1. Nicolas Cage
Nicolas Cage, professional bee-hater and frequent stealer of American artifacts, wasn’t always the big, face-swapping action hero we know him as today – he was a quiet, geeky dude in his teens, particularly obsessed with comic books. You may not know this, but “Nicolas Cage” isn’t his real name – his actual name is Nicolas Coppola, but not wanting to leech off of the popularity of his uncle (director of The Godfather, Francis Ford Coppola), he took the stage name Nicolas Cage (in honor of Luke Cage, aka Power Man).
Beyond that, he’s set records for his level of comic book obsessiveness – Mr. Cage owned one of the most expensive comics ever published: a pristine copy of Action Comics #1, sold at auction for over $2 million. And if that wasn’t enough, he named his kid Kal-El. Kal-El Cage! Let’s hope he never needs to send the kid away on a rocket.
2. Vin Diesel
You probably know Vin Diesel best for punching things real hard and driving cars in ways that would make most physicist’s heads spin, but the dude is about as nerdy as they come. Ol’ Riddick is one of the biggest Dungeons & Dragons geeks in Hollywood – his longtime player name is Melkor (inspired by the Tolkien character, natch), and he’s even convinced other, less-nerdy stars like Dame Judi Dench to play with him.
Of course, the dude is also a huge comic book nerd too – in addition to his current role in the MCU as Groot, he’s talked up wanting to be in the upcoming Inhumans film and for a long time was campaigning to be The Vision in Avengers: Age of Ultron.
And if that STILL weren’t enough, Diesel is a massive videogame fan, even creating his own development studio – Tigon Studios. Remember how Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay was pretty surprisingly awesome and not just a cheap tie-in game? That’s all thanks to Mr. Diesel wanting games based on his movies to not suck.
And if you REALLY need convincing that Vin Diesel is the geekiest dude in the universe, check out his Facebook page – filled with fan art of himself as various characters, fan art that incorporates his D&D obsession, and more weird stuff that definitely woulda gotten me beaten up in high school.
3. Rashida Jones
Sure, Jim Halpert’s True Soul-Mate (Rashida Jones) SAYS stuff like she was a “straight-up nerd. I had a computer with floppy disks and a dial-up modem before it was cool,” but was she legitimately the kind of nerdy we typically think of-
Oh. Wow. Okay, yeah.
Beyond being into computers, reading, and your general assortment of nerdy hobbies, Jones says she “never drank, I never smoked, I never smoked weed. I was president of the varsity club and was on the math team and then student government. I was in every activity.”
Now what’s she doing? Oh, just writing comic books and the new Toy Story movie. AKA…living the Nerd Dream.
4. Natalie Portman
Natalie Portman has done a lot since bursting onto the scene as a junior assassin protege in Leon: The Professional, but – despite having prominent roles in the Star Wars prequels, V for Vendetta, and the Thor films – doesn’t immediately come off as a big nerd. The media has wildly misconstrued Ms. Portman, who’s way nerdier than you realize.
Beyond being more or less a genius (4.0 high school GPA, went to Harvard, competed in the Intel Science Talent Search semifinals), she’s even authored scientific papers, including one called “A Simple Method To Demonstrate the Enzymatic Production of Hydrogen from Sugar”.
Here’s something pretty mind-blowing – she skipped the premiere of The Phantom Menace (the first Star Wars film in decades, and one of her biggest films ever) so that she could study for finals. HIGH SCHOOL finals, not even college ones. That’s pretty much the only thing nerdier than going to see a new Star Wars movie opening night – skipping the Star Wars movie to STUDY FOR TESTS.
5. Megan Fox
Don’t hold TMNT and the Transformers movies against her (continue holding them against Michael Bay), Megan Fox is a legit nerd.
“I’m a ‘Lord of the Rings’ fan. And I’ll go on the forums and they’ll complain that Frodo is eating the Lembas bread outside of Mordor instead of in the Mines of Moria. And they get really mad… You cannot focus completely on pleasing them because you’ll never win.”
Getting mad about Lord of the Rings on the internet? Me and Megan Fox are pretty much two peas in a pod.
6. Asia Carrera
Don’t pretend like you don’t know who Asia Carrera is. We all know who Asia Carrera is. Odds are she’s spent some time in an Incognito tab of yours at some point – but for the 8 of you who are genuinely confused as to who she is, she’s an incredibly prolific retired porn star (having starred in upwards of 400 films)…who also happens to be a bigtime nerd.
Not only was she an accomplished pianist by high school (playing Carnegie Hall), a state spelling champion (to be fair, it was New Jersey), and involved in a huge other number of nerdy high school pursuits, but all of this eventually led to her getting a full scholarship to Rutgers University, where she double-majored in Japanese and business. So yeah, she’s smart.
She’s also a serious gamer (PC MASTER RACE, no less) – of the Unreal LAN party persuasion (actual tag: megabitchgoddess).
7. Kanye West
Yeezy himself is known for his larger-than-life personality and outrageous antics, but at heart, he’s just your run-of-the-mill otaku. Perhaps it was a childhood largely spent in China that led him to embrace more Asian-centric media, but the dude has been an anime geek since his school days.
That’s not to say he’s left his love of anime behind though. In a long since deleted tweet, Kanye debates the merits of Spirited Away vs. Akira, with his clear preference being Akira (which is fair).
How much does Kanye love Akira? Well, you may notice a lot of verrrrrrry noticeable homages in his video for Stronger:
8. Rosario Dawson
Though she’s got some geek credentials on her resume with roles in Sin City and Clerks II, the real-life Rosario Dawson has nerd baked into her DNA. She’s famous for being a huge Trekkie, to the point where she can understand and speak Klingon. Though she’s not entirely fluent, she knows more Klingon words than you do.
Dawson also spearheaded her own comic book series, O.C.T.: Occult Crimes Taskforce, which is basically a supernatural version of Men in Black starring kickass ladies. She’s always been very up-front about her respect for nerd culture. “Geek to me is a really exclusive, really particular type of club, and it’s been really nice to be included. To be called a geek so much lately has been kind of fascinating. I’ve always wanted to be a geek.”
9. Danica McKellar
Most people would probably call it a day after they became The Girl Next Door for an entire generation, but not Danica McKellar. After bewitching budding Fred Savages across the nation as Winnie Cooper in The Wonder Years, McKellar got into mathematics. Like, really, really into it.
So far she’s written four books aimed at explaining math in a way that doesn’t melt your brain. With titles like “Math Doesn’t Suck: How to Survive Middle School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail,” they’re definitely aimed at young girls, but that’s key to her master plan of kicking down nerd gender barriers.
10. Ice T
From his days in controversial metal band Body Count to playing a hard-nosed detective on Law and Order: SVU, rapper Ice-T has built his empire on his badass persona. But underneath his patented death glare is a hardcore gamer that’s been around since his teenage years.
Ice-T hasn’t tried to hide his affection for his pasttime. He’s gone as far as to call out gamers out from his Twitter handle @FinalLevel, and he’s posted Call of Duty unboxing videos on YouTube. Even on his reality show Ice Loves Coco, he can often found playing video games like Gears of War (a move which got him cast as an in-game character in Gears of War 3).
You can catch Ice-T slinging dirt on his own podcast, where he talks about his nerdy interests like movies, video games and the fact that he has his own podcast.