Julia Stiles Went to College Because It Made Her ‘More Interesting’

Julia Stiles is well-known to pop culture fans around the world for her work in early 2000s film classics like 10 Things I Hate About You. Stiles, who started working well before she entered her teenage years, became one of Hollywood’s most famous actors quite young – but she always managed to keep a good head on her shoulders through it all.

Julia Stiles smiling
Julia Stiles | Cindy Ord/Getty Images

Stiles even opted to return to college after rising to prominence, even telling Rolling Stone in 2001 that she believed her time at an Ivy League university would help to make her more “interesting.”

Julia Stiles became famous at a young age

Stiles was born in New York City in 1981. Raised by an artist and a teacher, Stiles became interested in acting when she was a young child.

Although neither of her parents were actors, they supported her vision, and when she was just 11 years old, Stiles started performing with New York’s La MaMa Theatre Company. By the mid-’90s, Stiles had landed small roles in several movies, including I Love You, I Love You Not, and The Devil’s Own.

According to IMDb, Stiles took her acting career very seriously, and her 1998 leading role in the film Wicked proved to critics and fans alike that she was a force to be reckoned with. In 2000, Stiles appeared in the teen comedy 10 Things I Hate About You, opposite young up-and-coming actor Heath Ledger.

The movie was a hit, and Stiles was crowned one of the reigning teen queens of Hollywood. While Stiles was immediately snapped up for leading roles in several major movies, the actor had other plans – opting to enroll at Columbia University the same year that 10 Things I Hate About You was released.

What did Julia Stiles say about college making her ‘more interesting’?

While many young stars choose to act in as many projects as possible right out of the gate, Stiles was more interested in making sure that her career progressed in the right direction. In 2001, she sat down with Rolling Stone Magazine to talk about her decision to enroll at Columbia University and study English literature.

Describing how she finds time to balance her acting work and her English studies, Stiles said, “I think about that all the time, I really do… Somehow I just do it.” According to People, Stiles went on to note “But college will help me as an actress, because it makes me more interesting.”

The Ivy League-educated actor ended up graduating from Columbia University in 2005 with a degree in English literature. Throughout her entire tenure as a student, Stiles continued acting, appearing in popular movies like Save the Last Dance, The Business of Strangers, Mona Lisa Smile, and The Omen.

What is Julia Stiles doing these days?

Over the past decade, Stiles has expanded her professional portfolio to include television roles as well, earning acclaim for her work in the series Dexter and the web series Blue. She also acted in the Bourne film franchise, a role that only solidified her status as a Hollywood heavyweight. These days, Stiles is still choosing interesting roles, with a recurring part in the Sky Atlantic series Riviera.

Stiles is part of a rare breed in Hollywood, a performer who has received an Ivy League education and who has never faltered in her unwavering dedication to professionalism and hard work. For fans, she’s also an example of how teen stardom can sometimes go right.

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