Before They Were Famous: Oscar Nominees

Part 1: A look at the early roles of lead actor nominees like Brad Pitt.
9:34 | 02/22/12

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Transcript for Before They Were Famous: Oscar Nominees
We're kicking up the -- Sunday -- a few days early. -- our look at this year's nominees before they were up for acting -- biggest prize so let's start at ten guys who have been called the sexiest men alive. But back -- George Clooney was dodging killer tomatoes or Brad Pitt was having to dress up like a chicken. They must have thought there's got to be -- easier way to make a -- in Hollywood. Here's Lara Spencer. -- -- -- Long before he was the -- leading man with Oscar gold on his mental George Clooney is just different Kentucky trying to find something. It's good -- -- -- he chooses department store has sold insurance door to door for weeks he also took on his very first role in the TV miniseries Centennial when filming began -- hometown George jumped at the chance to be an extra. But you need to watch closely. The areas on the right side of your screen pairing of barrel. And don't blink or you'll miss seventeen year old Clooney -- -- -- in this season. For all that heavy lifting George has paid a whopping 25 dollars a day. George later moved to Hollywood where he borrowed 200 dollars for head shots and motorbike to auditions waiting for that lucky break. Then it happened. And he's very first speaking part was on the detective series of -- -- little smile -- got my sag card. They came with a real -- Jack. For three years or so I didn't get and then you get a get -- and rip -- -- period. 15100 dollars which is more my that he made the year before and you make in a week. He cashed any gag me with a role on the series street home -- -- -- like bet you don't really considered the fact you're doing terrible. Look terrible film you're just so happy we're. That reasoning could explain this next clip in the mid eighties George did this commercial for Japanese car maker Daihatsu. Despite has like that there -- 58000 George began to get steady work on shows like the facts of life gift you've got the job. He's allowed to play the prevention but later it was settled clamped a memorable day. This man. Who was just testosterone with a capital T walks into the room and tainted the entire dynamic. Less than a year later he landed on the number one show on TV Roseanne. -- I can explain. That -- to film parts though not great ones and Richard Phillips made it harder. Than other. In the early ninety's George played a transvestite in the film the harvest -- wasn't exactly pretty woman. But through -- -- kept his head held high. There's many things that I can look back daddy go oh that's embarrassing but the time I was actually through. And then there's this big break sixty letters that helped make him a household name. An overnight success more than thirteen years in the making with the help of doctor Doug Ross George Clooney's career finally had a steady pulse. You know it was twice -- people magazine's sexiest men alive. But did you know Brad Pitt was also voted best dressed at -- through high school in Missouri -- -- on the dance floor on prom night. And it wouldn't be long before Brad would become -- the most photographed men. He dropped out of the University of Missouri and moved to Hollywood taking odd jobs to pay the bills. Really odd jobs -- wearing a chicken outfit to drum up business for this Sunset Boulevard restaurant. But the money did help pay for acting lessons and landed him some early extra work. In this 1987. Little known film called hunk Brad wasn't exactly playing like -- -- as in the background sipping cocktails. Then Charlie sheen's no man's land there's Brad again in the background as a waiter this time ordering drinks. But eventually he does get some lines in 1987 he appears on the soap opera another world. This is -- very first TD work I know of stories about you. The following Taylor -- do you get -- guys. That one day of work -- picketing is sag card and more importantly it led him to Dallas. Brad did more episodes of the show. -- or whatever you said. I we give -- good day for his work on Dallas he was prepared and confident and easy to work we have. Veteran actor Steve cannot blame Brad even mixed it up -- -- -- Yeah. Has never run across Brad Pitt professionally -- -- it's not too late so Brad. I'm not here he's and we commend -- yet again when they are may be -- that you -- wrote -- It -- -- experienced growing pains. I'd -- his picture in the cast departments like optical Pete gets -- hope he gets it. -- this movie in the episode -- -- Tracey gold's crash and when he came to their kissing scene he had to won a special request. There's a funny thing my mom just reminded me -- the other day she's like that he had actually asked that she not be on the sat while we had like -- kissing scene. It's like -- a watched -- I -- had made -- comfortable. It would then deliver performance that would shoot him and a super stardom as a sexy cowboy JD's in Thelma and movie. -- -- -- -- -- -- Gary Oldman has taken his intense style and her -- into more than thirty years of critical and commercial success but the 53 year old is well aware. That none of -- -- -- -- -- listens to the critics. My first -- fact turned me down. And said that I might want to think about something else to do improvement what did you say -- him I wanted a second opinion. Acting is -- old man has ever wanted to do. Grind it out London theater productions for more than seven years and it was blood sweat tears trying to make ends meet. A supporter I interviews and the woman said to me what how he would decide blood and you've got you good with -- but I guess if you don't find you get the joke. I couldn't find Michael -- In 1986 the English actor got his big break when he was cast -- Sid Vicious in the film Sid and Nancy and now. Several pages way to Hollywood and eventually he -- in mega hits including the Harry Potter and -- franchises. -- -- because he refused to listen to a negative review. First audition. Everybody's talking about the movie where nobody does. The artist and that means people want to know more about the star of the film. John -- -- again. Here's the short version. -- -- -- -- -- A virtual unknown here but in France John worked as a standup and comedic actor -- year's speech in the book. The -- acting career -- -- -- -- -- in the military and used his free time -- -- eleven character one man -- in the beginning there were plenty. Of seats available. But they played in front of freed -- Fight person that I was happy because it was just for me. He was only to prove to himself that John -- -- could be a performer or rather an artist. -- this year is a household name. That is if your house happens to be in Mexico. But after years of trying the actor has finally found a better life if you will hear any U -- After his very first Oscar nomination. Sort of you -- the most important things -- -- -- -- was there ever a time when you were. Trying to make your name here in the state that you thought. This happened in eyewitness I get stopped by the F casting directors all the time the first. -- industry. Thank you that's pulling it. We'll go home. When he moved to New York City age 22 Damian got great reviews for his work here it goes -- -- as a busboy and guacamole maker. You became a bit of a legend during your days at -- You broke some records I understand -- yeah I I actually hold the record for that night but multiple launch by the way I who was a bus girl. Who else is there when choosing your avocados and aggressive start your -- to all of America. -- super. You know that applies to many things definitely -- and -- -- he would. Chips and dip aside this year still couldn't -- any -- so he went back home and enough good work that he won the Mexican equivalent of an Oscar. That's -- union decided to take a second chance at making the first impression here in the states. His role Fidel Castro -- chatty and on the showtime series -- led to his nomination for a better life. And at long last -- and this year is in fact the toast of the town. They're having -- that you're a firm. His man at the.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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