THEN AND NOW: What the 2020 Oscar nominees looked like when they first started acting

Scarlett Johansson made her acting debut in

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Scarlett Johansson made her acting debut in “North.”
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Castle Rock Entertainment/IMDb; Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
  • The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the Oscar nominees on Monday.
  • Some of this year’s contenders look much different than they did when they started acting.
  • Actors like Scarlett Johansson and Leonardo DiCaprio began their careers as child actors and have grown up in the spotlight.
  • Others, such as Cynthia Erivo and Florence Pugh, scored their nominations within ten years of their big screen debuts.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released the names of this year’s Oscar nominees on Monday, and some of the actors look completely different than they did in their early roles.

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” actor Leonardo DiCaprio has come a long way from his 1979 acting debut on “Romper Room and Friends,” and “Marriage Story” lead Scarlett Johansson has blossomed since her performance in the 1994 film “North.”

But not all of the nominees got their start as children. Cynthia Erivo, who starred in “Harriet,” became well-known in 2015 following her Broadway debut, and “Little Women” actress Florence Pugh scored her first Oscar nomination just six years after her first role on the big screen in 2014.

Here’s how all of the Oscar-nominated actors looked early in their careers.


THEN: Renée Zellweger snagged small roles in films such as “A Taste for Killing” and “8 Seconds” in the early ’90s.

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Renée Zellweger appeared in “8 seconds.”
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Jersey Films/YouTube

The Texas-born actress popped up in minor productions such as “A Taste for Killing,” “Dazed and Confused,” and “8 Seconds.”


NOW: The 50-year-old star received wide acclaim for her role as Judy Garland in “Judy.”

The Academy nominated her for best performance by an actress in a leading role for her performance in “Judy.”


THEN: Antonio Banderas made his onscreen debut in the 1982 Spanish film “Labyrinth of Passion.”

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Antonio Banderas made his acting debut in the film “Labyrinth of Passion.”
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Alphaville S.A./IMDb

The actor performed in a series of Spanish films such as “Labyrinth of Passion” and “Law of Desire” in the 1980s.


NOW: He earned his first Oscar nomination for his performance in “Pain and Glory.”

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Antonio Banderas was nominated for an Academy Award in 2020.
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Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images

The Spanish actor, who played Salvador Mallo, was nominated for best performance by an actor in a leading role.


THEN: Cynthia Erivo became known for her performance in the play “The Color Purple.”

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Cynthia Erivo played Celie Harris in “The Color Purple.”
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Broadway/YouTube

She became known for her role as Celie Harris in “The Color Purple,” which transferred to Broadway in 2015. Erivo won a Tony Award for her performance in 2016.


NOW: She’s one Oscar away from becoming the youngest person to gain EGOT status.

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Cynthia Erivo attended the 2020 Golden Globes.
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Steve Granitz / Contributor / Getty Images

The “Harriet” actress is nominated for best performance by an actress in a leading role and achievement in music written for motion pictures (original song).

She’s the third person ever to receive nominations in both acting and song categories in the same year.


THEN: Joaquin Phoenix began acting in the ’80s.

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Joaquin Phoenix took the lead role in “Russkies.”
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New Century Entertainment Corporation/IMDb

The young actor appeared in works such as “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” and “Murder, She Wrote” before securing his first lead role in the 1987 film “Russkies.”


NOW: The Academy recognized him for his work in “Joker.”

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Joaquin Phoenix starred in “Joker.”
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Getty/Frazer Harrison

Phoenix was nominated for best performance by an actor in a leading role following his work in “Joker.”


THEN: Scarlett Johansson landed her first role in the 1994 movie “North.”

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Scarlett Johansson first appeared onscreen in “North.”
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Castle Rock Entertainment/IMDb

The actress was 9 years old in her first onscreen role in the 1994 film “North.”


NOW: She received two Oscar nominations for her work in “Marriage Story” and “Jojo Rabbit.”

