ByDanielle Ghazi, writer at
Sudoku enthusiast with an encyclopaedic knowledge of The Simpsons quotes.
Danielle Ghazi

Bryan Cranston - Trumbo

Before he was "The One Who Knocks," Bryan Cranston tried his hand at law enforcement at the tender age of 16 - a far cry from the character he would play 36 years later. While he was at the top of his class, he ended up stumbling upon a career in acting, following in the footsteps of his father, who was a failed actor.

Cranston's youth was by no means boring. In an interview with The Nerdist, he revealed that he and his cousin came across Charles Manson while they were renting horses. He was also an ordained minister for the Universal Life Church, earning money for performing wedding ceremonies (including one where he dressed up as Elvis).

Cranston and his brother, Kyle, set off on one of those soul-searching journeys you usually only come across in films, travelling around the United States on a two-year motorcycle trip and working odd jobs to support themselves. By the end of their journey, Cranston was set on becoming an actor. He went from being a voice-actor for the English dubbing of Japanese anime films, to earning supporting roles in Seinfeld and The King of Queens, before becoming a household name for his role as Hal in Malcolm In The Middle, and eventually as Walter White in Breaking Bad.

Matt Damon - The Martian

Matt Damon had a slightly unconventional childhood, growing up in a six-family communal house with his older brother and loudly left-wing mother. He eventually met Ben Affleck, who lived nearby, when he was 10, and together they embarked upon one of the longest bromances in history.

With small parts in films like Mystic Pizza and appearances in student plays while he attended Harvard, Damon's career wasn't looking too stellar. He dropped out of Harvard, starred in the box office bomb Geronimo: An American Legend, and lived the 'unemployed actor's' life with Ben and his brother, Casey, in Los Angeles.

Luckily, Damon and Affleck had used this spare time in between auditioning to write the script for Good Will Hunting, which was a success and earned both men Oscars and Golden Globes for Best Screenplay, cementing a spot for Damon within Hollywood's elite ever since.

Leonardo DiCaprio - The Revenant

Leonardo 'Red Carpet Rampage' DiCaprio has had the longest career of all of this year's nominees, making his acting debut at the age of 15 in the television series The New Lassie. However he was on the commercial circuit from as young as five, and was even kicked off of the set of Romper Room for disruptive behaviour. While acting at a young age, DiCaprio also spent his summers abroad, living with his grandparents in Germany.

With small parts in television shows like Roseanne and the failure of the television show, Parenthood, DiCaprio's early career was nothing but lacklustre. That was until he landed a recurring role in Growing Pains, which marked the start of a successful career, leading onto roles in What's Eating Gilbert Grape, The Basketball Diaries, Romeo + Juliet, and Titanic.

From becoming the Wolf of Wall Street to going head-to-head with a bear, Leo 'Dad Bod' DiCaprio deserves his long-awaited wins.

Michael Fassbender - Steve Jobs

Before he was a sex-addict in Shame, Michael Fassbender was an altar boy in Ireland, earning pocket money during wedding season and entertaining himself by ringing the church bells.

Like Leo, he often spent his summers in Germany with his family (where he was born), but attended school in Ireland before moving to London at the age of 19 to pursue acting. Much like other struggling actors, he supported himself with a string of jobs, including bartending and postal delivery, while also landing roles in television shows like Band of Brothers and Hex.

It wasn't until 300 in 2006 that Fassbender got his real break, eventually leading to roles in Hunger, Inglorious Basterds, X-Men, and nominations for his roles in 12 Years A Slave, Shame, and now Steve Jobs.

Eddie Redmayne - The Danish Girl

Unlike the usual stories about struggling actors, Eddie Redmayne had a comfortable upbringing. His great-grandfather was a highly-regarded British civil and mining engineer, and Redmayne attended the prestigious schools, Colet Court, Eton College, and Trinity College, Cambridge. He was a part of the Eton Society in 2000, alongside classmate Prince William.

Before pursuing acting, Redmayne was a model, appearing in small-time campaigns for companies like Rowan Yarns in 2004, before finding more lucrative gigs with Burberry, appearing in a campaign with Alex Pettyfer in 2008.

In the early-2000s, he made his way through the theatre circuit, winning the Outstanding Newcomer award at the 50th Evening Standard Theatre Awards for his role in The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?. He eventually transitioned into film, picking up roles in The Other Boleyn Girl, My Week With Marilyn, and Les Misérables, before taking home an Oscar for The Theory of Everything.

For the Best Actress edition, click here.


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