12 Star-Powered College Roommates

Jason Plautz
Owen Wilson and Wes Anderson have been friends and colleagues since college.
Owen Wilson and Wes Anderson have been friends and colleagues since college. / J. Vespa/GettyImages
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Plenty of college students fret about their roommates, complaining about how they smell bad or steal Pop Tarts. But be careful—that person on the lower bunk may turn out to be powerful someday. Or maybe you both will. Here’s a look at 12 pairs of famous roommates.

1. Al Gore and Tommy Lee Jones

Actor Tommy Lee Jones and former vice president Al Gore (and eventually actor John Lithgow) shared a room at Harvard and, like plenty of college roomies, chased skirts together, even joining a country music band to get girls. The unlikely duo also served as the inspiration for the character of Oliver in Love Story, written by fellow Harvard alum Erich Segal.

2. Tony Dungy and Flip Saunders

When rooming together at the University of Minnesota, Tony Dungy and Flip Saunders dreamed of capturing a national championship for the school, Dungy on the football field and Saunders on the basketball court. Both went on to make their mark as coaches. Dungy led the Indianapolis Colts to a Super Bowl victory in 2007, and Saunders took the Detroit Pistons to three straight Eastern Conference Finals in 2006, 2007, and 2008.

3. Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson

Filmmaker Wes Anderson and actor Owen Wilson have had great success collaborating on movies from Rushmore to The Royal Tenebaums. And it all started when they were roommates at the University of Texas, where they co-wrote Anderson's directoral debut Bottle Rocket. That’s not the only writing Anderson did with Wilson, though; he wrote a paper about Edgar Allan Poe for him in order to score the better bedroom in their apartment.

4. Joe Montana and Charlie Weis

Charlie Weis may have run a pretty no-nonsense football program at Notre Dame, but back when he was a student there, he was fond of playing pranks on roommate (and quarterback) Joe Montana.

5. Ving Rhames and Stanley Tucci

Actor Ving Rhames got an assist for his successful career from roommate Stanley Tucci. While at SUNY Purchase, Tucci convinced Rhames to shorten his name from Irving. And let’s face it, that was probably a good career move; Marsellus Wallace just wouldn’t be the same played by someone named Irving.

6. Bill Clinton and Strobe Talbot

When you’ve got two Rhodes Scholars rooming together at Oxford, you know there’s bound to be some brainpower. But the pairing of future U.S. president Bill Clinton with future TIME editor and U.S. diplomat Strobe Talbot just seems excessive.

7. Hillary Clinton and Janet Hill

Bill Clinton may have had a high-powered roommate, but his wife’s roomie was no slouch either. At Wellesley, Hillary Clinton roomed with Janet Hill, a future attorney. But you may know Hill more for her son, former NBA star Grant Hill. The ties between the families continued past college; Grant has been a public supporter of the Democratic Party and on the night he was drafted, he got a congratulatory call from then-president Bill.

8. David Lynch and Peter Wolf

While attending the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Peter Wolf, lead vocalist for the J. Giels Band, ended up rooming with surrealist director David Lynch. Ironically, Lynch ended up kicking Wolf out of the apartment, saying that he was “too weird.” As if anything could be too weird for David Lynch.

9. Edward Gorey and Frank O’Hara

If any roommate on this list would be too weird, you might have thought it would be creepy illustrator Edward Gorey. But apparently poet Frank O’Hara didn’t mind when the two roomed together at Harvard.

10. Christopher Reeve and Robin Williams

At Julliard, roomies Robin Williams and Christopher Reeve vowed to always be friends and help each other throughout life. Both held true to the promise and they remained close. Williams even covered some of Reeve’s medical expenses after he was paralyzed. Of course, being Robin Williams, he couldn’t stop there; Williams visited Reeve dressed as a doctor and pretending to be his proctologist, reportedly causing Reeve to smile for the first time since his accident.

11. Tom Izzo and Steve Mariucci

When they were friends in Michigan, Steve Mariucci and Tom Izzo would race up the steps of a man-made ski jump to see who would be successful. If Izzo won, he’d become head basketball coach at Notre Dame, but if Mariucci won, he’d be the school’s football coach. The two roomed together at Northern Michigan University and then went on to live their childhood dreams. Izzo became head basketball coach at Michigan State University, while Mariucci went on to coach the San Francisco 49ers.

12. Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae

Canadian politicians Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff roomed together at the University of Toronto. The two were close friends, coming from similar backgrounds, and spent a lot of time together. They remained close, even in 2006 when they ran against each other for leadership of the Liberal Party.

A version of this story ran in 2009; it has been updated for 2022.

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