8 Sets of Famous College Roommates

Dorm Room Duos

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As thousands of dorm room dwellers across the country prep to depart for home to celebrate the holidays with their families, we’ve gotten a bit misty-eyed and nostalgic thinking about that time when we too were crammed into a cramped cinderblock cubicle with nothing but a mini-fridge, a stack of textbooks and a Pink Floyd black light poster to call our own. Ah, the good old days.

Although we can’t personally say we bunked with anyone who went on to win an Academy Award or become a U.S. senator, perhaps some of you have. There are also a few instances out there of famous folks being paired together as college roommates — actors with future vice presidents, actors with future senators, actors with future actors. Here are a few notable — and a couple of pretty random — examples.

Connie Britton and Kirsten Gillibrand

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In addition to her roles on “Nashville” and “Friday Night Lights,” actress Connie Britton has also portrayed a woman who’s forced to confront her husband’s past infidelities and the fact that the former inhabitants of her new, supernaturally active Los Angeles home really don’t want her there. Fortunately for Britton, the exceedingly bad luck with shared living spaces that she experiences on “American Horror Story: Murder House” doesn’t carry over to the actress’ real life.

During her pre-acting stint as an Asian studies major at Dartmouth College, Britton lived for a summer in Beijing, sharing a dorm room — “a kind of concrete room and two straw mats” — with the future junior United States senator from New York state, Kirsten Gillibrand. Although she doesn’t dish too much on their hijinks, Britton does reveal to “Morning Joe” that she and Gillabrand were fierce lip-syncers: "The American embassy had a big Fourth of July party — and part of that was doing a lip sync contest, and Kirsten and two other girlfriends of ours did a Madonna song. Can’t remember exactly which one but let me just say, we won the contest!"

Tommy Lee Jones and Al Gore

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Here’s a strapping young duo that we would have loved to have seen sauntering across the Quad at Harvard in the late 1960s: College football star-turned-gruff thespian Tommy Lee Jones and vice president-turned-environmental activist Al Gore. The unlikely duo, one the son of a Texas oilman and the other the son of a U.S. senator from Tennessee, bunked together as upperclassman in Dunster House.

To this day, Gore and Jones remain buddies, and the latter even spoke to his former roommate’s character — “a good, caring, loving man” — at the 2000 Democratic National Convention. During his nominating speech, the Academy Award-winning actor listed off a few college-era antics shared by the two: Watching “Star Trek,” shooting pool (and tin cans), chasing loose cows and cooking a tinfoil-wrapped Thanksgiving turkey in the hearth of their shared room. While Gore went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize and combat climate change after losing the presidency to George W. Bush, Jones, who in addition to acting also owns a Texas cattle ranch, went on to battle aliens with Will Smith and travel to space with Clint Eastwood.

Christopher Reeve and Robin Williams

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Believe it or not, the man from Ork was roomies with the man from Krypton at one of America’s most prestigious performing arts conservancies in the 1970s. In 1973, the aspiring actors were two of only 20 accepted as incoming freshmen at the Julliard School in New York City. Paired as roommates, they became lifelong confidants in a friendship described by a relative of Reeve’s widow, Dana (shown here at right), as being “closer than brothers.”

Following a 1995 accident that left Reeve a quadriplegic, Williams became an active member of the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation. There’s also the widely published rumor — one that Reeve and Williams have denied — that the latter paid for his buddy’s medical expenses. Williams did, however, provide Reeve with much-needed comic relief. In his 1998 autobiography “Still Me,” Reeve recounted that, during an “especially bleak moment” while awaiting a high-risk surgery to reattach his skull to his spine, the door to his hospital room flew open and “in hurried a squat fellow with a blue scrub hat and a yellow surgical gown and glasses, speaking in a Russian accent." The man announced he was a proctologist there to perform a rectal exam on Reeve. “For the first time since the accident, I laughed,” wrote Reeve. “My old friend had helped me know that somehow I was going to be okay.”

Stanley Tucci and Ving Rhames

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You’d think that hulking, Harlem-born actor Ving Rhames of “Pulp Fiction” and “Mission: Impossible” fame was always Ving Rhames. However, the man known to his family and friends as Irving Rameses Rhames didn’t achieve Ving-dom until his roommate and fellow drama student at SUNY Purchase, Stanley Tucci, suggested that he shorten his name to the more zippy and memorable “Ving.” The name change must have also given the man now known as Ving a new pair of wings, because after one year of studying drama at SUNY Purchase, Rhames received a scholarship to study classical theater at Julliard and transferred.

