The comedian/actor donned a traditional cap and gown as he was presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Letters at the University of Sunderland by the institute's Chancellor, retired athlete Steve Cram.
Speaking during the ceremony, he told the audience, "If you do have a dream go for it, really go for it - my motto is if you shoot for the stars you could reach the moon."
He later told reporters, "It's wonderful to be here in Sunderland and to receive an honorary doctorate. I have just flown into the region from America, where we are filming in Hollywood, but of course it's far more glamorous to be here.
"It's incredibly inspiring to be here and I just want to encourage people and children growing up in Sunderland to see that if I can do it, you can also go off and do things like I have in my life."