Mark Wahlberg, 41, has revealed that he’s pursuing the high school diploma that he never earned as teenager. The singer-turned-actor, who has been open about using drugs and alcohol while growing up in Boston, left school at a very early age. “I was climbing out the window and staying out all night when I was 12 or 13, and by the time I was 13 or 14, I stopped going to school,” he once told Vanity Fair. “My older brothers taught me how to get high when I was 10, and gave me a couple beers. … When I was 13, 14, 15, I had a pretty serious cocaine problem.” Now that he’s clean, the reformed Wahlberg plans to complete his studies online through a New Orleans-based company. “They’re going to give me whatever credits I already have, which is probably like one or two,” he joked on “Late Show With David Letterman.” “But I’m going to make it happen.”
After being discovered by a modeling scout at age 14, Brazilian beauty Gisele Bundchen quit school and started her modeling career, moving to New York by the time she was 16. Fifteen years later, Bundchen is making a pretty penny without a high school diploma and, according to Forbes, is currently the highest-paid model in the world thanks to her deals with companies like Pantene, Esprit, and Versace. None of the deals apparently require algebra skills or a knowledge of history.
With his father out of work, comedic actor Jim Carrey was forced to drop out of school and find a job to help support his family, who was living in poverty in Canada. Times were tough and the teen went from being a “straight-A student to not wanting to know anybody’s name, and not wanting to make a friend,” he said on “Inside the Actors Studio” last year. “We lived in a van for a while, and we worked all together as security guards and janitors.” He eventually decided to try his hand at stand-up comedy, and if that didn’t work out, he planned to take a job with a local steel mill. So far, he still hasn’t had to take that steel mill gig.
Actress Drew Barrymore, 37, was famously a Hollywood wild child in her younger years, so it isn’t at all surprising that she dropped out of high school. A member of the famous Barrymore family acting dynasty, Drew starred in the blockbuster “E.T.” by age 7 and was out of rehab for alcohol and cocaine use by the time she was a teenager. By age 15, the starlet was legally emancipated and living on her own — so school was never a priority. She left high school in the eleventh grade, years before she portrayed a reporter going undercover as a high school student in 1999′s “Never Been Kissed.”
You don’t need a high school diploma to judge musical talent, apparently! Curmudgeonly “American Idol,” “Britain’s Got Talent,” and “The X Factor” judge dropped out of high school at 16 and started working in the mailroom at the British record company EMI Group. Six years later he started his own label. Since then, Cowell has not only served as a judge on multiple reality competition shows, but created several of his own here and abroad (including “America’s Got Talent”). This high school dropout is a millionaire dozens of times over.
After struggling with undiagnosed dyslexia all through childhood, Whoopi Goldberg finally got so frustrated she dropped out of high school at age 17. Unfortunately, she quickly began spending her days doing something else – drugs. “There ain’t no joy in a high – none,” she once told Ebony magazine. “You think there’s a joy in a high because it feels good temporarily. But it feels good less and less often, so you’ve got to do it more and more often. It ain’t your friend.” Goldberg eventually got clean and sober and had a big-time movie career going by the time she was in her 30s with roles in “The Color Purple” and “Ghost,” for which she won an Academy Award.
Charlie Sheen, who’s portrayed a baseball player in movies like “Major League,” actually did know how to swing a bat back when he was a student at Santa Monica High School in California. He could have gone on to play ball in college, according to coaches who worked with him. However, Sheen never finished his diploma because he was expelled a few weeks short of graduation due to poor attendance and grades. Today, even Sheen is impressed at the media attention he’s received because of his 2011 meltdown. “Man, it’s a bit nutty,” Sheen said in January. “I’m just a white guy from Malibu who dropped out of high school. I’m amazed that there’s still all this interest in what’s going on.” Too bad he wasn’t taking a class in attracting the media — Sheen would have aced it!
After Hilary Swank moved from Washington State to the Los Angeles area with her mom, the two initially lived out of their car while her mother looked for a job and Hilary started at South Pasadena High School, an experience she didn’t enjoy. “I felt like such an outsider. I didn’t feel like I fit in. I didn’t belong in any way,” she told The Times Leader in 2007. I didn’t even feel like the teachers wanted me there. I just felt like I wasn’t seen or understood. I felt like I needed a lot of help and I didn’t understand why the teachers couldn’t see it.” Swank quit school and, at age 20 she was cast in “The Next Karate Kid.” She’s been seen and understood on the big screen ever since, even winning an Oscar for her emotional role at age 24 in “Boys Don’t Cry.”
Can you imagine a hottie like Johnny Depp walking the halls of your high school? Neither can we! The truth is that Depp, 49, didn’t stay in high school long, although not for the reason you may think. The acclaimed actor dropped out so he could be a rocker. Too bad the whole music thing didn’t work out, but the acting seems to be going OK! Depp, who’s recently known for the many roles he’s played in Tim Burton films, has continued to make music as a side project. Over the years, he’s appeared in several music videos and performed with artists like The Black Keys, who he sang with this month at the MTV Movie Awards.
By the time Kelly Osbourne, the daughter of rocker Ozzy, was 17, she starred on one of the first hit reality shows, MTV’s “The Osbournes,” and released her debut album, Shut Up. But she didn’t always have it so easy. Her family traveled a lot with her musician father, and she struggled with being bullied about her weight. She said so long to high school by the 10th grade.
30 Rock” star Tracy Morgan has no regrets about leaving high school behind. “If I went, I might have ended up at some crappy job,” he told the New York Post in 2010. “I’m glad I dropped out of high school, man. I wouldn’t be where I’m at. I would have had a net. I’m glad I didn’t have anything to fall back on, man, because that made me go for my dreams that much harder.”