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20 Early Roles of This Year’s Oscar-Nominated Actors

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Even Hollywood’s most celebrated actors had to pay their dues—sometimes by starring in a zit cream commercial. Here are 20 early roles of this year’s Academy Award-nominated actors.

1. MATT DAMON

In 1988, at the age of 18, Matt Damon—who won a Best Original Screenplay Oscar in 1998 for Good Will Hunting—made his feature film debut as a dopey rich kid in Mystic Pizza.

2. JENNIFER LAWRENCE

At age 16, Jennifer Lawrence got her start by playing the mascot for a high school basketball team in a 2006 episode of Monk. Though she donned a lion costume for the bulk of the appearance, she did manage a few seconds of face time toward the end of the episode.

3. LEONARDO DICAPRIO

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In 1989, Leonardo DiCaprio made his television debut on The New Lassie. He played Glen, a BMX-riding kid in two episodes.

4. CATE BLANCHETT

Before she became one of the most celebrated actresses of our time, Cate Blanchett began her impressive career on the Australian primetime drama Police Rescue in 1993. The future Oscar winner appeared as Mrs. Haines in one episode before joining the cast of the Australian mini-series Heartland one year later.

5. TOM HARDY

Tom Hardy made his on-screen debut playing Private John A. Janovec in two episodes of Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks' 2001 miniseries, Band of Brothers. Later that same year, Hardy had a small role in Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down.

6. BRIE LARSON

Room's Brie Larson made her television debut on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno as a Girl Scout in two comedy segments that aired in November of 1998. In 2003, Larson landed her first starring role, in the Disney Channel movie Right on Track; she played Courtney Enders, a young girl who wants to get into junior drag racing with her sister.

7. MICHAEL FASSBENDER

Michael Fassbender made his television debut in the second season of the BBC One drama Hearts and Bones in 2001. He played a love interest, “Hermann the German,” for a three-episode stretch. Like Tom Hardy, Fassbender's big break came later that year when he appeared in seven episodes of Band of Brothers.

8. ROONEY MARA

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Rooney Mara got her start in movies completely by accident. While visiting her sister, Kate Mara, on the set of the straight-to-DVD horror sequel Urban Legends: Bloody Mary in 2005, the director needed people to fill up a classroom scene. Although Rooney had no interest in being in the movie, Kate volunteered her reluctant sister, which led to her debut performance as "Classroom Girl #1."

9. SYLVESTER STALLONE

In 1970, Sylvester Stallone made his feature film debut in The Party at Kitty and Stud's, which subsequently became known as Italian Stallion. He played the titular Stud in the softcore adult film when he was starting out as an actor in New York City. Stallone only agreed to star in the movie as a last resort, as the 24-year-old was in danger of being evicted from his apartment.

"It was either do that movie or rob someone because I was at the end—at the very end—of my rope,” Stallone told Playboy in 1978. “Instead of doing something desperate, I worked two days for $200 and got myself out of the bus station."

10. SAOIRSE RONAN

In 2003, when she was nine years old, Saoirse Ronan had a recurring role on the Irish primetime medical drama The Clinic. She played the character Rhiannon Geraghty in four episodes over the course of two seasons.

11. EDDIE REDMAYNE

After beginning his career on the stage in London, last year's Best Actor (who's nominated again this year for The Danish Girl) Eddie Redmayne made his television debut on the young adult TV series Animal Ark in 1998. He made his big-screen debut opposite Toni Collette in 2006's Like Minds.

12. JENNIFER JASON LEIGH

At age 14, Jennifer Jason Leigh made her television debut during the third season of the detective television series Baretta in 1977. She played Marcie, a banker’s drug-addicted daughter. She also had an uncredited role in the 1976 movie The Spy Who Never Was as "Girl Playing with a Rubber Ball," though audiences never got to see her face.

13. CHRISTIAN BALE

At age 12, Christian Bale played a young Alexei Nikolaevich, the only son of Emperor Nicholas II of Russia, in the 1986 made-for-TV movie Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna. The following year marked his breakout role as the lead in Steven Spielberg's Empire of the Sun.

14. RACHEL MCADAMS

In 2001, a 23-year-old Rachel McAdams made her TV debut as "Beth Swanson" in the pilot for Shotgun Love Dolls on MTV. The pilot episode followed the adventures of Beth, an ordinary teenager who wakes up one morning to find herself in an alternate universe where she’s the newest member of an all-girl crime fighting team. Needless to say, it didn't get picked up for a full season. Fun Fact: Shotgun Love Dolls also marked an early role for Malin Åkerman, who played Rock Candy.