Johansson’s role in “Marriage Story” earned her a nomination for best performance by an actress in a leading role, and her work in “Jojo Rabbit” gained recognition in the best performance by an actress in a supporting role category.

The Oscar newcomer is the first person to be nominated in two acting categories in the same year since 2007.


THEN: Kathy Bates acted in her first feature film in 1971.

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Kathy Bates was a singer in “Taking Off.”
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Steve Lippman/Talkhouse Film/Crown-Hausman

The actress caught her big break when she was cast as a singer in the film “Taking Off.”


NOW: Her performance in “Richard Jewell” drew critics’ attention.

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Kathy Bates was nominated for an Academy Award in 2020.
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Emma McIntyre/ Getty Images

The “Richard Jewell” actress, who played Bobi Jewell, was nominated for best performance by an actress in a supporting role.


THEN: Jonathan Pryce began as a stage actor in the ’70s.

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Jonathan Pryce appeared in “Breaking Glass.”
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Allied Stars Ltd./IMDb

The British actor transitioned to the screen with performances in “Breaking Glass,” “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” “Brazil,” and more.


NOW: The actor received his first Oscar nomination in 2020.

The actor, who played Pope Francis in “The Two Popes,” was nominated for best performance by an actor in a leading role.


THEN: Joe Pesci got his start in 1976.

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Joe Pesci appeared in “The Death Collector.”
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CDS Management/IMDb

The Italian-American actor appeared in the crime film “The Death Collector” before teaming up with Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese in the 1980 movie “Raging Bull.”


NOW: He’s an Academy Award-winning actor with a history of playing intimidating characters.

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Joe Pesci starred in “The Irishman.”
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Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images

The actor, who played Russell Bufalino in “The Irishman,” was nominated for best performance by an actor in a supporting role.


THEN: Saoirse Ronan made her debut on the Irish medical drama “The Clinic.”

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Saoirse Ronan acted in the medical drama “The Clinic.”
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RTE/YouTube

The Irish actress was 9 years old when she first appeared on RTÉ’s drama “The Clinic.”


NOW: The actress has been applauded for her role in “Little Women.”

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Saoirse Ronan has been nominated for an Academy Award in 2020.
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Jason Merritt/Getty Images

She was nominated for best performance by an actress in a leading role following her performance as Jo March in “Little Women.” At 25 years old, Ronan has been nominated for a total of four Academy Awards.


THEN: Adam Driver caught his break with an appearance on ABC’s “The Unusuals.”

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Adam Driver was in the series finale of the show “The Unusuals.”
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Totally Commercial Films/YouTube

The Julliard graduate first appeared as a witness in “The Unusuals” 2009 series finale.


NOW: The actor was nominated for an Academy Award following his lead role in “Marriage Story.”

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Adam Driver attends a “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” fan event.
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Christopher Jue/Getty Images for Walt Disney Studios

The Academy nominated the 36-year-old star for best performance by an actor in a leading role for his work in “Marriage Story.”


THEN: Charlize Theron took on her first role in 1995.

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Charlize Theron made her acting debut in “Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest.”
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Force Majeure Productions/IMDb

The South African actress was cast in the 1995 movie “Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest.”


NOW: She was recognized for her performance in “Bombshell” and played the lead role of Megyn Kelly.

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Charlize Theron received an Academy Award nomination.
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Jason Mendez/WireImage

The “Bombshell” star and producer was nominated for best performance by an actress in a leading role.


THEN: Leonardo DiCaprio started acting when he was 5 years old and appeared in projects throughout his adolescence.

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Leonardo DiCaprio appeared in “Critters 3.”
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New Line Cinema/IMDb

As a young child, the actor showed early signs of comfort onscreen in “Romper Room and Friends” in 1979.

He continued to snag parts in shows like “Roseanne” and “The Outsiders” before hitting his stride in the ’90s with parts in films such as “Critters 3,” “Romeo + Juliet,” and “Titanic.”


