From Superbad to La La Land – 2017’s Oscar nominees, then and now

The actors and actresses behind some of the most acclaimed performances of the year are about to celebrate their success at the Oscars – but where did they start out? Take a look at the performances that launched their careers – some to be proud of, some they’d probably rather forget… 

1. Emma Stone

Then: It was 10 years ago, in 2007, that Emma Stone landed the role of Jules in Greg Mottola’s garish teen comedy Superbad. A far cry from this year’s Oscar-nominated La La Land, Superbad saw Stone play the love interest of Jonah Hill’s high school slacker Seth, and showing off her knack for comic timing.

Now: After picking up a BAFTA, a Golden Globe and a SAG award for her part as aspiring actress Mia in Damien Chazelle’s sweeping musical La La Land, Emma Stone is tipped for Oscar glory.

2. Dev Patel

Then: Dev first broke through on the small screen in 2007 via E4’s Skins, going on to find fame with his BAFTA-nominated role in Slumdog Millionaire. In Skins Patel played angsty teen, Anwar.

Now: Patel snagged the Best Supporting Actor BAFTA this month, suggesting he could be set to secure his first Oscar for his part in Garth Davis’ stylish drama Lion – the story of an Indian boy adopted by an Australian couple at the age of 5 who sets out to find his real family.

3. Michael Shannon

Then: It wasn’t until 2002’s 8 Mile that the twice-Oscar-nominated Michael Shannon began to receive widespread acclaim. Before this, he began his career playing a number of tiny roles, including this one, as a teenage background actor in the classic 1993 fantasy-comedy Groundhog Day.

Now: Today Shannon finds himself chasing his first Oscar for his performance as a maverick Texan cop in Tom Ford’s darkly seductive Nocturnal Animals.

4. Lucas Hedges

Then: Although still a relative newcomer, Lucas Hedges made his debut back in 2012 as a fresh-faced scout in Wes Anderson’s coming-of-age comedy Moonrise Kingdom. Here he is, seen atop a motorbike in characteristically quirky Wes Anderson style.

Now: All grown up and nominated for an Oscar: Manchester by the Sea signalled Hedges’ big breakthrough as he received rave reviews for his portrayal of Patrick, a 16 year-old who’s taken care of by his uncle following his father’s death.

5. Michelle Williams

Then: Michelle Williams’ very first screen appearance was back in 1993, as a 13-year-old girl in a cheesy Baywatch episode – take a look below. Everyone’s got to start somewhere…

Now: Now a four-time Oscar nominee, Williams is up for Best Supporting Actress for her understated performance in Manchester by the Sea, which NME called ‘devastatingly effective’ back in January.

6. Ruth Negga

Then: The Irish-Ethiopian actress Ruth Negga first found mainstream exposure in E4’s dark science-fiction comedy Misfits. Appearing in a supporting role in the second season (blink in the below trailer and you’ll probably miss her) as she plays Nikki, the girlfriend of one of the central characters. Like the ever-revolving cast, she didn’t hang around for too long.

Now: Negga was nominated for Best Actress at the Golden Globes and just missed out on the BAFTA Rising Star Award. Oscar-nominated for her role in Jeff Nichols’ historical drama Loving, her name is now firmly on the map – earlier this month we described Negga’s role as Mildred as “the kind of performance that can immediately vault you to the A-list”.

7. Ryan Gosling

Then: Before he became a household name and Hollywood heavyweight, Ryan Gosling began his acting life as a member of Disney’s Mickey Mouse Club. Appearing in the long-running kids variety show from 1993-1995, Gosling acted alongside the likes of Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake (as in the below clip). The child-acting didn’t stop there though, as he then went on to star in the kids horror series Goosebumps.

Now: 24 years later, Gosling finds himself Oscar-nominated for the second time in the Best Actor category, for his portrayal of a struggling jazz musician called Sebastian. (Special mention to his piano skills.)

Words: Rory Marcham