15. BRYAN CRANSTON

Bryan Cranston’s earliest credited role was on Lifetime's anthology drama Crisis Counselor in 1982. He played Sam, a bisexual man who gets caught cheating on his pregnant wife.

16. CHARLOTTE RAMPLING

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In 1964, Charlotte Rampling made an uncredited appearance as a nightclub dancer in A Hard Day’s Night for director Richard Lester. The following year, she made another uncredited appearance—this time as "Water Skier"—in The Knack ... and How to Get It, also for Lester.

17. MARK RUFFALO

In 1989, a 22-year-old Mark Ruffalo starred in a Clearasil Double Clear commercial. Later in the year, he appeared in the anthology series CBS Summer Playhouse as Michael Dunne, the son of a New York columnist, in the episode titled “American Nuclear.” The series aired during the summer and featured unsold TV pilots in the hopes of getting picked up for series. Television viewers would call a 1-800-number to pick their favorites for CBS’ fall lineup.

18. KATE WINSLET

Although she made a small appearance on a TV show called Shrinks in 1991, Kate Winslet made her major television debut on the British sci-fi series Dark Season at age 16 later in the year. Winslet played the character Reet for six episodes, including the pilot. In 1994, she made her movie debut opposite Melanie Lynskey in Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures.

19. MARK RYLANCE

Bridge of Spies' Mark Rylance, a first-time Oscar nominee, made his television debut in the two-part, made-for-TV movie Wallenberg: A Hero's Story in 1985. A 25-year-old Rylance played the character of Nikki Fodor in the Emmy Award-winning Holocaust film.

20. ALICIA VIKANDER

At age 13, Alicia Vikander appeared in the 2002 TV movie Min balsamerade mor (My Embalmed Mother) for Swedish television.

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David Lynch's Amazon T-Shirt Shop is as Surreal as His Movies
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Dominique Faget, AFP/Getty Images

David Lynch, the celebrated director behind baffling-but-brilliant films like Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive, and Twin Peaks, is now selling his equally surreal T-shirts on Amazon.

As IndieWire reports, each shirt bears an image of one of Lynch’s paintings or photographs with an accompanying title. Some of his designs are more straightforward (the shirts labeled “House” and “Whale” feature, respectively, drawings of a house and a whale), while others are obscure (the shirt called “Chicken Head Tears” features a disturbing sculpture of a semi-human face).

This isn’t the first time Lynch has ventured into pursuits outside of filmmaking. Previously, he has sold coffee, designed furniture, produced music, hosted daily weather reports, and published a book about his experience with transcendental meditation. Art, in fact, falls a little closer to Lynch’s roots; the filmmaker trained for years at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts before making his mark in Hollywood.

Lynch’s Amazon store currently sells 57 T-shirts, ranging in size from small to triple XL, all for $26 each. As for our own feelings on the collection, we think they’re best reflected by this T-shirt named “Honestly, I’m Sort of Confused.”

Check out some of our favorites below:

T-shirt that says "Honestly, I'm Sort of Confused"
"Honestly, I'm Sort of Confused"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with a drawing of a sleeping bird on it
"Sleeping Bird"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt that says Peace on Earth over and over again. The caption is pretty on the nose.
"Peace on Earth"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with an image of a screaming face made out of turkey with ants in its mouth
"Turkey Cheese Head"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with an odd sculpted clay face asking if you know who it is. You get the idea.
"I Was Wondering If You Know Who I Am?"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with an image of a sculpted head that is not a chicken. It is blue, though.
"Chicken Head Blue"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with a drawing of a lobster on it. Below the drawing, the lobster is labeled with the word lobster. Shocking, I know.
"Lobster"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with an abstract drawing of what is by David Lynch's account, at least, a cowboy
"Cowboy"

Buy it on Amazon

[h/t IndieWire]

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9 Things You Might Not Know About Maurice Sendak
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Maurice Sendak's books were shaped by his own childhood: one marked by the Lindbergh baby kidnapping, the concentration camp deaths of most of his extended family, and parents consumed by depression and anger. When Sendak started illustrating and writing for children, he vowed that he wouldn't write stories of sunshine and rainbows, because that's not real life. In honor of what would have been his 90th birthday, here are a few other things about Maurice Sendak's real life you may not have known.

