Oscar Nominees’ Humble Acting Beginnings Revealed!

Jessica Chastain and Kristen Bell
Jessica Chastain and Kristen Bell in "Veronica Mars" The CW; Jonathan Leibson/WireImage.com (inset)

Not every role is worthy of a statuette, as many of this year’s Oscar nominees can attest. Here, Us Weekly unearths four of this years Academy Awards honorees’ less-deserving works.

Jessica Chastain

“I went to Juilliard, I trained, I did a lot of theater, I did some guest spots on TV,” the Zero Dark Thirty Best Actress nominee has said of starting out. Nearly a decade before the 35-year-old was a candidate for best actress, she played a pregnant girl who goes missing on the Kristen Bell drama Veronica Mars.

bradley cooper wet hot american summer
Bradley Cooper and Amy Poehler in “Wet Hot American Summer” Eureka Pictures; Steve Granitz/WireImage.com (inset)

Bradley Cooper

The Silver Linings Playbook Best Actor nominee, 38, missed his graduation from New York City’s Actors Studio to film a small role as an uptight camp counselor (with Amy Poehler) in the 2001 cult comedy Wet Hot American Summer. In one surprising scene, Cooper’s onscreen alter-ego hooked up with Michael Ian Black‘s character in an equipment closet!

Anne Hathaway Get Real
Eric Christian Olsen and Anne Hathaway in “Get Real” Courtesy Everett Collection; Frazer Harrison/Getty (inset)

Anne Hathaway

She dreamed a dream of TV fame! Les Miserables‘ Best Supporting Actress nominee, 30, was a high-schooler on the 1999-2002 FOX dramedy Get Real, costarring Eric Christian Olsen. “When I was younger I thought about becoming a nun for a while,” Hathaway has said of her pre-fame days. “You know how it is when you’re growing up and you’re going to be a lot of different things, but I actually wanted to be an actress before I wanted to be a nun.”

Joaquin Phoenix Space Camp
Joaquin Phoenix in “Space Camp” Courtesy Everett Collection; Michael Kovac/WireImage.com (inset)

Joaquin Phoenix

Who is Leaf Phoenix? That would be Joaquin, 38, who has a Best Actor nod for The Master. As a preteen, he used a stage name for the silly 1986 sci-fi adventure Space Camp, with Lea Thompson (standing beside him) and Kelly Preston (far right).

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