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Q: Nerdy Celebrities ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: Nerdy Celebrities
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Celebrities
Asked by: meggie-ga
List Price: $15.00
Posted: 30 May 2003 10:59 PDT
Expires: 29 Jun 2003 10:59 PDT
Question ID: 210770
I would like a list of about 10 famous "cool" celebrities who used to
be nerds, geeks, dweebs, or dorks when they were growing up. The
people can either be current or past celebrities, and I'd like a mix
of male and female. The key is they have to be really mainstream now,
easily recognizable by junior-high aged kids. For example, Michael
Jordan would be a good one because every kid knows him and he's really
cool. Bill Gates wouldn't be a good example because he's still a nerd,
even though he's famous. : )
Subject: Re: Nerdy Celebrities
Answered By: journalist-ga on 30 May 2003 12:47 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Greetings Meggie:

Sadly, I don't know who is popular with junior high students these
days but I did find you more than ten references that I believe will
fit your criteria and I am hoping that at least 10 of the 20 below
will meet your qualifications.

From an Anthony Hopkins interview at

"PLAYBOY: How old were you? 

HOPKINS: I was 14. In 1953 I was reading Trotsky's History of the
Russian Revolution and I was asked if I was Communist or a Marxist. I
didn't know what they were talking about. The book was taken away from
me. Then some of the kids would call me "bolshi, bolshi, bolshi." I
went completely into myself. I thought I would defy them all. That has
stayed with me the rest of my life, the thought that I would show them
all one day. And that's why I became an actor.

PLAYBOY: Did you hate the classmates who teased you? 

HOPKINS: I hated the rejection, I hated being sneered at by other
kids. I get a recurring dream that I'm outside of the group. I don't
belong and they show me that I don't belong. It's about going back to
school--or it could be among a group of adults in a dream--and they
turn on me, humiliate me, and I wake up. It's so vivid, it takes me a
few minutes to realize that it was a dream."

Also "Sir Anthony Hopkins' lonely youth gave him the confidence to
become an outspoken star. The Welsh actor was dyslexic and hated
rugby, and so was treated as an outcast in his native land - but he
claims the treatment from his peers gave him just what he needed to
become a movie star."



"By puberty, she towered above most of the other girls and boys in her
class and thought of herself as "the ugliest person alive on earth."
"I'd be teased about going off to the theater instead of the beach
with everyone else."
"I felt like an outsider, but it is character building not to be a
pretty child who just bats her eyes and gets her way."


""In school, teachers complained about [Walt Disney's] doodling and
daydreaming. They said he seemed 'unwilling to conform to the ordinary
methods of learning.' ... A key to his success was his realization
that his creativity was worth gold. He guarded it carefully." [from
"Imagineer Walt Disney" by Adrienne Fox, Investor's Business Daily,
March 9, 1998]"


""When I was 15 I went to college half a day while I went to high
school, and I tutored algebra to other kids in my high school. So I
never got to be on a peer level relationship with the kids I went to
school with. I was like, you know, that weird girl. I cannot believe I
did not know that I was a pretty girl. I was so insecure and so
intimidated and so introverted."  Sharon Stone  [Toronto Sun,


From From
""Everybody thought I was weird... that I wanted to pursue [acting].
.. Lilian Gish [did not encourage me]...when I was twelve I wrote to
her and said that I wanted to become an actress and what was her


"[Cameron Diaz, Denise Richards and Gisele Bundchen]...a whole host of
celebrities were tortured at school with unpleasant nicknames. 
Schoolyard tormentors called Diaz Skeletor, Richards Fish Lips and
Bundchen Olive Oyl.
"Whoopi Goldberg, born Caryn Johnson, was called Whoopi Cushion as a
kid because of her constant flatulence.. Bundchen's boyfriend Leonardo
DiCaprio was nicknamed Leonardo Retardo because of his habit of
cheating off classmates' papers.
"Celine Dion's long fangs earned her the moniker Canine Dion,
full-lipped Julianna Margulies was branded Flounder Mouth, Lara Flynn
Boyle was Lara Flame Broiled, and Nicole Kidman was Storky because of
her height.
"Robert De Niro's pallid complexion earned him the nickname Bobby Milk
in his Greenwich Village neighbourhood, and Keanu Reeves' blank stare
made him The Wall.
"[ Celebrity News: July 24, 2001]"


