CATEGORIES Features, Oscar News
Sandra BullockBefore they were Oscar-nominated actors and actresses, this year's nominees had their share of weird acting gigs.

Once upon a time, a young Helen Mirren did Shakespeare, Sandra Bullock and her awesome hair starred in a short-lived '90s sitcom, and Morgan Freeman busked for Listerine as a telephone line worker. Plus, George Clooney once made pizza (and held a fake "Win a Date With Rob Lowe" contest -- yes, back then, Rob Lowe was the famous one) in 'Return of the Killer Tomatoes.'

Travel back in time with us and check out all this year's nominees before they became stars. Sandra BullockBefore they were Oscar-nominated actors and actresses, this year's nominees had their share of weird acting gigs.

Once upon a time, a young Helen Mirren did Shakespeare, Sandra Bullock and her awesome hair starred in a short-lived '90s sitcom, and Morgan Freeman busked for Listerine as a telephone line worker. Plus, George Clooney once made pizza (and held a fake "Win a Date With Rob Lowe" contest -- yes, back then, Rob Lowe was the famous one) in 'Return of the Killer Tomatoes.'

Travel back in time with us and check out all this year's nominees before they became stars.

Helen Mirren
Nominated for:
Best Actress, 'The Last Station'
The 64-year-old Mirren is nominated for playing Leo Tolstoy's wife in 'The Last Station,' but she's been acting since she was a young girl. In this clip, a just-as-beautiful Mirren plays Hermia in 1968's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream,' her third movie role ever.


Meryl Streep
Nominated for:
Best Actress, 'Julie & Julia'
'Secret Service,' a play adapted for television, was broadcast in 1977 with then-unknown stars Meryl Streep as a Southern belle and John Lithgow as her beau, a Confederate captain. In this clip, she shows off her surprisingly high singing voice.


Sandra Bullock
Nominated for:
Best Actress, 'The Blind Side'
Sandra Bullock got her start on the 1990 television adaptation of the movie 'Working Girl,' about a young woman who suddenly becomes a company executive. The hilariously dated intro montage is worth watching for the theme song alone.



Carey Mulligan
Nominated for:
Best Actress, 'An Education'
Carey Mulligan wasn't in many films before 'An Education,' but she did play Elizabeth Bennet's sister Kitty in 2005's 'Pride and Prejudice.' In this behind-the-scenes clip, she kids around with castmate Jena Malone.


Jeremy Renner
Nominated for:
Best Actor, 'The Hurt Locker'
Though he was intense in this year's Oscar frontrunner, Renner played the fool in the National Lampoon high school movie 'Senior Trip.' The 1995 teen romp has Renner's character locking his principal in a bathroom in order to steal alcohol from a convenience store. Charming.


George Clooney
Nominated for:
Best Actor, 'Up In The Air'
This is almost too good to be true: George Clooney was a young pizza-maker in the sequel to 'Attack of the Killer Tomatoes,' which is as absurd as it sounds. In 1998's 'Return of the Killer Tomatoes,' the villain turns tomatoes into humans. Let's be glad Clooney has moved on to bigger and better things.


Jeff Bridges
Nominated for: Best Actor, 'Crazy Heart'
Although his true first role was as an uncredited infant in 1951's 'The Company She Keeps,' Jeff Bridges famously played Cybill Shepherd's love interest in 1971's 'The Last Picture Show.' The film, about a small Texas town in the 1950's, won two Oscars; and earned Bridges himself the first of five nominations.


Colin Firth
Nominated for:
Best Actor, 'A Single Man'
'Lost Empires,' a televised UK miniseries that aired in 1986, starred Colin Firth as a young man who joins his uncle's traveling magic act in 1913. The series ran for seven episodes and was one of Firth's first roles.


