While high school was the best years of their lives for some, others simply couldn’t wait to leave. And it’s always a surprise to find out that certain successful celebs ditched high school early — whether to pursue acting or singing, or simply because it wasn’t for them.
Turns out that none other than Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence was one such star.
The 23-year-old revealed her childhood struggles in the latest issue of Madame Figaro magazine. “My nickname was ‘Nitro’ as in nitroglycerin. I was hyperactive, curious about everything,” said Jennifer. “When my mother told me about my childhood, she always told me there was like a light in me, a spark that inspired me constantly. When I entered school, the light went out. We never knew what it was, a kind of social anxiety. But I had friends.”
Jennifer took medication and went to therapy to help with her social anxiety and hyperactivity, but to no avail. “I went to see a shrink,” she explained. “Nothing worked.”
That is, until she discovered acting. “One day, I begged my parents to take me to a casting,” the actress continues. “We went to New York, and that’s where I started acting. Just on stage, my mother saw the change that was taking place in me. She saw my anxieties disappear. She found her daughter, the one who had this light and joy before school.”
After appearing in church plays, the Hunger Games star graduated high school two years early so that she could begin her acting career at 15. Golden Globe-winning Lawrence, in turn, found her passion. “I finally found a way [to] open the door to a universe that I understood, that was good for me and made me happy, because I felt capable, whereas before I felt worthless,” she said.
So what 9 other celebs ditched the school books early — and why?
Jennifer Lawrence 1 of 10
The Oscar winner left high school at 15, and she's clearly doing okay in life! The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is out now, and we'll soon see her teamed up with David O'Russell again (after Silver Linings Playbook) in Hustle.
Cameron Diaz 2 of 10
Diaz was raised in Long Beach, California, but dropped out of high school at age 16 to be a model. Elite Model Agency signed her up, and she was featured on the July 1990 cover of Seventeen when she was 17. It wasn't until she was 21 that she tried her hand at acting, winning a role in the Jim Carrey movie The Mask.
Elton John 3 of 10
Born Reginald Kenneth Dwight on March 25, 1947, Elton John grew up in Pinner, Middlesex, England. His parents only married when he was 6; prior to this, he lived with them at his grandparents' house. He dropped out of school before taking his A levels at age 17 to try and get a career in the music industry (having played the piano since the age of 3). I think Elton hasn't done too badly, eh?
Nicolas Cage 4 of 10
The nephew of director Francis Ford Coppola ditched his Coppola surname early in his life so as to avoid being accused of nepotism. He attended Beverly Hills High School, but dropped out to pursue an acting career. He fell in love with acting at age 15 during a summer class at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco. Bet he's glad he did!
Jude Law 5 of 10
Having begun acting with the National Youth Music Theatre in London, Jude Law continued on to Alleyn's School in Dulwich, south London. However, he frequently skipped class to watch movies. He finally left school at age 17, after landing the role of a teen runaway on the British soap Families.
Christina Applegate 6 of 10
Anchorman star Christina Applegate had appeared on screen since she was 3 months old, movie to commercials at the age of 3, and graduating to film roles at age 7. She left school in 11th grade, as she wanted to become an actress full time. Shortly afterwards, she was snapped up by the hit TV show Married with Children.
Ryan Gosling 7 of 10
Gosling's parents divorced when he was a child, and for a time at the age of 10, his mom homeschooled him. In 1993, at the age of 12, Gosling attended an open audition for a revival of Disney's Mickey Mouse Club. He was given a two-year contract as a Mouseketeer and moved to Florida. He continued to audition for roles, eventually dropping out of high school altogether when he was 17.
Avril Lavigne 8 of 10
Avril Lavigne left high school after securing a recording contract with Arista Records worth $1.25 million. Two years later "Complicated" hit the airwaves, and the rest is history. 30 million album sales and counting ...
Daniel Radcliffe 9 of 10
At age 11, he was cast as Harry Potter in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and he continued to star in the series for 10 years until the release of the eighth and final film in 2011. Unhappy with the teasing he got at school for being Harry Potter (jealousy, no doubt!) and as his acting career began to consume his schedule, Radcliffe continued his education through on-set tutors. He achieved A grades in 3 AS levels that he took in 2006, but decided to take a break from education and did not go to college or university. He is now an acclaimed stage and screen actor.
Robert Downey, Jr. 10 of 10
Iron Man star Robert Downey, Jr. made his acting debut at age 5. By the age of 10, he was living in England and studying ballet. He attended the Stagedoor Manor Performing Arts Training Center in New York as a teenager. However, when his parents split up, he moved with his dad to California. He attended Santa Monica High School, but dropped out and returned to New York to pursue acting full time.
Photo credits: Pacific Coast News
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