1. HE DESIGNED F.A.O. SCHWARZ'S WINDOW DISPLAYS.

Sendak and his brother visited Manhattan’s F.A.O. Schwarz in 1948 to try to get the company to purchase their handmade, fairytale-inspired wooden toys. Though the toy store declined to purchase the brothers’ work for reproduction, they were impressed with Sendak’s artistic eye and asked him if he’d be interested in a job dressing windows. He worked at F.A.O. Schwarz for three years while taking classes at the New York Art Students League.

2. WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE WAS ORIGINALLY TITLED WHERE THE WILD HORSES ARE.

The book was intended, of course, to feature fillies, foals and mares. Editor Ursula Nordstrom adored the title, finding it poetic and beautiful, but there was one problem: Sendak couldn’t draw horses. When he told his editor that the whole horse thing wasn’t going to work out, he recalls her “acid tone[d]” response: “Maurice, what can you draw?”

“Things,” he said, and "things" he drew.

Side note: Ursula Nordstrom was also the editor of a few classics like The Giving Tree, Goodnight Moon, Harold and the Purple Crayon and Charlotte’s Web among others. Not a bad resume.

3. THE “THINGS” SENDAK ENDED UP CREATING WERE INSPIRED BY HIS IMMIGRANT RELATIVES AND THE WAY HE VIEWED THEM AS A CHILD.

“They were unkempt; their teeth were horrifying. Hair unraveling out of their noses.” Though the monsters were modeled after his family, they weren’t named after them; in fact, the things had no names in the book. They finally received monikers when Wild Things was made into an opera. “We had to have names to tell [the actors] when they were screwing up. They had Jewish names: Moishe, Schmuel. But the names were dropped after the opera. They never had names until they became movie stars.”

4. MOST OF HIS EXTENDED FAMILY DIED IN CONCENTRATION CAMPS.

It wasn't until he was older that Sendak realized how lucky those immigrant relatives were to be alive—and how lucky he was. Most of his extended family died in concentration camps, which his father discovered the day of Sendak's bar mitzvah. He attended the happy event anyway. When unknowing guests burst into "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" when Mr. Sendak walked through the door, Maurice knew something horrible had happened by his father's expression. "My father's face was vivid, livid, and I knew I had done something very bad, that I had made him suffer more than he had to. This 13-year-old ersatz man."

5. EVEN IF WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE HADN'T BEEN SUCH A HIT, YOU PROBABLY WOULD HAVE KNOWN SENDAK’S WORK ANYWAY.

Prior to the success of his own books, Sendak illustrated the popular Little Bear series by Else Holmelund Minarik.

6. ONE OF HIS BOOKS IS FREQUENTLY BANNED.

Though many parents and libraries initially protested that Where the Wild Things Are was too scary for children, it was his later book, In the Night Kitchen, that landed on the American Library Association’s frequently challenged and banned books list. It features a little boy named Mickey, who is nude throughout most of the story, likely because he’s dreaming. “Have you never had a dream, yourself, where you were totally naked?” he said, when Stephen Colbert asked him about the nudity. (Colbert: “No.” Sendak: “I think you’re a man of little imagination.”) Because of Mickey’s full frontal and some of his nude antics in the book (he jumps into a milk bottle, for instance, and later slides down it), critics have deemed it inappropriate for children. It was #24 on the ALA’s frequently banned books from 2000-2009.

7. HE WAS DEEPLY AFFECTED BY THE LINDBERGH BABY KIDNAPPING.

Sendak believed that the Lindbergh baby kidnapping very much affected his childhood, his work and his views on life in general. Though he was only 3.5 years old when the tragedy occurred in 1932, he says he vividly remembers the whole thing, including hearing Mrs. Lindbergh’s tearful voice pleading with the kidnappers via radio to rub camphor on her infant’s chest because she didn’t want his cold to get worse. “If that baby died, I had no chance. I was only a poor kid, okay? [When the Lindbergh baby was found dead,] I think something really fundamental died in me.”

8. SENDAK HATED EBOOKS.

Waiting for a sweet Where the Wild Things Are app for the iPad so your kids can explore the book in a new way? Don’t hold your breath. To say that Sendak disliked eBooks is an understatement: "F*** them is what I say; I hate those e-books. They cannot be the future ... they may well be. I will be dead, I won’t give a s***!”

9. HE NEVER CAME OUT TO HIS PARENTS.

Sendak never told his parents that he was gay. “All I wanted was to be straight so my parents could be happy,” he told The New York Times in 2008. “They never, never, never knew.” His partner of 50 years, Eugene Glynn, passed away in 2007.

This post originally appeared in 2011.

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