The “Harry Potter” actress amde her decision, going for college. “I’ve had to say no to stuff that people have been gobsmacked about. I’ve had big directors say to me, ‘What do you mean, you can’t do this movie? We don’t understand,’ ” the actress, now 21, said recently by phone from her native England. (Matt Sayles / Associated Press)
Natalie Portman, 30,who majored in psychology at Harvard University, won the lead actress Oscar this year for “Black Swan.” (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
The “Transformers” star turned down a chance to attend Yale Drama School to work on films such as Steven Spielberg‘s “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” Spielberg wrote the actor a recommendation letter for the program, as did actor John Turturro. LaBeouf took the ACT entrance exam and sent in the requisite monologues. He had planned to attend school every other semester, alternating with movies. But ultimately, he decided that the rigors of the school’s program made it impossible to attend in spurts. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
James Franco, 33, who hosted this year’s Oscars and was nominated for lead actor for “127 Hours,” has been perhaps the most active actor-scholar of late: He is enrolled in Yale University‘s English PhD program and North Carolina‘s Warren Wilson College for poetry. In May, he earned a master’s degree from New York University‘s Tisch School of the Arts and Columbia University‘s MFA writing program, after already graduating from Brooklyn College for fiction writing last year. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Producer Judd Apatow was conflicted when he learned that the bulk of Franco’s castmates on his late ‘90s TV show “Freaks and Geeks” — which included Jason Segel and Seth Rogen — had decided to put off college to instead chase their acting dreams.
“When I found out they weren’t going to go to college, I certainly felt very guilty about the possibility that them being on a TV show led them to think that higher education was unnecessary,” Apatow said. “I would hate to think that if their acting careers didn’t work out, they had nothing to fall back on because they bailed on college.” (NBC)
Some of Hollywood’s most acclaimed actors who started in the business at a young age are college grads. Jodie Foster, 48, who studied literature at Yale, has won two Academy Awards. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
The “Tree of Life” actor believes some performers who stop their schooling at an early age may be making a strategic error that could hurt them down the line.
“I worry for the young, young guys, because they haven’t experienced enough to know not to get eaten up by the machine,” he said. “I worry that they get defined before they really know who they are. … When they blow up too big at too young an age, they don’t get the luxury to make the mistakes. They get defined and discarded.” (Guillaume Horcajuelo / EPA)
“Everybody said, ‘Strike while the iron is hot.’ And everybody is so replaceable these days that to maintain your ‘heat,’ or whatever, you are supposed to put aside school,” said Lively, who’s now 23 and building a film career, including roles in last year’s “The Town” and next weekend’s “Green Lantern.” (Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images)
The star of the long-running ‘90s sitcom “Blossom” went to UCLA directly after the popular show ended and noticed that she immediately stood out.
“One professor even brought his kids in to meet me on the day of our final exam,” she said, laughing. “I didn’t live in the dorms, because I don’t think that could have been normal in any way — being in proximity to that many people excited to be near me.”
Bialik flourished in academia and went on to earn a PhD in neuroscience from UCLA. She has since returned to acting, playing a neurobiologist on the TV show “The Big Bang Theory.” (Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images)