Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Lawrence, Jared Leto, Leo DiCaprio, Oscar Nominees on TV

NBC/YouTube/ABC/Warner Bros.

Before they were walking the red carpet and receiving critical acclaim for their film roles, these Oscar nominees spent some time on TV. Some of them spent quite a bit of time, actually!

Industry veterans Bruce Dern and June Squibb spent their early careers on the small screen with guest bits. Sandra Bullock got her start playing the lead in a TV show based on a movie and who can forget Jared Leto's breakout teen drama heartthrob role? We certainly can't. So, buckle up and hop on board the nostalgia train, we're going on an adventure back in time! (Note: Oscar nominee Barkhad Abdi's first role was Captain Phillips.)


Long before he was instilling fear into the criminals of Gotham City and donning the oh-so-fabulous American Hustle duds (and the no so fabulous American Hustle hair), Christian Bale made his acting debut in 1986's Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna, a TV movie opposite Susan Lucci.


Nebraska nominee Bruce Dern, who many remember from his recent turn on HBO's Big Love, got his start doing guest bits on TV shows. He made two appearances on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour in 1964.


Show us that smile again, Leo! The Wolf of Wall Street star Leonardo DiCaprio got his teen heartthrob on as Luke Brower on Growing Pains.


Matthew McConaughey, who is earning rave reviews for his turn on HBO's True Detective,  may have transformed his body (and career!) for Dallas Buyers Club, but he was in his full shirtless McConaughey glory when he made his acting debut on an episode of Unsolved Mysteries. Alright, alright, alright.


Chiwetel Ejiofor, who is probably best known for his role in Love Actually and his Oscar-nominated turn in 12 Years a Slave, got his start in TV. He appeared in a 1996 TV movie Deadly Voyage. Other TV roles include Mind Games, Trust and Canterbury Tales.


Did you know Sandra Bullock, yep, the Oscar winner and current nominee for Gravity, appeared in a TV version of the popular 1988 movie Working Girl? Good luck getting Carly Simon's Let the River Run out of your head now.

Five-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams got her start with small roles on teen-oriented TV shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. On Smallville, the American Hustle star played Jodi, a girl who needed to eat the body fat of others to satiate her hunger.


It wasn't long before Blue Jasmine star Cate Blanchett made the transition from TV to movies, but her early gigs included roles on Police Rescue and miniseries such as Heartland and Bordertown.


Dame Judi Dench, who is nominated for her work in Philomena, began her career on TV with guest spots and performing in televised plays. In the early 1980s she headlined A Fine Romance and took home a BAFTA award for the comedy series.


Meryl Streep began her film and TV role in the 1970s, but before hitting it big with Manhattan and The Deer Hunter, she starred in the 1978 TV miniseries Holocaust as Inga Helms Weiss. Now the Oscar winner is up for 4Th Oscar (her 18th nomination) for August: Osage County.


Everybody remembers American Hustle star Bradley Cooper from his turn on Alias, but before he was busting bad guys with Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner), Cooper was romancing Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and the City.


Michael Fassbender has been making hearts swoon on the big screen with roles on the big screen, but the 12 Years a Slave star made his American debut in the TV miniseries Band of Brothers in 2001.


Jonah Hill is up for an Oscar for his work in The Wolf of Wall Street, but the star spent some time on TV before going Superbad. Hill had a bit role on NYPD Blue and also appeared in Campus Ladies.


No TV fan can see Jared Leto and not see Jordan Catalano. The Dallas Buyers Club nominee made viewers everywhere weak in the knees on the short-lived beloved series My So-Called Life.


Jennifer Lawrence's first credited role was playing "Mascot" in an episode of Monk in 2006. The American Hustle nominee went on to appear in The Bill Engvall Show, Medium and Cold Case before becoming a big screen star.


Blue Jasmine star Sally Hawkins spent quite a few years on British TV before going Happy-Go-Lucky. Her roles included several British TV movies and miniseries, including Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky.


12 Years as Slave was Lupita Nyong'o's breakout role, but the Oscar nominee appeared in the TV miniseries Shuga before switching to big screen parts.


Before this August: Osage County star was America's sweetheart, Julia Roberts was doing guest roles in the 1980s. In 1988, the same year she starred in Mystic Pizza, Roberts appeared in the TV movie Baja Oklahoma and an episode of Miami Vice.

June Squibb, Law and Order, Nominees on TV


Nebraska star June Squibb is a serial guest star, having roles in recent hits such as Girls and Getting On. She got her start in the TV world with guest spots on ER and Law & Order.

Find out who will take home the Oscars on Sunday, March 2 at 8 p.m. on ABC. Be sure to watch E!'s red carpet coverage starting at 1:30 p.m. EST/10:30 a.m. PST.

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share

We and our partners use cookies on this site to improve our service, perform analytics, personalize advertising, measure advertising performance, and remember website preferences. By using the site, you consent to these cookies. For more information on cookies including how to manage your consent visit our Cookie Policy.