Generally, people don’t give movie stars too much credit on the educational side. I mean, let’s face it: dropping out of school is almost a prerequisite to making it big in showbiz. When they take their statuette at the Oscars and open their mouth to speak, we’re usually waiting for something embarrassing to pop out. This year’s nominees for Best Actor, however, are a mixed bag- educationally, I mean.

You’ve seen their movies. You’ve laughed, cried, and stayed riveted to your seat through their performances. You probably have a favorite you’re rooting for. Maybe it’s George or Johnny. Now, knowing that it has very little to do with their acting abilities, check out their educational backgrounds! These are our rankings of the Best Actor nominees based on their schooling. And the winner is…
1. Tommy Lee Jones – Nominated for his work in the arresting In the Valley of Elah, Jones graduated from the St. Mark’s School of Texas and attended Harvard on a scholarship, where he roomed with Al Gore. A cool bit of trivia: Jones played offensive tackle on Harvard’s undefeated 1968 varsity football team, was nominated as a first-team All-Ivy League selection, and played in the memorable and literal last-minute Harvard sixteen-point comeback blitz to tie Yale in the 1968 Game. Jones graduated cum laude with a degree in English in 1969. Brains, brawn, and that disarming Texas charm! We’re sold.
2. Viggo Mortensen – He’ll always be the king of Middle Earth to me. But before he made lopping off orc heads look so cool, Mortensen gained international experience, growing up in Norway, Venezuela, Argentina, Denmark, and New York. He graduated from Watertown High School in New York and earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York. Why Spanish? Because it was so easy for him that it gave him time to act in plays. At his commencement, however, Mortensen refused to wear an academic gown because they were made by sweatshop workers. After the Lord of the Rings trilogy, however, when he was granted an honorary doctorate by his alma mater, he did appear in the appropriate robes.
3. George Clooney – While attending Augusta High School, the Michael Clayton star was leading man in school plays. Another cool bit of trivia: Clooney tried out with the Cincinnati Reds in 1977 to play professional baseball, but was not offered a contract.
He attended Northern Kentucky University and University of Cincinnati, but did not graduate from either.
4. Daniel Day-Lewis – The eccentric but brilliant star of Let There Be Blood attended boarding school. Although he had excelled onstage at the National Youth Theatre, he decided to become a cabinet-maker, applying for a five-year apprenticeship. However, because of lack of experience, he was not accepted. He then applied and was accepted at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, which he attended for three years, eventually performing at the Bristol Old Vic itself. Wonder if he still dreams of being a cabinet maker.
5. Johnny Depp – Our favorite pirate and bloodthirsty star of Sweeney Todd, Depp dropped out of high school to become a rock musician. Two weeks later, he attempted to go back to school, but the principal told him to follow his dream of being a musician. Depp called the remark “really sweet.” Like so many high school bands, his didn’t last long. Good thing Depp had some talent in this whole acting thing.

There is little correlation, it seems, between obtaining educational degrees and receiving Academy Award nominations. We just want them to get up there and act like there ain’t no tomorrow. And these gentlemen certainly do.

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