The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) lists 227 celebrities who count Evanston as their birthplace. You probably know several among the top ten (sorted by popularity, or “STARmeter”), but there may be some surprises on here.
10. Ajay Naidu – Perhaps best known for his role in Office Space, Naidu has also appeared in Requiem for a Dream and The Wrestler, among many other films. He’s reportedly engaged to his girlfriend, Heather Burns, whom he’s been dating since both were students at ETHS, according to IMDb.
9. Eddie Vedder – The Pearl Jam frontman, 48, was born in Evanston but spent most of his childhood in Southern California, according to the band’s website. Vedder says he attended his first concert at age 12, when Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band played the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago.
7. Carlos Bernard – He played the character Tony Almeida, a counterterrorist agent, on the show 24. In real life, he’s a huge Chicago Cubs fan, speaks Spanish fluently and was named one of People magazine’s 50 most beautiful people in 2003, according to IMDb.
6. William Petersen – The CSI actor and producer has also starred in the movies Manhunter (1986), To Live and Die in L.A. (1985) and Fear (1996), among others. He’s also an ensemble member of Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago and most recently appeared in a play called Slowgirl that ended Sept. 1.
5. Alicia Goranson – She snagged her first role was as the character Becky Conner in the TV show Roseanne, at age 14. Goranson auditioned for the lead in Boys Don’t Cry, but landed a supporting role instead, according to IMDb.
4. Zach Gilford – The star of Friday Night Lights graduated from Evanston Township High School in 2000 and majored in theatre at Northwestern University. He married actress Kiele Sanchez last year, and their Napa wedding photos have been making the rounds online.
3. Elizabeth McGovern – Currently starring as Cora Crawley in Downton Abbey, McGovern was born in Evanston to a Northwestern law professor, but moved to L.A. before high school. She was once engaged to Sean Penn, according to IMDb.
2. Daniel Sunjata – He played Captain Jones in The Dark Knight Rises, and also had roles in The Devil Wears Prada, Grey’s Anatomy and Law & Order, among many other films and shows. He, too, was named to People magazine’s list of 50 most beautiful people in 2003.
1. John Cusack – The list of credits is very long, from Sixteen Candles to The Butler, and Cusack is still at it, with at least eight movies in pre- or post-production right now, according to IMDB. What guides Cusack’s choices? “What you look for is something that’s really entertaining, that can make people laugh, or is a little bit subversive, that maybe has some ideas. But they really have to be ideas,” he told the Chicago Tribune in 1989.
Editor's note: Wondering why stars like Seth Meyers and Jeremy Piven didn't make this list? IMDB's ranking was based on stars who were born on Evanston only, and neither Meyers nor Piven (among many others) were actually born in the city.