25 Surprising Celebrities Who Got Expelled From School
For many of us, celebrities are aspirational figures, presenting a seemingly ideal state of being that we dream of living up to. In reality, though, famous people are still just people like the rest of us, with all the flaws that go along with it – including, in some instances, a knack for getting in trouble.
Take the following superstars, who were badly behaved enough to get kicked out of school as youngsters.
25. Salma Hayek
Actress Salma Hayek started out her career in Mexican telenovela Teresa, before breaking through to the big time with Desperado and From Dusk Till Dawn. This paved the way to her becoming one of the most famous actresses of her generation, and an Oscar nominee for 2002’s Frida (which she also produced).
Hayek didn’t get off to such a great start, however. As a teen, she attended a strict Catholic boarding school in Louisiana, but wound up being expelled after two years. This is after she reportedly used to play pranks on the nuns, such as setting their alarm clocks back three hours.
24. Robert Pattinson
Robert Pattinson became a teen heartthrob when he starred as vampire Edward Cullen in the Twilight series. In more recent years he’s enjoyed critical acclaim as an actor before venturing back into blockbuster territory with The Batman. Given his early years, though, you might not have thought he was bound for the big time.
In a 2017 interview with Howard Stern, Pattinson revealed he got thrown out of school because the faculty frowned upon the young man’s business enterprise: stealing pornographic magazines from newsagents, then selling them to other kids.
23. Owen Wilson
Owen Wilson has enjoyed great success as an actor, as well as being an Oscar-nominated screenwriter for The Royal Tenenbaums. He’s gone through tough times personally, struggling with depression and surviving a suicide attempt, but he’s since come back strong with TV’s Loki.
In the 10th grade, Wilson was expelled from St Mark’s School of Texas after he was caught cheating on a geometry exam, using his teacher’s textbook to copy the answers. For punishment, Wilson was sent to military school in New Mexico to finish the last two years of high school.
22. Keanu Reeves
As famous as he is for his roles in The Matrix, Bill & Ted and John Wick, Keanu Reeves is most celebrated for being an amazingly kind and compassionate human being. This being the case, it may come as a surprise that Reeves was a bit rougher in his younger years.
Moving around a lot as a teen, Reeves recalls he “went to four different high schools in five years,” and wound up at a school where he “didn’t fit in. I had conflicts and run-ins with the staff… I asked too many questions about everything. I couldn’t stop even if it got me into trouble.” This ultimately led to Reeves’ expulsion, which he found “very upsetting.”
21. Ryan Gosling
Canadian actor Ryan Gosling started out as a child actor on Disney Channel’s The Mickey Mouse Club before breaking into such varied films as The Notebook, Drive and La La Land. Things were trickier in his youth, however, as Gosling struggled with ADHD.
Aged just six, Gosling got suspended from school after he saw the original Rambo movie First Blood, and emulated his hero by bringing steak knives into school. As a result of this Gosling underwent psychological evaluation and was home-schooled from then on.
20. Richard Branson
If anyone could be used as proof that you don’t need school to succeed, it’s surely Richard Branson, billionaire businessman and founder of the mighty Virgin corporation. As well as having dyslexia, Branson’s academic performance was adversely affected by his tendency toward rule-breaking.
In his autobiography, Branson revealed that he was kicked out of Cliff View House boarding school when he was caught sneaking out of the principal’s daughter’s bedroom. When he cheekily admitted this to the principal the next day, Branson’s parents were called and he was sent to pack his bags.
19. Willem Dafoe
Willem Dafoe is a talented, versatile actor with a career dating back decades, his repertoire extending from Jesus in The Last Temptation of Christ to the Green Goblin in the Spider-Man movies. However, it was a rather different film that got him expelled from school.
As an assignment, Dafoe was making a documentary in which he interviewed a number of fellow students with unusual perspectives, including a Satanist, a nudist and an advocate for the legalisation of marijuana. When teachers caught a glimpse of some of Dafoe’s raw footage, he was accused of making pornography and prompted kicked out of school.
18. Snoop Dogg
Here is another x-rated incident that led to the rapper Snoop Dogg being expelled. He used to attend Cleveland Elementary School for Gifted Children, but was shown the door on grounds of indecent exposure, aged just 10 or 11.
