The Brightest Stars
Quick, what do Conan O'Brien and Meryl Streep have in common? The smart answer is that both are stars with remarkably high IQs. But that doesn't make them unique. Here, on Conan's 55th birthday, are 22 brainy celebrities—including some whose through-the-roof IQs will surprise you.
Conan O'Brien — IQ: 160
This shouldn't come as a shock. After all, Conan is a Harvard grad, an accomplished comedy writer and an all-around nerdy-looking dude. His IQ is reportedly 160, which puts him up there with Einstein and Stephen Hawking.
Meryl Streep — IQ: 143
One of the most acclaimed actresses of any generation, the "Devil Wears Prada" star has an impressive IQ to boot. But somehow that lofty intelligence didn't prevent her from agreeing to take a role in Robert Redford's "Lions for Lambs." Hey, even geniuses have off days. We still love her.
David Duchovny — IQ: 147
Princeton and Yale graduate David Duchovny is one of the brightest actors of the last few decades. But ducking out from "The X-Files" after Season 7 proved to be a dumb move—his career tanked shortly thereafter. Luckily Duchovny showed his smarts by returning as special agent Fox Mulder in the "X-Files" reboot. Believe.
Jayne Mansfield — IQ: 149
The star of "Too Hot to Handle" lived up to that movie title in 1963 when she appeared in a Playboy feature so racy that it got editor Hugh Hefner arrested for obscenity. She clearly had a genius for publicity.
Geena Davis — IQ: 140
We all know what happens when you say "Beetlejuice" three times, but apparently saying "genius" over and over again makes it a reality. Geena Davis is fluent in Swedish, plays a multitude of instruments and belongs to Mensa, which only admits members with an IQ at or above the 98th percentile. So do the math—or let Geena do it.
Steve Martin — IQ: 142
Not only is Steve Martin an accomplished banjo player, the credited inventor of air quotes and one of the funniest people on the planet—he's also a genius. He considered becoming a professor while studying at Cal State, but instead opted for a career that gave him the freedom to wear bunny ears or an arrow through his head. Smart choice.
Goldie Hawn — IQ: 140-plus
Don't let the bubble-headed blonde act you remember from "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" fool you. Goldie Hawn is a card-carrying member of Mensa.
Dolph Lundgren — IQ: 160
You probably never thought of the ginormous Swede from "Rocky IV" as the smartest guy in the room. But in most rooms, that would be the case. Dolph Lundgren has a master's degree in chemical engineering from the University of Sydney and won a Fulbright scholarship to MIT. Not only will he break you, he'll break down your chemical elements and tell you exactly what you're made of.
Alicia Keyes — IQ: 154
Grammy winner Alicia Keyes was her high school valedictorian (at age 16) and briefly attended Columbia University before dropping out to pursue music full-time.
Sharon Stone — IQ: 148
For years Sharon Stone maintained that, thanks to her genius-level IQ, she belonged to Mensa. Then, in 2002, the Oscar-winning actress admitted that she wasn't actually a member of the exclusive high IQ society. Still, the fact that she started college at the age of 15 is certainly impressive. Unless she made up that story, too.
Matt Damon — IQ: 160
He's the kid from Boston who co-wrote and starred in "Good Will Hunting," about an undiscovered math prodigy who cleans up around an Ivy League school. Well, maybe that role wasn't such a stretch for Matt Damon, a genius who dropped out of Harvard to become one of the most bankable actors in show business.
Lisa Kudrow — IQ: 154
What did it take to land the role of naive and dim-witted Phoebe on the wildly popular television series "Friends"? An IQ of 154 coupled with a degree in psychobiology from Vassar College. Turns out you've got to be pretty damn smart to play dumb.
Tommy Lee Jones — IQ: 135
Tommy Lee Jones graduated cum laude from Harvard, and his senior thesis examined the "mechanics of Catholicism" in the writing of Flannery O'Connor. So when he played one of Ryan O'Neal's Harvard dormmates in "Love Story," no research was required.
Cindy Crawford — IQ: 154
She was a top supermodel of the '80s and '90s, but Cindy Crawford is hardly superficial. She was the valedictorian of her high school class and briefly studied chemical engineering at Northwestern before opting for a full-time modeling career. Still stunning at 52, Crawford appeared on the Versace runway in 2017 and is currently a spokesperson for Italy's Acqua Minerale San Benedetto.
Quentin Tarantino — IQ: 160
A high school dropout, Quentin Tarantino has a reported IQ of 160, and his groundbreaking movie "Pulp Fiction" reflects that. But no one would call him an intellectual snob. "I don't believe in elitism," Tarantino once said. "I don't think the audience is this dumb person, lower than me. I am the audience."
Hedy Lamarr — IQ: Way Up There
The star of Cecile B. DeMille's 1949 blockbuster "Samson and Delilah" was promoted as "the world's most beautiful woman" during MGM's Golden Age. She was also brilliant. Born in Vienna, Hedy Lamarr invented (with composer George Antheil) a "frequency hopping" system originally aimed at preventing Nazis from jamming radio-controlled torpedoes during World War II. Her invention was a key to the development of today's cordless phone technology.
Madonna — IQ: 140
It's safe to say that Madonna is some kind of artistic genius who helped reshape pop culture throughout the '80s, '90s and into the new millennium. And her IQ has been reported to land around 140. Still, when people ask "What's her number?" that's not usually what they're referring to.
Reggie Jackson — IQ: 160
He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1993 because of his five world championships, 14 All-Star appearances, 563 home runs and .357 batting average in the month of October (hence his nickname, Mr. October). But these stats don't tell the whole story. With a reported IQ of 160, Reggie Jackson may be the smartest athlete ever to swing a bat.
Jodie Foster — IQ: 132
The actress who played a 12-year-old prostitute in "Taxi Driver" was always precocious. She was was talking at nine months and taught herself to read by the age of three. After becoming bilingual at the Lycée Francais, she took a break from Hollywood to study literature at Yale, where she graduated magna cum laude.
Nicole Kidman — IQ: 132
Poise, charm and eloquence are often associated with brainy and highly evolved people, so it's no surprise that Nicole Kidman's IQ rings in at 132. Further proof of her intelligence: When she divorced Tom Cruise, she told the court she didn't want her children raised in the Church of Scientology.
James Woods — IQ: 184
We were amazed to hear that James Woods' IQ is a staggering 184. Wanna know who told us this? James Woods. Hmmm. Well, he was accepted by MIT.
20 rapid-fire jokes from the late-night veteran famous for his ability to deliver a punchline
Many sitcom icons of the ’60s and ’70s had another image before they hit the small screen
Highlights from the classic series that brought sketch comedy to a new level
Milestones in the life of a comedy legend
Surprising offshoots of distinguished family trees
30 snapshots of the inveterate wild man and bona fide Hollywood legend