The 20 stars nominated for Academy Awards this year represent some of the most talented (or, anyway, famous) actors on screen today. At one point, however, they were slack-jawed, blank-eyed, no-name novices. They’d probably like to forget their often humiliating early work, but thanks to the magic of technology, they can never escape it. From Ed Norton’s educational ESL VHS to Emma Stone’s completely mortifying renditions of pop songs on an American Idol knock-off show, so much of the early work of these nominees is jaw-droppingly bad.

Below are clips from the larval stages of each nominee’s career. Whenever possible, we’ve presented the actor’s first on-screen appearance (exceptions noted).

Actress - In a Leading Role

Julianne Moore, As the World Turns (1985-1988)

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Moore got her start on TV at 23, during the final season of the soap The Edge of Night. She played Carmen Engler, a Swiss-French girl. “She was Swiss-French because they couldn’t decide where she was from. First, I was French, then they said, ‘Well, if her father is Swiss, maybe she’s Swiss.’ So, the accent would kind of go back and forth,” she told James Lipton. That sounds amazing, and I am very sorry to say that I don’t have a clip of that to show you. I just couldn’t find one. Please accept instead this dizzying clip from Moore’s next gig on As the World Turns, on which she played half-sisters Frannie and Sabrina Hughes. In the clip above, Julianne Moore meets Julianne Moore.

Reese Witherspoon, Man in the Moon (1991)

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Witherspoon was about 14 when she attended an open casting call for Man on the Moon, in which she plays Dani Trant, who experiences her first kiss and gets hit with a belt by her father.

Marion Cotillard, Highlander (1993)

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Cotillard made her debut as a fairy described as “electric” on IMDb in the French TV series Étude sur le Mouvement. That episode is nowhere to be found online, but the year after, the 17-year-old Cotillard appeared on the cult U.S. TV series Highlander. On it, her character was raped.

Felicity Jones, The Treasure Seekers (1996)

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Jones was around 13 when she made her screen debut in the TV movie The Treasure Seekers. I skipped around this movie for a while and I still don’t know what it’s about, except a group of kids on the verge of adulthood who are quite precocious.

Rosamund Pike, A Rather English Marriage (1998)

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In Gone Girl, Pike seems American as hell, but she’s actually British. That’s good acting. She was 19 when she first appeared on screen in a bit role in the BBC movie A Rather English Marriage, which seems to be about how rather boring it is to be British. Coming over to this side of the pond was the right choice :).

Actor - In a Leading Role

Michael Keaton, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood (1975)

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In his early 20’s, Keaton worked at the public television station WQED in Pittsburgh. That led to some on-air appearances, including the one above on Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. He doesn’t say shit, though. Back then, he was still known by his birth name Michael Douglas. Can you even imagine calling him that now? What would the real Michael Douglas think? (“Who me?” probably.)

Steve Carell, Curly Sue (1991)

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Carell was 30 and credited as “Steven Carell” when he appeared as waiter Tesio in Curly Sue. He had no lines; he only had to show up and be pretty. Hubba hubba, vintage Steve Carell.

Bradley Cooper, Sex and the City (1999)

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Cooper was around 24 when he made as on-screen debut as a nicotine addict/fuck interest of Carrie’s on Sex and the City. His hair was prettier than hers, that’s how you know it wasn’t going to last.

Benedict Cumberbatch, Heartbeat (2000)

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Cumberbatch’s first on-screen work happened when he was about 24. He guested on the long-running British police drama Heartbeat, which was also about how rather boring it is to be British.

Eddie Redmayne, Elizabeth I (2005)

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Redmayne’s first on-screen work was on a 1998 episode of a British show called Animal Ark. The episode was titled “Bunnies in the Bathroom.” I am so ashamed that I could not provide that clip in this space. I just couldn’t find it, nor could I find footage of his next role in a 2003 episode of the British soap Doctors. I did find his turn in Elizabeth I, which was his first work viewable by an American audience (it ran on HBO). In it, he donned the popular Elizabethan hairstyle the mullet.

