Cate Blanchett - Carol
Ever immaculate, it's hard to imagine Cate Blanchett as a teen going through a goth phase, a punk phase, and then shaving her head, but that's exactly what she did. After high school, she attended the University of Melbourne before deciding to drop out after only a year and travelling the world.
During this time, she found herself in Egypt, where it was reported that she was approached by a casting director to play an American cheerleading extra in the Egyptian film, Kaboria. That part is true, but Blanchett said she never made the final cut as it was "so hot and so boring that I left," so the following video probably isn't accurate.
She eventually returned to Australia, enrolled into National Institute of Dramatic Art and was cast alongside Geoffrey Rush in the stage adaptation of Oleanna almost immediately after graduation. Not too long after, she moved to London with her husband, Andrew Upton, and was cast in her career-making role, Elizabeth, thanks in part to her Sydney theatre days.
Brie Larson - Room
Born Brianne Sidonie Desaulniers, Brie Larson was was French-speaking, home-schooled young hopeful actor whose first acting role was as a Roadkill Easy Bake Oven and Girl Scout on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
Since 2003, she has pursued music, releasing an album in 2005 entitled Finally Out of P.E., which was a major commercial failure, and toured with Jesse McCartney. Though she never managed to build a successful career in music, she did provide vocals in her role as Envy Adams in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.
Jennifer Lawrence - Joy
Before she was a Hollywood darling, Jennifer Lawrence hailed from Kentucky, growing up on a horse farm where she was once thrown off a horse and deformed her tailbone.
While she was adamant on becoming an actor, she had in place a five-year plan which involved becoming a nurse if she wasn't successful. Luckily, it worked out, thanks in part to her role in the critically-acclaimed Winter's Bone.
Of course, Winter's Bone might not have been a reality had it not been for her first real acting gig, when she played the ill-fated birthday girl in the promotions for MTV's My Super Sweet 16, a role which earned Lawrence her SAG card.
Charlotte Rampling - 45 Years
Charlotte Rampling was a major figure of the Swinging Sixties in London, known back then as 'Charley' or 'the Chelsea Girl', and counted The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and The Rolling Stones as friends. Her first role, although it was uncredited, was as a nightclub dancer in The Beatles' A Hard Day's Night.
Before that, however, she was one half of a cabaret act alongside her sister, where the two performed songs in French. Performing from the age of 14, Rampling decided she wanted pursue a life in entertainment before her father put an end to her nightclub singing and enrolled her in secretarial school at 17.
She eventually came into acting through luck: she was spotted on the street and asked to be an extra in The Knack, and was spotted in a typing pool and asked to be in a commercial for a chocolate bar.
Saoirse Ronan - Brooklyn
Before making her mark in roles in Atonement and The Lovely Bones, Saoirse 'like inertia' Ronan was already familiar with the acting world, often following her father, actor Paul Ronan, onto film sets as a child.
She was meeting Hollywood heavyweights from a young age, thanks to her father, and was on the set of The Devil's Own at the age of two alongside Brad Pitt. Before that, she appeared at the age of one in the film Exile, again thanks to her father. Although her parents were not pushy, deciding it was best to keep her away from the child-star circuit.
She began auditioning for roles at a young age but was not always very successful. When she was 12, she auditioned for the role of Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter series, but lost to Evanna Lynch as she was too young at the time.
For the Best Actor edition, click here.