ByAllanah Faherty, writer at
Senior staff writer | Twitter: @allanahfaherty | Email: [email protected]
Allanah Faherty

Over the history of film there has been an extremely exclusive group of actors who have been considered so proficient at their craft that they have been honored with more than one Academy Award - only 40 men and women in total.

it's not an easy road to win one Oscar, let alone two or more, and often success comes from small, obscure beginnings. Take a look at where these 11 multi-Academy Award winning celebrities first started out in film and see how far they've come:

Tom Hanks

First major film role: Robbie Wheeling in Mazes and Monsters (1982)

Latest major film role: Walt Disney in [Saving Mr. Banks](tag:357093)

Though he had starred in TV series Bosom Buddies and The Love Boat, as well as a small roles in He Knows You're Alone, Hanks first leading film role came in the 1982 made-for-TV movie Mazes and Monsters, which was an anti-Dungeons & Dragons film. The film was released six years before Hanks found fame as Josh Baskin in the 1988 film Big, for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor. In total Hanks has been nominated for five Academy Awards (all for Best Actor) and won two, for his roles in Philadelphia and Forrest Gump.

Meryl Streep

First major film role: Linda in The Deer Hunter (1978)

Latest major film role: Ricki in Ricki and the Flash (2015)

Prior to her first major film role in The Deer Hunter, Streep had appeared briefly in the 1977 film Julia, mini-series Holocaust, and TV movie The Deadliest Season, as well as many on-stage performances. The Deer Hunter was released in 1978, and for her role as Linda she gained her first Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Since The Deer Hunter Streep has been nominated for 19 Academy Award (four for Best Supporting Actress and 15 for Best Actress) and won three (Best Supporting Actress in Kramer vs. Kramer, and Best Actress in Sophie's Choice and The Iron Lady).

Daniel Day-Lewis

First major film role: Tomas in The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988)

Latest major film role: Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln (2012)

Daniel Day-Lewis starred in a number of TV series, mini-series, movies and stage productions throughout the 1980s. He joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, appeared alongside Anthony Hopkins and Sir Laurence Olivier in The Bounty and gained acclaim for his role in A Room with a View. However his first leading role was in the 1988 movie The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Two years later he was nominated for his first Academy Award in the Best Actor category for My Left Foot. In total he has been nominated five times and won three times (also winning for There Will be Blood and Lincoln), a record for the Best Actor category.

Maggie Smith

First major film role: Bridget Howard in Nowhere to Go (1958)

Latest major film role: Miss Shepherd in The Lady in the Van (2015)

Maggie Smith acted in many plays, TV series and TV movies throughout the 1950s and 60s, and even won an award for her role in Peter Shaffer's plays The Private Ear and The Public Eye. However her first major role came in 1958 film Nowhere to Go, for which she was nominated for a BAFTA award. Smith's first Academy Award nomination came in 1965 for Othello, for Best Supporting Actress. Since then she has been nominated for four additional Academy Awards (twice for Best Actress and three times for Best Supporting Actress), winning Best Actress in 1969 for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, and Best Supporting Actress in 1978 for California Suite.

Jack Nicholson

First major film role: Jimmy Wallace in The Cry Baby Killer (1958)

Latest major film role: Charles in How Do You Know (2010)

Jack Nicholson made his film debut as the lead in the low-budget drama The Cry Baby Killer, however the film didn't quite launch his career, and after flailing as an actor he actually became a screen writer for several years. In 1969 Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper's Easy Rider became Nicholson's big break, and he was nominated for his first Academy Award. In total Nicholson has been nominated a staggering 12 times (the most nominated male of all time), and won three times - twice for Best Actor (in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and As Good as it Gets) and once for Best Supporting Actor (in Terms of Endearment).

Cate Blanchett

First major film role: Susan Macarthy in Paradise Road (1997)

Latest major film role: Stepmother in Cinderella (2015)

Cate Blanchett started her career on the stage, winning many awards before her feature film debut as Susan Macarthy in Paradise Road. The following year she found international acclaim as Queen Elizabeth I in Elizabeth, for which she was nominated for her first Academy Award for Best Actress. Since Elizabeth, Blanchett has been nominated for six Academy Awards (three times each for Best Supporting Actress and Best Actress), and won twice for The Aviator in 2004, and Blue Jasmine in 2013.

Dustin Hoffman

First major film role: Ben Braddock in The Graduate (1967)

Latest major film role: Abraham Simkin in The Cobbler (2014)

Though he initially hoped to be a classical pianist, it was the acting bug that caught hold of Dustin Hoffman. He starred in many TV series and TV movies through the 60s, until in 1967 he made his big break in The Graduate, for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor. Since The Graduate Hoffman earned himself seven Academy Award nominations in the Best Actor category, winning twice for his roles in Kramer vs. Kramer (which also earned Meryl Streep an Oscar!) and Rain Man.

Hilary Swank

First major film role: Julie Pierce in The Next Karate Kid (1994)

Latest major film role: Kate in You're Not You (2014)

Who would have predicted that the karate kid would go on to win two Academy Awards? Well, Hilary Swank managed just that! Swank started her career in 1990 working in TV series, before a small role in Buffy the Vampire Slayer in 1992. It was her role as Julie in The Next Karate Kid that launched her to bigger stardom, and in 1999 she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for the role of Brandon Teena in Boys Don't Cry, which she won. Swank's other nomination came in 2004 for Million Dollar Baby, which she also snatched. Her 2/2 success rate puts her in an even smaller group of just six actors who have all managed to win every Academy Awards they were nominated for.

Sean Penn

First major film role: Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

Latest major film role: Terrier in The Gunman (2015)

Sean Penn was first introduced to acting when he had a few extra roles in Little House of the Prairie, when his father was directing, but his film career properly started in 1981 when he starred in the action-drama Taps. His first major role in a film was in the 1982 ensemble comedy Fast Times at Ridgemont High where he helped popularize the word 'dude' and black-and-white checkered Vans shoes in his role as Jeff Spicoli. However it would take 14 more years before Penn earned his first Best Actor nomination for Dead Man Walking, and it wouldn't be until 2004 that he would win the award for his part in Mystic River. All in all Penn has been nominated for Best Actor five times, and won twice, with the other win being for Milk in 2009.

Jodie Foster

First major film role: Iris in Taxi Driver (1976)

Latest major film role: Delacourt in Elysium (2013)

Jodie Fosters acting career started at age three when she appeared in a Coppertone ad, and through the late 60s and early 70s she appeared in many TV series and TV movies. However her first notable film role was in 1976 as child prostitute Iris in Taxi Driver, for which she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress. 12 years later she would be nominated for the Best Actress Academy Award for The Accused, which she won,and which she won again in 1991 for her role as Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs. Fosters fourth and latest nomination was for the 1994 film Nell.

Kevin Spacey

First major film role: Kirgo in See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989)

Latest major film role: Dave Harken in Horrible Bosses 2 (2014)

Kevin Spacey first tried his hand at drama in High School, before trying to make it as a comedian for many years. In 1981 he returned to stage acting in Henry VI, part 1 in a small role and slowly gained more and more prominence, eventually winning a Tony Award in 1991 for his part in Lost in Yonkers. In the mid-to-late 80s he also dabbled in on-screen acting, and his first major film role was as Kirgo in the 1989 comedy See No Evil, Hear No Evil. In 1995 he won his first Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in The Usual Suspects, and in 1999 he followed this up with a win for Best Actor in American Beauty.



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