Morgan Freeman
Nominated for:
Best Actor, 'Invictus'
In 1973, Morgan Freeman starred in this commercial for Listerine, proclaiming the mouthwash's terrible taste was actually a good thing. (Um, what?) Here, his iconic voice is used to explain how Listerine's strong flavor means it's working on your teeth. We're not sure we buy it, even if Freeman did play God 30 years later.


Matt Damon
Nominated for:
Best Supporting Actor, 'Invictus'
Matt Damon, nominated for his role in the South African apartheid film 'Invictus,' played an anti-Semitic villain in 'School Ties.' The movie, set in the 1950s, also starred Brendan Fraser as a Jewish football player at an elite boarding school who is forced to hide his religion from his classmates. Damon and Fraser weren't the only budding stars in this film -- other classmates were played by Ben Affleck, Chris O'Donnell and Anthony Rapp.


Christoph Waltz
Nominated for:
Best Supporting Actor, 'Inglourious Basterds'
Christoph Waltz steals every scene as a scarily charming and cruel Nazi, nicknamed 'The Jew Hunter,' in 'Inglourious Basterds.' That's probably why it's so weird to watch him as a love interest in this German made-for-TV romantic comedy 'The Zurich Engagement.'


Christopher Plummer
Nominated for:
Best Supporting Actor, 'The Last Station'
Fans of musical theater remember Plummer best as 'The Sound of Music's' Capt. Von Trapp, a man who's fond of whistles, dancing the Laendler and attractive nuns.


Stanley Tucci
Nominated for: Best Supporting Actor, 'The Lovely Bones'
Can you spot Tucci and his undershirted bod in this 1980s commercial for Levi's jeans? In the 'Lovely Bones,' Tucci plays a pedophilic rapist and murderer, so we feel a little weird about how adorable he looks in this ad -- bald head and all.


Woody Harrelson
Nominated for: Best Supporting Actor, 'The Messenger'
'Wildcats,' the 1986 movie about a high school football team who gets a female coach, was Woody Harrelson's second film. He played a wise-cracking football player who clashes with Coach Molly McGrath (Goldie Hawn), but he comes to love her ... because she's Goldie Hawn, and it's the law.


Mo'Nique
Nominated for:
Best Supporting Actress, 'Precious'
Mo'Nique has earned acclaim as an abusive mom in 'Precious,' but the comedienne was a funnier, more relatable kind of single mom in 'The Parkers,' a 1999 sitcom spin-off of 'Moesha' that ran for five seasons.


Anna Kendrick
Nominated for: Best Supporting Actress, 'Up In The Air'
Coming from a musical theater background, Kendrick starred as the manipulative Fritzi in the 2003 cult classic 'Camp,' about kids at a theater camp. In this clip, arguably the most famous scene from the movie, Kendrick shows off some fierce pipes for her young age. Note to 'Twilight' producers: Let the girl sing!


Maggie Gyllenhaal
Nominated for:
Best Supporting Actress, 'Crazy Heart'
Gyllenhaal played the sister of her real-life brother, Jake, in the creepy 'Donnie Darko.' This classic family dinner scene gives the film's cult fan base a few choice favorite lines -- from both Gyllenhaals. Let's hope real family meals go a bit smoother for the siblings.


Vera Farmiga
Nominated for:
Best Supporting Actress, 'Up In The Air'
Vera Farmiga co-starred with a then-unknown Heath Ledger in 'Roar,' 1997 sci-fi TV series about a young Irish chieftain in the fifth century. She played Caitlin for three years on the fantastically cheesy action-adventure show, her last role before moving from TV to film.


Penelope Cruz
Nominated for:
Best Supporting Actress, 'Nine'
Cruz co-starred in 'Jamon, Jamon,' a 1992 Spanish dramedy about the twisted romantic entanglements of a woman named Silvia. 'Jamon, Jamon' was Cruz's third film ever made and where she met future boyfriend, Javier Bardem. The film's tagline, "A Tale of Ham and Passion," probably sounded better in the movie's native Spanish.