looking…money.  But seriously, he’s slept with a lot of women.  Anyway, like most teenagers, Leo thought he was too cool for high school, and dropped out as a junior.  Details are vague, but he then attended a free local drama center, where he worked on his acting and scored his first stage plays.

2.  Clint Eastwood


Clint Eastwood bears the distinct honor of having a Gorillaz song named after him.  He is also massively famous for acting in some the most iconic movies of all-time, like The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.  His acting career started in high school, where he acted on stage and promptly hated the whole thing, vowing to never act again.  Later on, he realized how easy it was to act and decided to do it anyway.

Before all that though, Eastwood went to eight different grammar schools (that’s what they were called in the 15th Century, when Clint went to school), mostly because his parents moved a lot.

Once in a stable school, Eastwood was drafted into the Army and, upon discharge, decided he didn’t need to return to school.  That’s when he started looking for real acting gigs, and was set up with his first Westerns.  And the rest, as they say, is Clint Eastwood’s filmography.

1.  Harrison Ford


To top of this list of excuses you have for slacking off, is the king of every nerd’s dreams, Harrison Ford.  To give you an idea of how big he is, in 1997, Ford was ranked No. 1 in Empire’s “The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time” list.  As of July 2008, the United States domestic box office grosses of Ford’s films total almost $3.4 billion, with worldwide grosses surpassing $6 billion, making Ford the third-highest grossing U.S. domestic box-office star.  What more would you expect from both Indiana Jones and Han Solo?

Ford excelled at everything from a very young age when, in Boy Scouts, he achieved the second highest rank in the organization. He had no acting experience until he took a drama class in his senior year of college. After realizing how awesome he was at acting, Ford dropped out and went to pursue acting.

You read that right, Harrison Ford’s only acting experience was one college drama class.

Mohammed Shariff is a freelance writer that can be added here and followed here, for all you stalker types.  

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  1. Yeah they dropped out of college, but considering they actually got INTO pretty decent colleges in the first place says a lot. The whole we dropped out and still turn out rich thing is only relevant when the person dropping out isn’t actually. you know, a genious in their respective fields

  2. Elsa Lanchester-famous for being The Bride of Frankenstein – recieved barely any orthodox schooling and did not attend drama school.

  3. I didn’t realize that the Academy gave awards for television performances (see # 8). Other than that, nice pull on the “Shakespeare’s wife” thing 😉

  4. Well, this makes sense. If you want to be an actor, and that’s ALL you want to be, why should you study to be an architect or a lawyer or something else? Just for the secure paycheck? Kudos to these people.