Watch these 10 Oscar nominees act in roles before they were A-listers

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Best Supporting Actor nominees

Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight

1989 Clearasil commercial

Today, he’s nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Spotlight. And that’s only the latest in a long string of recent Hollywood successes, including The Avengers and The Avengers: Age of Ultron, in which he plays Dr. Bruce Banner (a.k.a. The Hulk), Shutter Island, and Foxcatcher, to name a few. But back in 1989, a then 22-year-old Ruffalo was just a struggling, aspiring actor who took a gig for a Clearasil commercial in hopes of one day becoming a star. The clip was resurrected from obscurity during a recent appearance on The Tonight Show, where Ruffalo told host Jimmy Fallon that he got the gig because the director told him he “seemed like he came right off the street, like he didn’t know how to act at all.” Boy, were they wrong.

Christian Bale, The Big Short

Patrick Bateman in American Psycho

Many already know Christian Bale — nominated for Best Supporting Actor for The Big Short — for his role as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Or maybe you know him from 2013’s American Hustle. But one of his most impactful, earlier roles was playing the chilling investment banker/serial killer Patrick Bateman in American Psycho in 1999. Did you know that the role almost went to his fellow nominee, DiCaprio? While both are stellar actors, we can’t quite picture anyone but Bale in scenes like the charming, yet terrifying one depicted here.

Tom Hardy, The Revenant

Contestant in The Big Breakfast modeling competition

Nominated for Best Supporting Actor in The Revenant, Tom Hardy and his buff body have been in a string of hot movies over the past decade, including RocknRolla, The Dark Knight Rises (as Bane), Inception, and Mad Max: Fury Road. But did you know that he, like many actors, was a model before he broke it big in Hollywood? The London-born 38-year-old even won a modeling competition called The Big Breakfast back in 1998 when he was just a lanky, long-haired, but clearly ambitious, 22-year-old. Check out him strutting his stuff in this clip, and telling the audience who his ideal modeling partner would be (spoiler: he actually picks two!)

Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Youth in Park in The Prisoner of Second Avenue

Before he was Rocky, Rambo, and overall action star extraordinaire, Sylvester Stallone reportedly started out in soft core porn. Wait, what? Don’t worry: we won’t include any clips from that reported gig (the movie was called The Party at Kitty and Stud’s and yes, he played Stud.) But also worth noting is that the Best Supporting Actor nominee for Creed moved up slowly but surely with a number of minor roles, both credited and uncredited. He finally got his big break in 1976 after writing the script for Rocky and successfully getting it made with himself in the starring role. As we all know, the story turned into one of the most iconic film franchises of our time. But, just a year before Stallone put pen to paper to create the fictional boxing legend, he had a bit part in the movie The Prisoner of Second Avenue, playing a passer-by on the street accused of stealing Jack Lemmon’s character’s wallet. And, well, hilarity ensues.

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