To become a great actor or actress means so much more than being able to memorize lines or getting into character quickly. Acting education at institutions such as Yale University, University of Manchester, and Strasberg Acting school in NYC has aided actors and actresses around the world in becoming masters of the stage and big screen. Here are 10 actors (and actresses) that have been professionally trained by top universities in the United Kingdom and the United States.
Angela Bassett is a Golden Globe winner and most commonly known for her roles in Black Panther, American Horror Story, and The Rosa Parks Story. Following high school, she attended Yale University and received a BA degree in African-American studies and Master of Fine Arts degree from Yale School of Drama. After college, she began looking for acting work in New York, where her first performance was in J. E. Franklin’s Black Girl. Later on (in 2018), she was awarded an honorary doctoral degree in Fine Arts from Yale University.
Better known for his roles as Detective Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Strange, Benedict Cumberbatch was initially trained as an art scholar at Harrow School, where he was also a member of The Rattigan Society, a club for the dramatic arts. Following Harrow, he studied Drama at the University of Manchester and was professionally trained as an actor at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, where he received a Master of Arts in Classical Acting. Currently, he is portraying Doctor Strange in future Marvel Movies and the Grinch in The Grinch.
Tom Hiddleston is popularly known for playing Loki in many Marvel movies and is a BAFTA nominated actor. He started his acting career by attending the University of Cambridge for Classic Studies and starred in a production of A Streetcar Named Desire. Soon after, he attended and graduated at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art for Acting.
Patrick Stewart is a popular actor, most commonly known for his role as Professor Xavier in X-Men and Captain Picard in Star Trek. Stewart received professional acting training at Crowlees Church of England Junior and Infants School and later on at Mirfield Secondary Modern School. Soon after, he began taking on roles at a local theater and attended the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.
Chiwetel Ejiofor is best known for his roles as Karl Mordo in Doctor Strange, Owke in Dirty Little Things, and Dr. Vincent Kapoor in The Martian. He began his acting career in junior school, Dulwich Prep London, where he starred in Hamlet. Soon after, he enrolled in Dulwich College and joined the National Youth Theatre. He then attended the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, but left after being cast in Steven Spielberg’s Amistad.
Best known as Robb Stark in Game of Thrones and Prince Kit in Disney’s Cinderella, Richard Madden first made his mark in acting while attending the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. During his stay at RSAMD, he worked with Arches and Glasgow Repertory Company and was cast as Romeo by Globe Theatre in their rendition of Romeo and Juliet. In 2014, Madden received his first Screen Actors Guild (SAG) card for his role in the miniseries, Klondike.
Jeremy Irons, popularly known for his roles in The Winter’s Tales and Macbeth at West End Theatre Products, was professionally trained as an actor at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. Later on, he transferred to Wyndham’s Theatre and played a record number of performances (1,128). He is also a Golden Globe winner for his role in Elizabeth I and has previously been awarded the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Reversal of Fortune. Recently, he took on the role as Alfred in Batman v. Superman and in Justice League.
Eve Myles is a Welch actress, best known for her roles in Doctor Who, Torchwood, and Belonging. She received professional training as an actress at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Acting. Additionally, Myles is a BAFTA winner for Best Actress for her role in Torchwood. She was also honored with a fellowship from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
John Lithgow is an actor, comedian, and musician that’s most commonly known for his roles in Interstellar, Footloose, The Crown, and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. He attended Harvard College and graduated with an A. B. magna cum laude in History and Literature. He later performed at Harvard for Utopia Limited, which ultimately made him decide to pursue an acting career. He later won a Fulbright Scholarship to study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. Following his graduation, he became the Director of the Arts and Literature Department at WBAI. John Lithgow has also earned many Grammy nominations for his roles in children’s entertainment and two Parents’ Choice Silver Honor Awards.
Most commonly known for his roles in The Omen, Star Trek, and Tron, David Warner is an English actor who was professionally trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. Prior, he attended Feldon School, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire. Warner is well known for his romantic and sinister roles and made his acting debut in Royal Court Theatre’s, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
These days, it takes so much more to become an incredible actor or actress than merely being able to act organically. Plus, doing so takes years of practice and skill. Hopefully, by reviewing some of these famous actors and learn how they were professionally trained, can inspire you to follow in their footsteps. Although college isn’t for everyone, it is a great way to improve your acting skills and can even help you land a few auditions.
About The Author
Olivia Wolfe became “hooked” on Broadway as a teenager, after attending Phantom of the Opera for the first time, and she’s been writing about theatre and film ever since. Currently, Olivia works with an acting school in NYC, spends her free time attending plays and watching the latest blockbusters, and she shares her passion by contributing to numerous acting blogs.