2018 Oscar Nominated Actors in their earliest roles

Feb 28 2018 by
Categories : Celebrity

An Oscar nomination (and, hopefully, win) is the golden ticket for an actor. But even the most respected stars (Meryl Streep, anyone?) had to start in smaller, lesser known roles. From veteran actors to breakout stars, let’s take a look at this year’s Oscar-nominated actors in some of their earliest roles.

  • 1/20

    Sally Hawkins

    © IMDB.com

    Nomination: Actress in a Leading Role, The Shape of Water

    British actress Sally Hawkins has received much acclaim for her role in The Shape of Water as Elisa, a mute custodian who falls in love with a captive fish-man creature (yes, really). One of the 41-year-old's first notable film roles was in the 2002 movie All or Nothing, portraying unemployed teenager Samantha in the family drama. 

  • 2/20

    Frances McDormand

    © IMDB.com
    Nomination: Actress in a Leading Role, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri  

    For her leading role as Mildred Hayes in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Frances McDormand seems to be the one to beat—she's already won the Golden Globe, SAG and BAFTA for the part. McDormand, who's also a five-time Oscar nominee, made her movie debut in the Coen brothers' first feature film, Blood Simple. (It's also where McDormand met Joel Coen, her husband of more than 30 years.)  
  • 3/20

    Margot Robbie

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    Nomination: Actress in a Leading Role, I, Tonya 

    Australian actress Margot Robbie has been everywhere for a few years now, but her turn as figure skater Tonya Harding in I, Tonya is her very first Academy Award nomination. One of her earliest acting jobs was the Aussie thriller I.C.U. in the role of one of three teenagers being targeted by a serial killer.
  • 4/20

    Saoirse Ronan

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    Nomination: Actress in a Leading Role, Lady Bird 

    Saoirse Ronan was nominated for her first Oscar for Atonement when she was just 12 years old (her part in Lady Bird marks her third nom, btw). The former child star has been acting for years. Ronan's first on-screen role was as a nine-year-old; she appeared as Rhiannon Geraghty in four episodes of Irish medical drama The Clinic
  • 5/20

    Meryl Streep

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    Nomination: Actress in a Leading Role, The Post  

    No single actor has been nominated for as many Oscars as the iconic Meryl Streep. She earned her 21st nomination for her role as Kay Graham in historical political drama The Post. After spending a few years working as a theatre actor on Broadway, Streep made the leap to film in 1977. Her debut film appearance was in Julia, in which she had a small role opposite Jane Fonda.
  • 6/20

    Timothée Chalamet

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    Nomination: Actor in a Leading Role, Call Me By Your Name 

    Timothée Chalamet had a huge 2017. Other than his star-making turn as Elio in coming-of-age romance Call Me By Your Name, he also had a supporting role in Lady Bird (which is nominated for its own slew of awards). The 22-year-old has been acting long before his breakout year, though. One of his first big roles came in 2012 via an eight-episode arc on Homeland, playing Finn Walden, the vice-president's rebel son. 
  • 7/20

    Daniel Day-Lewis

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    Nomination: Actor in a Leading Role, Phantom Thread 

    Six-time Oscar nominee (and three-time winner) Daniel Day-Lewis announced that he would be retiring from acting last June, meaning his role as Phantom Thread's couturier Reynolds Woodcock will be his last. The 60-year-old actor made his on-screen debut as a teenager in 1971, appearing in an uncredited role as a vandal in Sunday Bloody Sunday—nine years before he started working regularly as an actor.
  • 8/20

    Daniel Kaluuya

    © imdb.com
    Nomination: Actor in a Leading Role, Get Out 

    Landing the role of Chris Washington in Get Out is definitely seen as Daniel Kaluuya's big breakthrough. But the 29-year-old has been writing and performing since he was a child. Skins fans (the original, of course) may recognize the Brit from one of his earliest recurring roles as Posh Kenneth from the first two seasons of the show, on which he also worked as a writer.
  • 9/20

    Gary Oldman

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    Nomination: Actor in a Leading Role, Darkest Hour 

    Brit Gary Oldman's portrayal of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour started generating Oscar buzz the moment the movie premiered at Telluride Film Festival last September, and he's been a frontrunner for the win since. He's definitely come a long way since he landed his first starring role as a skinhead in 1983's Meantime, a British made-for-TV movie about a working-class family.

  • 10/20

    Denzel Washington

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    Nomination: Actor in a Leading Role, Roman J. Israel, Esq. 