Rhames’ old roomie stayed at SUNY Purchase and graduated in 1982. While it’s unclear whether Tucci went on to generate the stage names of future roommates during his time at SUNY Purchase, he did go on to find acclaim in a slew of food-minded films such as “Julia & Julia,” “Big Night” (which he also directed, wrote and co-produced) and, um, “The Hunger Games.” In 2012, he released a critically lauded Italian cookbook titled, simply, “The Tucci Cookbook.”

Sherry Stringfield and Parker Posey

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Sherry Stringfield and Parker Posey are another pair of former SUNY Purchase roomies who went on to make it big in acting, first in soaps before eventually breaking away from daytime TV to take on decidedly different career paths.

After several seasons spent serving time as Blake on “Guiding Light,” the Texas-reared Stringfield became a familiar, Emmy-nominated face on procedural-minded prime-time dramas including “NYPD Blue,” “ER” (shown here at left) and, most recently, “CSI.”

After a yearlong stint as Tess Shelby on “As the World Turns,” Mississippi-born Posey quickly rose to fame as the offbeat It Girl of 1990s indie cinema in films such as “Party Girl,” “The House of Yes” and Hal Hartley’s “Henry Fool,” along with being a key player in Christopher Guest’s mockumentary dream team epic, “Best in Show” (shown here at right). And no disrespect to Stringfield, but having Posey as a college roommate kind of seems like the best thing ever (provided that no air raid drills are involved).

Burt Reynolds and Lee Corso

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Once upon a time, Florida State University in Tallahassee was the site of perhaps one of the most dripping-with-machismo dorm rooms in all the land: a room shared by celebrated collegiate football studs Lee Corso and Burt Reynolds. While Corso went on to follow a somewhat predicable career trajectory for a former collegiate football star — coaching and, eventually, broadcasting and analyzing for ESPN (in the photo at right he dons the Seminoles headdress as he predicts an FSU win) — Reynolds, a promising halfback who suffered a career-ending injury while with the Seminoles, went on to pose naked in a Cosmopolitan centerfold, and star in "Smokey in the Bandit." Reynolds, however, didn't abandon football completely as he returned to his gridiron roots in 1974's "The Longest Yard" and in the 1977 comedy "Semi-Tough."

Owen Wilson and Wes Anderson

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Given the casting choices of Hollywood’s reigning king of twee, it’s obvious that Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson are extremely tight. After all, Wilson has appeared in all of Anderson’s films with the exception of 2012’s “Moonrise Kingdom” and 1998’s “Rushmore,” which Wilson co-wrote.

Lesser known is the fact that the frequent collaborators became roommates while students after bonding during a playwriting class during their sophomore year at the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to teaming up for 1993’s “Bottle Rocket,” the duo teamed up on a term paper (or, rather, Anderson wrote a term paper for Wilson). But as a 1998 profile in the Texas Monthly explains, “... it wasn’t until they began cooking up schemes to end a lengthy dispute with their landlord over his refusal to fix several broken windows — a feud that ultimately drove them to stage a mock break-in and later to move out in the middle of the night, only to be tracked down by a private investigator — that their ‘grandiosely absurd’ vision, in the words of ‘Rushmore’ producer Barry Mendel, was born.”

Holly Hunter and Frances McDormand

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Here’s an instance of two accomplished actresses with six Oscar nominations and two Best Actress wins shared between them. Holly Hunter (left) and Frances McDormand were randomly placed together as roommates at the Yale School of Drama and got along so swimmingly that they lived together for a spell in New York City after graduating. After that, they also shared a home in the Silverlake section of Los Angeles with “Evil Dead” and “Spider-Man” director Sam Raimi and the filmmaking machine known as the Coen Brothers (McDormand has been married to Joel Coen since 1984). Oh, and those Best Actress wins: Hunter got hers for "The Piano," and McDormand for "Fargo."

In addition to living together during their Yale years and beyond, Hunter and McDormand have acted together in several films including “Blood Simple” and “Raising Arizona,” both early works from Joel and Ethan Coen.