""Seventh grade was horrible. I was teased relentlessly because I was
chubby. Then in the summer I lost all this weight, and all of a sudden
everybody liked me. It was weird, because then I didn't trust anybody.
...But I'm actually oddly thankful for a lot of these things, because
when I was really teased and tortured and all these things, it made me
really ambitious. It made me work hard. Friends weren't something that
I could rely on, but my love for performing was always a constant."
Zooey Deschanel [Mean 3/4.2001]"


SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR [Buffy the Vampire Killer]
"I've always been the nerdy, geekish outsider who still remembers how
a lot of my classmates used to torture me. Buffy made me a stronger
person. Growing up, I always felt different from other kids and they
would always tease me about my work in commercials or TV as a way of
putting me down. All the success that the series - Buffy - has enjoyed
has erased a lot of self-doubts that I grew up with. I don't feel like
the nerd or the loser any more. "  Sarah Michelle Gellar [ / 8.1.01]


"I think that we all - if we acknowledge it - have felt isolated in
some way. Certainly, I identify with that feeling of not fitting in. I
was never the cheerleader. I wasn't in Girl Scouts. My parents weren't
friends with all the other parents in school; they weren't part of the
group. So I identify with [book character] Timmy... in feeling out of
the ordinary. Many of us have felt like we're pointed at, or whispered
about, or out of the circle. Maria Shriver[LA Times Nov 14 2001]"


"It catapulted me back to the first time I read 'Catcher in the Rye'
and I discovered I was not the only person who knew what it was like
to be lonely and alienated." Winona Ryder, speaking of the book Girl,
Interrupted [LA Times, 12.10.9]"


"One of my defining moments came in the third grade - the day a book
report I'd turned in earned my teacher's praise and made my classmates
whisper, "She thinks she's so smart -Oprah Winfrey.. [O, The Oprah
Magazine, Feb 2003] "



[just a quote in general]
"Buddy Holly, Jerry Seinfeld, James Dean and Albert Einstein all are
in the nerd ranks, having either been tormented for their
intelligence, size or Coke bottle glasses."

I found a wonderful quote (not attributed to anyone) at
"You all laughed at me because I was different, I laughed at you
because you were all the same."

Of course, a good fictional "celebrity" would be the Grinch.  From'_How_The_Grinch_Stole_Christmas64.html:
"Story Line: As a young boy at school in Whoville, the Grinch was
teased and made fun of because he had a chipmunk looking green face,
while the other kids were white or brown with sharply turned up noses.
The constant teasing sours him on the community, so as an adult, he is
a recluse living on Mount Crumpit, just outside of town."
He eventually saves the town *and* gets the girl.  :)

Should you require clarification of any of the links or information I
have provided, please request it and I will be happy to respond.


"i was different" actor
"i was different" actress
"i was different" writer
"i was different" singer
"i was different" albert einstein
"i was different" ashley judd
meggie-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00
This is wonderful! More than I expected. I really thought I'd get just
a list of 10 names, but I also got all that nerdy evidence! I
shouldn't have underestimated a Google Researcher. Thanks!

Subject: Re: Nerdy Celebrities
From: journalist-ga on 30 May 2003 13:20 PDT
Thank you for your rating, comments and added generosity!  

To add to the above list, my colleague, PinkFreud, emailed me with the
name of Anthony Michael Hall.  He is now the star of the series "The
Dead Zone" but was apparently a nerdy guy.  Please see where
it is written "Once the geeky star of Sixteen Candles and The
Breakfast Club, Hall has matured into a handsome, self-assured
33-year-old intent on making an impression on Hollywood. He recently
appeared in Tom Green's Freddy Got Fingered."
Subject: Re: Nerdy Celebrities
From: journalist-ga on 30 May 2003 13:55 PDT
ADDENDUM:  As I was rereading the answer, I recalled that Tom Cruise
is dyslexic and suffered teasing because of it when he were young. 
Here's a list of sites I found searching "famous dyslexics" - no doubt
theye were all teased about it at some point in their lives:

Also, I found a cool celebrity quiz made by a teacher at
regarding celebrity dyslexics but no answer key is given.

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