    Denzel Washington's nomination for his eponymous role in legal drama Roman J. Israel, Esq. is his ninth overall Academy Awards nom. The multi-hyphenate (he's a director and producer too) made his feature-film debut in Hollywood in the 1981 movie Carbon Copy, playing the long-lost son of a white businessman.
  • 11/20

    Mary J. Blige

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    Nomination: Actress in a Supporting Role, Mudbound 

    Native New Yorker Mary J. Blige is, of course, most famous for her music career. This year, she became the first person to be nominated at the Oscars for an acting performance and original song (both for Netflix's Mudbound) in a single year. Her acting debut, however, came in 1998, when she appeared on one episode of The Jamie Foxx Show (as a singer, naturally). 
  • 12/20

    Allison Janney

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    Nomination: Actress in a Supporting Role, I, Tonya 

    Having already won the Golden Globe, SAG and BAFTA for her portrayal of Tonya Harding's mother LaVona Fay Golden in I, Tonya, Allison Janney is the supporting actress frontrunner. Like many actors, one of Janney's earliest roles was on a daytime soap opera. She made appearances on Guiding Light for two years as Ginger, a maid to the Spaulding families. 
  • 13/20

    Lesley Manville

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    Nomination: Actress in a Supporting Role, Phantom Thread 

    British actress Lesley Manville's role as Cyril Woodcock (sister to DDL's character) in Phantom Thread earned her her first Oscar nomination. The first major on-screen role for the 61-year-old actress was Rosemary Kendall on Emmerdale Farm. Manville appeared on 80 episodes of the British soap in the mid '70s.
  • 14/20

    Laurie Metcalf

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    Nomination: Actress in a Supporting Role, Lady Bird 

    Emmy and Tony awards-winning actress Laurie Metcalf is best known for her work in theatre and on TV (Aunt Jackie forever!). Her nomination for her role as Marion McPherson, Lady Bird's mother, is her first Academy Award nom. Her first movie appearance was a small role in Desperately Seeking Susan, a 1985 comedy-drama that also starred Madonna in her first major acting job.
  • 15/20

    Octavia Spencer

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    Nomination: Actress in a Supporting Role, The Shape of Water 

    Upon being nominated for her role as Zelda (co-worker to Sally Hawkins' Elisa) in The Shape of Water, Octavia Spencer made history. Not only is she the first black actress to follow-up an Oscar win with two other nominations, she's also the first black actress to be nominated two years in a row (she received a nom last year for Hidden Figures). The 45-year-old started acting steadily in the '90s, including a brief role in Never Been Kissed as Cynthia, one of Josie's (Drew Barrymore) co-workers.
  • 16/20

    Willem Dafoe

    © imdb.com
    Nomination: Actor in a Supporting Role, The Florida Project
    Willem Dafoe impressed critics with his turn as motel manager Bobby Hicks in The Florida Project, which is a much more gentle and heartwarming role than we're used to seeing the 62-year-old actor in. It's a basic preconception that can be traced back to Dafoe's first feature film; he played a member of an outlaw biker gang in The Loveless, Kathryn Bigelow's 1982 feature-length directorial debut.
  • 17/20

    Woody Harrelson

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    Nomination: Actor in a Supporting Role, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri 

    While Woody Harrelson may be best known for his TV work on shows like Cheers and True Detective or parts in mega-franchises like The Hunger Games, his role as Sheriff Bill Willoughby in Three Billboards earned him his third Oscar nom. His first-ever role was a member of a high school football team in 1986's Wildcats, starring Goldie Hawn.
  • 18/20

    Richard Jenkins

    © imdb.com
    Nomination: Actor in a Supporting Role, The Shape of Water 

    Veteran actor Richard Jenkins has been working steadily since the 1970s. His role as Giles (neighbour to Sally Hawkins' Elisa) in The Shape of Water earned him his second Oscar nomination. One of his earliest film credits was as a newspaper editor in The Witches of Eastwick, a 1987comedy-fantasy movie starring Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer and Susan Sarandon. 
  • 19/20

    Christopher Plummer

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    Nomination: Actor in a Supporting Role, All the Money in the World 

    Toronto-born Christopher Plummer made headlines when he replaced Kevin Spacey as J. Paul Getty in Ridley Scott's All the Money in the World. The 88-year-old—who is also the oldest actor to ever be nominated for an Oscar—made his movie debut in Stage Struck, a 1958 drama that also starred Henry Fonda.
  • 20/20

    Sam Rockwell

    © imdb.com
    Nomination: Actor in a Supporting Role, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri 

    Cali native Sam Rockwell has been generating a lot of buzz for his role as violent police officer Jason Dixon in Three Billboards this awards season. Like his co-star McDormand, he's already won awards at the Golden Globes, SAGs and BAFTAs. The 49-year-old made his big screen debut in Clownhouse, a 1989 horror film in which three brothers are attacked by...you guessed it, clowns.
Categories: Celebrity