They tell you to stay in school — but that advice fell on deaf ears for some celebrities, and needless to say, it all worked out for them in the end. See which stars found success despite dropping out of class.
Growing up, the Oscar-winner struggled through classes, but found acting to be a piece of cake. “It’s so hard to explain, it was just an overwhelming feeling of, ‘I get this. This is what I was meant to do,'” she said of first discovering her talent. To pursue acting, Jennifer “dropped out of middle school” at age 14. “I don’t technically have a GED or a diploma,” she admitted. “I am self-educated.”
The funny man parted ways with Point Grey Secondary School at age 16, as he landed his first role in the short-lived comedy Freaks and Geeks. He also had no interest in getting a real education, explaining, “If you have a career in mind that isn’t academically oriented, then high school is probably not going to lead you to what you want to be.”
Seth on the set of Freaks and Geeks in 1999.
Despite her strict and religious upbringing, the singer‘s parents allowed her to leave J. J. Pearce High School when she was 16 to get a kickstart on her music career. She later earned her GED.
The actress barely had a normal childhood as she became an overnight superstar at just seven years old when she landed the role in E.T. the Extra Terrestrial. Her career continued to surge, leaving her no time for school. Unfortunately, the star got in over head, and she wound up in rehab by age 13. After completing the program, she chose not to return to school.
Drew in 1984.
Back in the day, the actor balanced school with his role on The Mickey Mouse Club, but by age 17, he wanted to solely focus on showbiz, which is why he dropped out of Lester B. Pearson High School. “I was doing very badly in school,” he said. “[The school] started feathering me into some special-education classes and things like that. I mean, I remember playing chess with a kid who was eating his queen, you know.”
At 15, the actor decided to part ways with education — though at the time, he was interested in becoming a musician, not an actor. Soon after dropping out, he second-guessed making such a big move. “I thought, ‘You know what? This is crazy, I should go back,'” he reminisced. “I went back and I spoke to the dean of the school and he said, ‘I know that you have this music thing… That’s your passion, so you should go with that.'”
Johnny, 17, with Elton John in 1980.
Robert Downey Jr.
Ironman himself wasn’t a fan of homework and tests, and it showed, as he often wound up in trouble at Santa Monica High School. When the star was 15, his dad told him, “either show up [to school] every day or quit and get a job.” RDJ chose the latter, and then moved with his dad to NYC where he pursued acting.
In his junior year at John Marshall High School, the ladies man dropped out in favor of attending a free drama center. In no time at all, he landed a recurring role on the ’80s sitcom Growing Pains, and he also went on to receive his GED.
Leo with Growing Pains co-star Kirk Cameron in 1991.
At 16 years old, the star dropped out of Long Beach Polytechnic High School to start modeling. Fun fact: The actress used to walk the same hallways as Snoop Dogg! “He was a year older than me….I remember him, he was very tall and skinny. He wore lots of ponytails,” she recalled. “I’m pretty sure I bought weed from him.”
As soon as the crooner auditioned for The X Factor in 2010, it was safe to say he would never return to Holmes Chapel Comprehensive School, as his music career with One Direction took off immediately.
Harry in 2010.
The Oscar-winner left South Pasadena High School at age 15 due to her ADHD struggles and lack of interest in learning. “I felt like such an outsider. I didn’t feel like I fit in. I didn’t belong in any way,” she explained. “I didn’t even feel like the teachers wanted me there. I just felt like I wasn’t seen or understood.”