A college degree is not a must for people who want to pursue a career in entertainment, but some of Hollywood’s biggest stars still have one. Is that the case with Ricky Gervais?
Stick around to learn more about Gervais’ time at college and meet some more Hollywood superstars with a degree in philosophy.
Ricky Gervais’ College Journey
Ricky Gervais pursued higher education at University College London, one of the most prestigious universities in the UK. He enrolled in 1980 and initially planned to study biology because he was passionate about animals from an early age.
His classes were much more demanding than he first anticipated, and Gervais started wondering if he made the right choice after realizing he’d have to attend classes for forty hours a week. Two weeks later, he decided to switch majors and opted for philosophy instead.
Gervais felt this is the best way to move forward because he already went “through a Marxist phase” at 16, and his schedule wouldn’t be so grueling. He earned his upper second-class honors degree in 1983 and continued pursuing other interests.
Grade boundaries for honors degrees in the UK vary from institution to institution, but Gervais probably wasn’t top of his class at UCL. Upper second-class degrees are usually reserved for students who have a grade average below 70%, but he never discussed this matter publicly.
Even if his grades weren’t perfect, Gervais seemed to have a pretty good college experience. He met his long-time partner Jane Fallon while studying at UCL and started the new wave band Seona Dancing during his final year of college.
Gervais tried to make it as a musician after graduating, but it wasn’t meant to be. Seona Dancing released two failed singles before splitting up, and he worked as an assistant events manager for London’s student union.
Gervais later secured a job at the alternative radio station Xfm, where he met Stephen Merchant. They went on to co-create the British version of The Office and worked on several other projects over the years.
Celebrities with Philosophy Degrees
If you think that Ricky Gervais is the only Hollywood star with a philosophy degree – think again! Many famous actors, musicians, filmmakers, and television hosts studied the same subject during their time at college.
Before playing Han Solo and Indiana Jones, Harrison Ford was fully committed to his education at Ripon College in Wisconsin. He discovered his passion for acting while taking drama classes at this school but was actually a philosophy major.
Steve Martin also studied philosophy at California State University, Long Beach. He was so fascinated with the subject that he considered becoming a professor instead of pursuing a career in comedy.
Bruce Lee enrolled at the University of Washington during the early ‘60s and studied several subjects – including dramatic arts, philosophy, and psychology. It’s a common misconception that he majored in philosophy, but there’s evidence that he opted for drama instead.
The Grammy-nominated artist Lana Del Rey is another famous star with a philosophy degree. She studied the subject at Fordham University in the Bronx and developed an interest in metaphysics during her time at college.
Some of Hollywood’s most successful filmmakers also saw value in studying philosophy in their youth. The Oscar-winning director Ethan Coen majored in this subject at Princeton University, while his brother Joel took part in a film program at NYU.
Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Nic Pizzolatto (True Detective), Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker) all earned philosophy degrees, while Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life) even taught the subject at one point after graduating from Harvard.Philosophy is also a popular subject among TV personalities. The beloved game show host Alex Trebek earned his philosophy degree at the University of Ottawa, while talk show host and comedian Chris Hardwick pursued his own at UCLA.