Famous acrors, former boarders

Who is the best actor to graduate from a boarding school?

Boarding schools focus on arts in a way few other schools can permit. Students can immerse themselves in rehearsals and mock performances, spending way too much time on stage if that's what they want to do. The demands of a boarding environment drive students to take things to a higher level and many of the best actors in history have honed their craft within the walls of a boarding school.

Jump into boarding school and you'll allow yourself the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of many great actors who cut their teeth in boarding school. (Elsewhere, we also discuss great actresses who have graduated from boarding school.)

The nominees for best actor from a boarding school:

Humphrey Bogart

Humphrey Bogart is a legendary persona, a cultural icon, ranked by The American Film Institute as the greatest male star in the history of American cinema. He graduated from Phillips Academy in Andover, MA, one of the most famous boarding schools in America.

Bogart appeared in over 75 films. Many of those, including The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca and The Treasure of The Sierra Madre are ranked among the greatest films of all time. He is also probably the most-impersonated personality of all time.

James Stewart

James Stewart, screen legend, graduated from Mercersburg Academy in Mercersburg, PA. Among the many classic movies Stewart has appeared in, you can't ignore Rear Window, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and the perennial Christmas favourite, It's a Wonderful Life.

Stewart won two Academy Awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award. He was named the third Greatest Male Star of All Time by the American Film Institute and is the most represented Lead Actor on AFI's Top 100 Films of All Time. Finally, he was universally described by his peers as kind, soft-spoken and a true professional.

Daniel Day-Lewis

Daniel Day-Lewis, whose legend grows with every role (even if those are few and far between) attended Bedales School, an English school that combines day and boarding. He enjoyed his time at the "liberal and let it all hang out" school renowned for its strengths in art and drama.

He has won two Best Actor Academy Awards so far in his career, for My Left Foot (1989) and There Will Be Blood (2007), despite only appearing in five films in the last ten years.

Michael Douglas

Michael Douglas graduated from Choate-Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, CT, in 1963. The son of screen legend Kirk Douglas, Michael has won Oscars as a producer (for 1975's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) and as an actor, for Wall Street in 1988.

Douglas has done action, drama and comedy in films as wide-ranging (and widely successful) as Fatal Attraction, Romancing the Stone, Black Rain and The Wonder Boys.

Peter Fonda

Peter Fonda, star of Easy Rider, Ulee's Gold, The Wild Angels, 3:10 to Yuma (and dozens of lesser films), is a counter-culture icon. He's also famous as the son of Henry, brother of Jane and the father of Bridget.

Fonda attended the Westminster School in Connecticut, while his father was in Midway, filming the classic Mister Roberts.


Attend boarding school and you might find yourself rooming with the Next Big Thing... if you yourself are not in fact the Next Big Thing.

Great Canadians, Great schools

Canadian boarding schools have produced a number of famous faces. Here's a look at three actors you might not have known were once Canuck boarders.

Kiefer Sutherland

Long before Kiefer Sutherland became a TV legend as Jack Bauer in 24, or playing lead roles in movies like The Lost Boys and Flatliners, the Emmy-winning son of Canadian acting legend Donald Sutherland attended St. Andrew's College in Aurora, Ontario.

He dropped out of (and in fact, never graduated from) St. Andrew's when he landed his first acting role.

Matthew Perry

Matthew Perry graduated from Ashbury College, where he was bitten by the acting bug, appearing in several stage productions there. Incidentally, he was also a top-ranked junior tennis player in Canada.

Most famous for his role as Chandler Bing on the long-running TV show Friends, Perry has also appeared in hit movies including 17 Again and The Whole Nine Yards.

Brendan Fraser

Brendan Fraser has starred in numerous popcorn movies like The Mummy Returns, Dudley Do-Right and Looney Tunes: Back in Action but not everything he has done has been bad. He was highly acclaimed for roles in Gods and Monsters and School Ties (which interestingly enough took place inside a prep school in the 1950's).

Fraser attended Upper Canada College in Toronto.

More greats

The list of other actors who have attended boarding school is lengthy.

Other famous actors who have graduated from boarding school include:

  • David Carradine of Kung Fu and Kill Bill attended several boarding schools
  • Steve Carrell, The Office (TV show) and The 40 Year Old Virgin, attended Middlesex School in Concord, MA
  • Ted Danson of Cheers (TV) attended Kent School, Kent, CT
  • Benicio Del Toro of Sin City and Traffic also attended Mercersburg Academy, Mercersburg, PA
  • Paul Giamatti (Sideways, Barney's Version) also graduated from Choate Rosemary Hall (1985)
  • James VanDerBeek, Dawson's Creek (TV) attended Cheshire Academy in Cheshire, CT

All images courtesy of wikimedia commons.

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