Oscar Nominees Before They Were Stars


Every actor has to start somewhere — even the biggest Hollywood stars struggled to pay the rent and auditioned for bit parts in movies and TV shows.

Hollywood's hottest hunk George Clooney was in stinkers like "Return of the Killer Tomatoes" and "Return to Horror High," and showed up in TV shows like "Murder She Wrote" and "Riptide."

And who knew that acting elder statesman Tommy Lee Jones was in the 1970 pilot episode of "Charlie's Angels"?

Read on to find out more and see pictures of some of this year's Oscar nominees before they were stars.

George Clooney

Clooney's success on the big screen in the last decade makes it easy to forget his humble roots. Clooney first made female hearts flutter in the '80s sitcom "The Facts of Life," but got his big break when he appeared on the hit television series "Roseanne" in 1988, playing the role of Booker Brooks, Roseanne's arrogant boss. By 1994, Clooney had gained a major following as Dr. Doug Ross on "E.R."

Clooney's charm and good looks, which are often compared to Carey Grant, made him a movie star natural and roles in "Three Kings" (1999) and "The Perfect Storm" (2000) eased the transition to the big screen. He then caught the academy's eye in 2005, when he was nominated for his role in "Syriana" as well as for directing and writing "Good Night and Good Luck."

Johnny Depp

Depp didn't begin his career on the lavish streets of Hollywood, but got an early start by pacing on "21 Jump Street," a hit television show about young looking officers solving crimes, which premiered in 1987.

A few years earlier in 1984, Depp was on another street in "Nightmare on Elm Street" and a big-time Hollywood scene, just unfortunately with a minor role. Depp played the heroine's boyfriend, who also ended up being one of Freddy Kruger's victims unfortunately.

Depp showed off his acting skills and blockbuster potential as the darkly beloved Edward Scissorhands in director Tim Burton's 1990 film. However, a more commercial turn as Jack Sparrow in 2003's "Pirates of the Caribbean" earned him his first Oscar nomination.

Ellen Page

The Canadian actress has been acting since the age of 10, but the Kodak Theater red carpet is quite a step from her Nova Scotia beginning. After gaining experience on the TV series "Pit Pony," Page broke onto the Hollywood scene with 2005's "Hard Candy."

The young actress' performance reportedly impressed director Brett Ratner so much that he plucked her to star in "X-Men: The Last Stand" as Kitty Pryde. But a less supernatural portrayal of teenage pregnancy in this past year's "Juno" wowed academy members, who nominated the 20-year-old for best actress.

Casey Affleck

Affleck, who began his career with a part in 1995's "To Die For," starring Nicole Kidman, had a supporting role in the 1997 film "Good Will Hunting" that went rather unnoticed, while his older brother Ben won an Oscar for the film's screenplay.

A decade later, after memorable supporting roles in "200 Cigarettes" and the "Ocean's 11" franchise, he got his shot in the spotlight. The Affleck brothers teamed up for 2007's "Gone Baby Gone," which Ben wrote and directed, but Casey scored a nomination for his portrayal of Robert Ford.

Julie Christie

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