The rapper says, “They kicked me out the second year ’cause I showed a little girl my little thang! I was in the lunch line and she said something to me real crazy and I didn’t know how to defend myself, so I just unzipped my zipper.”
17. Albert Einstein
That’s right, one of the greatest geniuses of all time didn’t do well at school. The precocious future physics pioneer was not held in high regard by his teachers, who deemed him “slow” in his early years, and too rebellious in his teens.
While he excelled in mathematics and sciences down the line, he often got in trouble for clashing with his teachers. While he was not actually expelled, Einstein wound up dropping out of school in frustration and continued his scientific education on his own.
16. Stephen Fry
British comedian Stephen Fry is a national treasure, renowned for his high intelligence and sharp wit, which helped immeasurably in his long-standing role as the host of quiz show Q.I. It’s hard to think that Stephen could ever put a foot wrong, but he did in his youth.
Always one to go the extra mile, Fry was kicked out of not one school, but two. He was first expelled from Uppingham boarding school for truancy, and later sent packing from another when he spent three months in a juvenile detention centre after stealing a credit card.
15. Marlon Brando
After breaking through with then-controversial teen rebel classic The Wild One, Marlon Brando went on to become arguably the most acclaimed American actor of the 20th century. An early proponent of method acting, his other classics include On the Waterfront, The Godfather and Apocalypse Now.
In-keeping with his famous breakthrough role as a bad boy biker, Brando was expelled from Libertyville High School for perhaps the coolest offence imaginable: riding his motorcycle through the corridors. He was later sent to Shattuck Military Academy, where he also butted heads with his superiors.
14. Amy Winehouse
The late, great Amy Winehouse is one of the great rock’n’roll casualties of recent history. The English singer-songwriter enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame and acclaim that was tragically derailed by the drug and alcohol addiction that would ultimately end her life in 2011, when she was just 27.
From a young age, Winehouse had a tendency to get in trouble. She spent some time attending the Sylvia Young Theatre School in Marylebone, London, but was expelled when she was 14 for getting tattoos and having her nose pierced.
13. Jon Bon Jovi
Singer, guitarist and songwriter Jon Bon Jovi (born John Francis Bongiovi Jr.) rose to fame as the founder and frontman of his eponymous rock band, Bon Jovi. The New Jersey rockers got together in 1983 and soon became one of the biggest rock acts around, a status they enjoyed well into the 90s.
Again, most rock musicians have a tendency to live a little on the wild side. This was no exception for Bon Jovi, who was expelled from school at an early age for slapping a fellow classmate – who happened to be a girl. Not quite the sort of behaviour we’d expect from a rocker who would later become a housewife’s favourite.
12. Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton is widely considered one of the greatest, most influential guitar heroes of all time. After breaking through in 1963 with rhythm and blues band The Yardbirds, the English musician went on to form supergroup Cream before enjoying even greater success as a solo artist.
It was his unrelenting love and need to play the guitar that got Clapton expelled. He attended Kingston College of Art as a teenager, but he would continue to play the instrument in class, ignoring his work. Eventually his teachers had enough and kicked him out.
British singer-songwriter Adele rose from humble beginnings in London, England to become one of the biggest-selling recording artists of all time. Before she sold upwards of 120 million records, Adele Laurie Blue Adkins attended the BRIT School for Performing Arts in Croydon – but things almost went wrong.
Although Adele did not wind up being expelled, she came close. She was once suspended for fighting (over whether pop singer Will Young was better than Gareth Gates!), whilst her position at the school was also threatened by her general tardiness and negligence.
10. Johnny Rotten
Punk pioneer John Lydon (AKA Johnny Rotten) is one of the most notoriously confrontational characters in rock history. Initially the singer with the short-lived but hugely influential Sex Pistols, Lydon went on to front the more experimental Public Image Ltd. His angry, outspoken persona isn’t just an act.
Born to Irish parents, Lydon was sent to Catholic school, where his rebellious nature quickly got him in hot water. He was told off for growing his hair long, and ultimately expelled at 15 after answering back to too many teachers. He went on to attend college, but never completed his education after getting into music.