NOW: He’s earned his seventh Oscar nomination for his performance in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

The actor’s role as Rick Dalton in Quentin Tarantino’s film scored him a nomination for best performance by an actor in a leading role.


THEN: Laura Dern got her start in films like “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” and “Foxes.”

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Laura Dern had a small role in “Foxes.”
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Casablanca Filmworks/IMDb

She had an uncredited role in “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” alongside her mother, Diane Ladd, before appearing in the 1980 film “Foxes.”


NOW: She earned her third Oscar nomination for her role as a divorce attorney in “Marriage Story.”

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Laura Dern attends the 2018 Vanity Fair Oscar party on March 4, 2018.
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Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

The “Marriage Story” actress was nominated in the category of best performance by an actress in a supporting role.


THEN: Al Pacino made his film debut in the 1969 movie “Me, Natalie.”

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Al Pacino first showed up onscreen in “Me, Natalie.”
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Cinema Center Films/YouTube

The Harlem-born actor had a career onstage prior to his first role in “Me, Natalie.”


NOW: He’s received the Triple Crown of acting with an Oscar, two Tony Awards, and two Emmy Awards.

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Al Pacino appeared in “Irishman.”

The actor, who played Jimmy Hoffa in “The Irishman,” was nominated for best performance by an actor in a supporting role.


THEN: Florence Pugh arrived on the scene with a strong performance in the 2014 film “The Falling.”

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Florence Pugh joined Maisie Williams onscreen in “The Falling.”
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Cannon and Morley Productions/YouTube

The British actress played an ill-fated student in her big screen debut alongside Maisie Williams.


NOW: She earned her first Oscar nomination at 24 years old.

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Florence Pugh appeared in “Little Women.”
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Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

The actress’s portrayal of Amy March in “Little Women” earned her a nomination for best performance by an actress in a supporting role.


THEN: Tom Hanks made his film debut in the 1980 film “He Knows You’re Alone.”

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Tom Hanks got his start in “He Knows You’re Alone.”
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Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/IMDb

In his first feature film production, Hanks appeared as a student alongside Caitlin O’Heaney and Don Scardino.


NOW: After being honored with the Cecil B. DeMille award at the 2020 Golden Globes, the actor received his first Oscar nomination in nearly 20 years.

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Tom Hanks starred in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.”
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Anthony Harvey/Getty Images

The “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” actor’s role as Fred Rogers earned him a nomination for best performance by an actor in a supporting role.


THEN: Margot Robbie appeared on “City Homicides” and starred in “I.C.U.”

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Margot Robbie had her first role on “City Homicide.”
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Southern Star Entertainment/YouTube

The Australian actress had a small role on “City Homicide” in 2008 and secured the lead in the film “I.C.U.” the following year.


NOW: The Oscar-nominated actress has shown her ability to play a wide range of characters.

The “Bombshell” actress, who played Kayla Pospisil, was nominated for best performance by an actress in a supporting role.


THEN: Anthony Hopkins was a stage performer-turned-film star who gained attention for his role in the 1968 film, “The Lion in Winter.”

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Anthony Hopkins gained attention for his performance in “The Lion in Winter.”
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Haworth Productions/IMDb

The Welsh actor established a screen presence with performances in “The Great Inimitable Mr. Dickens” and “Young Winston.”


NOW: He’s been nominated for his role as Pope Benedict in “The Two Popes.”

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Anthony Hopkins was nominated by the Academy for his performance in “The Two Popes.”
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Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

The actor was nominated for best performance by an actor in a supporting role.


THEN: Brad Pitt had his first onscreen role on the show “Dallas.”

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Brad Pitt appeared on “Dallas.”
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Lorimar Productions/YouTube

The actor appeared on several episodes of the CBS show beginning in 1987.


NOW: He’s won two Academy Awards and will chase his third win in 2020.

The “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” actor was nominated for best performance by an actor in a supporting role following his performance as Cliff Booth.