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Fiktive Columbia Alumni: Film Edition

Arts & Humanities

18 film (and book-to-film) characters that graced the Morningside Heights campus.

By Mussaad Al-Razouki '07DM, '08BUS |10. June 2021

From left: Fred MacMurray, Humphrey Bogart and Robert Francis in 'The Caine Mutiny'. © 1954 Colombia.

College-Alumnus Herman Wouk ’34CC hat seine Alma Mater in The Caine Mutiny , his 1951 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, set on a destroyer ship during World War II. Columbia appears in an early chapter, as the protagonist Willie Keith enrolls in the University's Midshipmen's School. (Yes, Columbia trained naval officers during World War II.) The book inspired a 1954 film adaptation starring Robert Francis as Keith.

Peter Sellers in 'Lolita'.

Stanley Kubrick's 1962 film version Lolita does not provide much biographical information about the antagonist Clare Quilty , played by Peter Sellers. But in the controversial 1955 novel by Vladimir Nabokov, we learn that the character was trained at Columbia University.

Don Johnson in 'The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart'.

Before becoming an icon as the star of the 80s Miami Vice , Don Johnson made his film debut in the 1970 film Stanley Sweetheart's Magical Garden , a little-known relic of counterculture cinema.Johnson plays Stanley sweetheart , a Columbia student and aspiring filmmaker who spends his college days getting high, sleeping around and hanging out with hippies in Greenwich Village.

Dustin Hoffman in 'Marathon Man'.

Dustin Hoffman plays as Thomas Babe Levy , a Columbia graduate student involved in a criminal conspiracy in the 1976 thriller Marathon Man . William Goldman’s 56GSAS, who wrote the 1974 novel on which the film is based, also wrote the screenplay.

Nicolas Cage in 'The Rock'.

in the The stone , a 1996 action thriller set on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay, FBI chemical weapons expert Dr. Stanley Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage) is presented with a BA from Columbia and a PhD from Johns Hopkins.

Robert Schwartzman and Anne Hathaway in 'The Princess Diaries'.

The sixth volume of The Princesses Diaries , Meg Cabot's 2000–2015 series of books for young people, shows an interest in love Michael Moskovitz on the way to Columbia for college. In the 2001 film adaptation of the first volume, Moscowitz (Robert Schwartzman) is still in high school.

Ryan Phillippe in 'Igby Goes Down'

Ryan Phillippe is a Columbia business major Ollie Slocumb , Igby's older brother, in the 2002 dramedy Igby goes down . Real Columbia graduate Amanda Peet’94CC also has a supporting role in the film.

Jodie Foster in 'Panic Room'. © 2002 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All rights reserved.

In the 2002 thriller Panikraum , Jodie Foster plays Meg Altman , a divorced mother who is moving to an apartment on the Upper West Side to study at Columbia. The house is not only spacious and conveniently located near the campus; It also includes a secure room that comes in handy when a group of armed intruders shows up.

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America Ferrera in 'Real Women Have Curves'. © 2002 Newmarket Films

Amerika FerreraStars as Ana Garcia in the Real women have curves , a 2002 dramedy about a working-class teenager in Los Angeles determined to go to college. Between high school and working in her family's run-down clothing factory, García applies to Columbia and receives (spoiler alert) a full scholarship.

Jennifer Garner und Ben Affleck in 'Daredevil'. ©2003 Twentieth Century Fox.

As told in the original Marvel Comics, Daredevil Matt Murdock graduated from Columbia Law School before becoming a lawyer by day and superhero superhero by night. In 2003 Daredevil Film, Ben Affleck plays Murdock alongside Jennifer Garner and Jon Favreau, who play other Columbia Law alumni Elektra Natchios and Nebeliger nelson , respectively.

Kate Hudson in 'How To Lose A Man In 10 Days' Photo by Michael Gibson - © 2003 - Paramount Pictures - All rights reserved.

Kate Hudson plays as Andie Anderson in 2003 How to lose a man in 10 days , an important rom-com of the early aughts. Anderson, a women's magazine writer and a Columbia Journalism School graduate, uses her reporting skills when she writes an in-depth article about anything Not to do at the beginning of a relationship.

Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio in 'Revolutionary Road'.

Released in 2008, Revolutionary street based on Richard Yates' 1961 novel about the malaise of the middle class in the suburbs of the 1950s. The drama was the first (and still only) reunion of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet as romantic leads since Titanic . DiCaprio plays Frank Wheeler , a restless New York salesman who studied at Columbia College, according to the book.

Laura Linney and Topher Grace in 'P.S.' (© 2004 Newmarket Films)

in the $ , a 2004 film based on the novel by Helen Schulman’86SOA, Topher Grace plays Grace F. Scott Feinstadt , an applicant at Columbia School of the Arts who is having an (extremely unethical) affair with an admissions officer, played by Laura Linney. At the end of the escapade, Feinstadt receives a notification of admission.

Chris Rock in 'I Think I Love My Wife.'

In the Rom-Com of 2007 I think i love my wife Who plays Chris Rock Richard Cooper , a married banking professional who flirts with infidelity when he reconnects with an attractive old friend, played by Kerry Washington. A Columbia diploma in Cooper's office shows he's an alumnus.

Scarlett Johansson in 'The Nanny's Diaries'.

At the end of A nanny's diaries , a 2007 comedy based on the book by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, Annie Braddock (Scarlett Johansson) quits her stressful job as a nanny in the Upper East Side and applies to graduate school for a master's in anthropology. Although Columbia is not specifically mentioned, Braddock is shown holding application papers while sitting on a fountain in front of the Low Library.

Rani Mukerji and Saif Ali Khan in 'Ta Ra Rum Pum'.

It's rare for Columbia to be mentioned in a Bollywood movie, but it does in the 2007 Indian hit Ta Ra Rum Pum , Rani Mukerji plays Radhika Banerjee Singh , a pianist who met her future husband as a racing driver while studying music.

Read more from Mussaad Al-Razouki '07DM, '08BUS
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