9. Guy Ritchie
Guy Ritchie is an English film director, who rose to fame in the late 90s with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. After rejuvenating the British gangster movie, Ritchie moved into blockbusters, calling the shots on the Sherlock Holmes films and Aladdin.
Early in life, Ritchie didn’t necessarily seem bound for such big things. After already dropping out of one illustrious private school, Ritchie attended another such institution of learning in Oxbridge. He was expelled at 16, reportedly after being caught using drugs.
8. Lewis Hamilton
British racing driver Lewis Hamilton exploded into Formula One in 2007 and has become one of the most successful drivers in the sport. He too got into trouble at school – but unlike the others on this list, Hamilton’s expulsion was a miscarriage of justice that was ultimately overruled.
Hamilton was mistakenly expelled after another pupil was attacked and needed hospital treatment. He was amongst six others excluded in 2001, but his parents protested his innocence, and Hamilton was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing.
7. Jackie Collins
London-born Jackie Collins grew up alongside her similarly glamorous sister Joan Collins. Like Joan, Jackie initially pursued an acting career in the 60s before instead becoming a writer, enjoying huge sales (although generally scathing reviews) for her trashy, sexually-charged novels. She died in 2015 aged 77.
Not unlike her sister, Jackie had a ‘bad girl’ reputation growing up, and this was well-earned. Sent to a strict boarding school, Collins wound up being, in her own words, “thrown out for smoking, being truant and waving at the resident flasher.”
6. 50 Cent
Since breaking through with his 2003 album Get Rich or Die Tryin’, Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson has been one of the world’s best-selling and highest-earning rappers, as well as enjoying a successful acting career. However, Cent had a long and difficult climb to reach where he is today after a difficult youth.
Cent was only in the tenth grade when he was discovered dealing drugs to his fellow students, and expelled. The rapper later admitted: “I was embarrassed that I got arrested like that … After I got arrested I stopped hiding it. I was telling my grandmother [openly], ‘I sell drugs.'”
5. Elizabeth Hurley
Elizabeth Hurley rose to fame in the early 90s as a model and actress (not to mention stealing headlines with a revealing dress whilst accompanying Hugh Grant to the premiere of Four Weddings and a Funeral). She quickly became the epitome of upper-class British glamour.
However, Hurley wasn’t always so clean-cut, having flirted with punk fashions and New Age culture in her younger years. She was expelled from school as a teen, although accounts vary as to why: some say she just wasn’t working hard enough, others say she skipped school for an impromptu Greek island holiday.
4. Charlie Sheen
One celebrity whose name has long since been synonymous with bad behaviour is Charlie Sheen. After rising to prominence in the 80s, the actor quickly became more famous for his troubled marriages, substance abuse problems and tendency to rub people the wrong way.
Apparently the actor was expelled from Santa Monica High School for a combination of poor attendance and bad grades. This might have had something to do with the fact that Sheen decided to start his acting career early and gave it priority over school work.
3. Courtney Love
While best known for being the widow of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love is a hugely successful rock star in her own right as the singer, guitarist and songwriter of grunge band Hole. She’s also recorded as a solo artist, and taken a number of acting roles.
Love (born Courtney Michelle Harrison) is also notorious for her confrontational persona and drug abuse issues. She found herself in trouble early, reportedly being expelled from school aged just eight for some unspecified misbehaviour.
Cheryl (previously known as Cheryl Tweedy/Cole) started out as a contestant on reality TV show Pop Stars: The Rivals, which resulted in the formation of Girls Aloud. After enjoying huge success with the band, she went solo, although she’s probably best known today as a judge on The X-Factor.
Coming from humble working class beginnings, Cheryl grew up in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, and her passion for music and dance meant she often neglected her studies. Although never expelled, she was once suspended for two weeks for swearing on a school bus.
1. Cary Grant
Cary Grant is one of the greatest Hollywood icons of all time. Renowned for his collaborations with such famed directors as Alfred Hitchcock and Howard Hawks, Grant became the embodiment of suave sophistication, always well-spoken and immaculately dressed.
However, Grant’s immaculate screen persona was a carefully crafted facade, masking the fact that he grew up a working class lad named Archibald Leach in Bristol, England. Every inch the young ruffian, the future ladies’ man was reportedly expelled in 1918 for sneaking into the girl’s toilets.