Actors Talk About Being In School While Famous
It must be strange to live the life of an A-List movie star one day and then have to do algebra in a high school classroom the next day. Hear what these actors have to say about being in school while famous.
Macaulay Culkin was a multi-millionaire by the time he became a teenager. Yet, he was ready to take a big step away from the spotlight in order to be around kids his own age.
Find out which actress felt like a total imposter while attending Harvard University. Whose classmates sold stories about her to the tabloids? Which child actor refused to talk about her celebrity-filled acting life at school because she didn’t want to be labeled a “pariah”?
Make your voice heard. Vote up the most interesting celebrity student stories.
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Macaulay Culkin is widely considered one of the most financially successful child actors in Hollywood. The young star captured the hearts of movie fans around the world playing the mischievous but clever Kevin McCallister in 1990's Home Alone.
Culkin parlayed his Home Alone success into multiple big-screen roles like the weepie My Girl and the against-type villain in The Good Son.
In 1994 at 14 years old, Culkin decided to step away from the limelight. He had dreams of being just a normal teen in high school.
“I was tired of it, to be honest. I did like 14 movies in six years or something like that,” said Culkin during a 2014 interview with Ellen Degeneres. “I was away from home a lot. I was away from school. I needed something else. … It was great to be around people my own age for once. … It was the smartest thing I could have possibly done was to take eight years off.”
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Emma Watson scored her very first acting gig at 9 years old in what would become one of the biggest movie franchises in cinema history. The young actress played Hermione Granger in seven Harry Potter movies.
The actress later decided to take a break from the Hollywood spotlight and get a college education. She graduated from Brown University in Rhode Island in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature.
In a 2013 interview with GQ, Watson was asked if she had any stalkers.
They just tend to be people caught up, who don't really realize what they are doing, and I think it is very important that I don't allow it to isolate me further, to be another reason why I shouldn't go out and meet people or walk down the street. Weird guys sometimes take it too far, and that is it. I just keep a friend with me. I don't have a full-time security guard or anything like that.
Even at university, I went everywhere completely alone, which looking back was probably a pretty ambitious thing that I tried to do there, but somehow I got away with it. There were times when I did feel stressed and anxious and could probably have done with a bit more support. At the same time, I would rather make my own mistakes and learn what I need. I think it is so easy when you get famous to just disengage from having a life, and that can make some things really dangerous.
- Photo: The Big Bang Theory/CBS
Mayim Bialik doesn't just play a neurobiologist on The Big Bang Theory; she's an actual neuroscientist in real life.
The actress originally rose to fame as a teenager playing the title character in the hit NBC sitcom Blossom. However, Bialik took a 12-year break from the Hollywood spotlight in order to earn a bachelor's degree and a doctorate in neuroscience from UCLA.
Bialik explains how being a scientist has changed every aspect of her life. She said:
I struggled all the way through undergrad. And I struggled all the way through grad school as well because I’m not a natural science learner. I’m a person who wants to understand deeply the mysteries of the universe. And even if you’re a stay-at-home mom after that, even if you become an actor on a TV show, the knowledge that I have as a scientist has transformed my understanding of my religious life, my parenting life, and really everything about the world that I live in.
- Photo: Mermaids/Orion Pictures
Christina Ricci got her showbiz start at just 7 years old and made her big-screen debut two years later in 1991's Mermaids. The Generation-X prolific child actress became a gothic household name around the age of 11 when she played Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family.
Ricci opted to stay in school despite her massive big-screen movie career. However, she knew to keep the two worlds completely separate.
“I had two lives,” said Ricci. “I never spoke about work when I was at school. The first time I came back from working - when I came back from Mermaids - I realized that no one wanted to hear about my time with Cher, and that it would in fact make me a pariah in school. So I never ever spoke about it.”
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The Sixth Sense was more than just a massive box-office hit; it was a cultural sensation. M. Night Shyamalan's 1999 ghost story redefined the plot twist and made its 10-year-old lead Haley Joel Osment an Oscar nominee and bonafide movie star.
Despite his massive success as a child actor, Osment never fell into the trap door that befalls many child actors. Perhaps one reason is that The Sixth Sense was rated PG-13. “Most kids in my class didn’t even see it," said Osment.
Osment added that when he returned to fifth grade after filming, his classmates were into things like video games and the new Star Wars movie.
The young actor's parents also made sure that his education took priority over his acting career. Acting “was something I went off and did, like going to camp," said Osment in 2020.
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Tamera Mowry Said Going To College While Acting Taught Her To PrioritizePhoto: Sister, Sister/ABC
Tamera Mowry and her twin sister Tia played reunited teen twin sisters for six seasons on the ABC/The WB '90s family drama Sister, Sister. The sisters also had their own reality show called Tia and Tamera.
While Tamera and Tia were filming Sister, Sister, the twins attended Pepperdine University. Tamera gained more than just book smarts at Pepperdine.
“Tia and I were part-time at Pepperdine University,” said Tamera. “We would go to class, do a rehearsal or shoot and then come back to class. We would do two classes every other day and then the show on Thursday and Friday. I am happy I did; it taught me about prioritizing, and that education is important. It taught me dedication and hard work, too. If you put your mind to it, you can do it. It took me seven years to graduate.”