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5 Academy Award nominees in ads from the past

Felicity Jones in a commercial as a teen
Felicity Jones in a commercial as a teen

Before they were love interests, heroes, and geniuses, beloved Hollywood actors had to claw their way up the show business ladder.

For many of them, that meant finding small roles on TV or in films. Many actors, however, got their break by starring in commercials. And that includes five of this year's Academy Award nominees for acting, fully two of whom would really like you to buy some acne cream.

1) Felicity Jones for Clean & Clear

Felicity Jones is nominated for Best Actress for her role in The Theory of Everything, where she plays Jane, the first wife of Stephen Hawking. And just as she is in that movie, Jones is primarily focused on a relationship with a man in this advertisement.  But here, she isn't married to a brilliant scientist, nor is she confronting the inevitable decay of both the human body and marital affection. Instead, she's just a teen who likes a boy but is worried about having pimples:

2) Mark Ruffalo for Clearasil Double Clear

As a teen, Mark Ruffalo was also paid to be concerned about his acne. Now, he's nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Foxcatcher. The crazy visual overlaps and edits in this ad might give you a bit of a headache:

3) Julianne Moore for Mysteries of the Unknown

Instead of selling face wipes for pimples, Julianne Moore starred as a woman who had an out-of-body experience in this commercial for Time-Life's Mysteries of the Unknown, a book series about the paranormal. Some skeptical guy keeps saying he doesn't buy what she's saying, but Moore had the last laugh over her fictional antagonist. She's the prospective Best Actress frontrunner for her role in Still Alice.

4) Steve Carell for Brown's Chicken

Steve Carell's early advertising days were spent wearing a strange hat and explaining how chicken is made for this Chicago-area chain. Now he's nominated for Best Actor for his work in Foxcatcher.

5) Robert Duvall for MasterCard

Robert Duvall was already a hugely acclaimed actor by the time he filmed this spot, so we're cheating a bit. But we wanted you to see it, because of the sheer gusto with which he throws himself into his role as a MasterCard spokesperson in this 1980s commercial. Look how adamant he is about the greatness of credit! Thrill to the way he emphasizes Master in MasterCard! Perfect job, Robert Duvall. We will pretend you are nominated for this, instead of Best Supporting Actor for The Judge.

[h/t Hitfix]