Actress - In a Supporting Role

Laura Dern, White Lightning (1973)

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Dern was 6 when she made her debut via an uncredited cameo in White Lightning. In the movie, as in life, Dern played the daughter of Diane Ladd. They’d go on to remind us of their familial affiliation again in Wild at Heart, Rambling Rose, and Enlightened.

Meryl Streep, The Deadliest Season (1977)

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Streep was about 28 when she made her debut in a TV movie called The Deadliest Season. It was about hockey and argued that hockey season is the deadliest season.

Patricia Arquette, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors (1987)

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Arquette was around 19 when she starred as a troubled teen made more troubled by the presence of Freddy Krueger in her dreams in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors. The role required her to attempt suicide and almost get swallowed by a hilariously phallic Freddy. Usually it’s the other way around when it comes to swallowing penises. At so young an age, Arquette was already proving to be a maverick.

Keira Knightley, Royal Celebration (1993)

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Knightley was around 8 when she appeared in the British TV movie Royal Celebration. It looks particularly boring, even for a British movie—even for a British movie that is excerpted in this post.

Emma Stone, In Search of the New Partridge Family (2004)

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This is absolutely the best clip in this post or any post. In it, a 15- or 16-year-old Stone (then known as Emily Stone) sings Meredith Brooks’s “Bitch” with a cheeky/serious spirit that rivals the original. She is terrifically atrocious. Look at this move!

In Search of the New Partridge Family was an American Idol-esque competition on VH1 in service of casting a Partridge Family reboot. Stone actually won the role of Laurie (she won by doing what you see in the clip above!), but the series only lasted one episode.

Here’s a bicurious duet of Pat Benetar’s “We Belong” that’s also from the series and even worse than “Bitch”:

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Actor - In a Supporting Role

Robert Duvall, Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1962)

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Before his breakthrough in 1962’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Duvall had a handful of featured roles on TV, including spots on Playhouse 90, Armstrong Circle Theater, and the “Bad Actor” episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. On that he played an actor so bad that he’s murderous. He’s around 30 in the clip above.

Ethan Hawke, Explorers (1985)

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Hawke was 14 when he and his squeaky voice starred alongside some plastic alien puppets in Joe Dante’s Explorers. Now there’s a boyhood.

J.K. Simmons, Popeye Doyle (1986)

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J.K. Simmons was 31 and known as Jonathan Simmons when he made his debut in Popeye Doyle, a TV movie spin-off of The French Connection. His character was listed as “Patrolman in the Park” and there wasn’t a single good shot of his face during his 45 seconds of screen time. And yet he persevered.

Mark Ruffalo, American Nuclear (1989)

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A 22-year-old (or so) Mark Ruffalo was shirtless during his very first on-screen appearance. Twenty-two-year-old shirtless Mark Ruffalo, what the fuck else do you need to know? (In case the answer is “something,” you can watch the entire episode of this unsold pilot on YouTube.)

Edward Norton, Only in America (1994)

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Edward Norton was about 25 when he appeared in Only in America, a VHS release intended to help teach adults English. It sounds sooooo good, but the only footage online is the trailer above, which is missing sound. The educational movie was described as the “unicorn of Edward Norton movies” by edwardnortonblog. Here’s a supposed transcript of some dialogue:

Duane: Wow! We’re here! This is New York!

Donna: New York! Oh, hi. Urn, I’m Donna, and he’s Duane.

Duane: Hi. I’m Duane. And she’s Donna. We’re from Minnesota. This is our first day in New York City.

Donna: Our first day! Come on!

Duane: Hey, the Trump Tower.

Donna: Wow!

Duane: Wow! This is an excellent hotel.

Doorman: Can I help you, sir... ma’am?

Duane: How much is a room here?

Doorman: Six hundred dollars.

Duane: A week?

Doorman: A night.

Duane & Donna: Ouch!

If anyone has footage of this (or any of the other first appearances we’re missing), kindly let us know in the comments below and/or via email (