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Both director Steven Spielberg and co-star Tom Hanks had wanted to work with the supporting actor nominee since seeing him onstage in Twelfth Night more than a decade ago. Not only did the Brit have the chops to play the stoic Russian spy at the heart of Spies, but he also bears an uncanny resemblance to Abel.
Ruffalo not only toured Boston with The Boston Globe reporter but also shadowed him on the job — "I watched him work the phones, I watched him write his stories," says the supporting actor nominee — and nailed his characterization to the point where even Rezendes' Boston Globe colleagues were amazed.
DiCaprio was intrigued by fur trapper Glass' period in American history, which he has described as "more wild than what we think of as 'the wild, wild West.' " The physical challenges of the role for the lead actor nominee included trudging in frigid temperatures in an authentic grizzly skin that weighed 100 pounds when wet.
To convincingly portray the portrait artist, Vikander had to capture Wegener's demure look — and learn how to draw and paint. "Artists took me under their wing, and I was given exercises with charcoal," the supporting actress nominee has said, adding that movies allow you to "try things you would normally never do."
Supporting actress nominee McAdams grilled The Boston Globe reporter for details about her months of investigating the Boston Archdiocese child abuse scandal. Says Pfeiffer, "She wanted to know: 'What did I wear in 2001? What did I eat? Did I eat dinner with my husband? Did I wear jewelry? How did I take notes?' "
Director Danny Boyle has praised his lead actor's ability to completely absorb the role of the Apple founder, to the point where he never saw Fassbender on set with a script. "I always thought there was something very Jobs-ian in Michael," Boyle has said. "Incredible intensity about the application of what he's doing."
The actor and the hedge fund manager first met and bonded over a nine-hour getting-to-know-you session. Supporting actor nominee Bale, known for staying in character on- and off-set, asked Burry to send him some of his own clothes, and wore sandals similar to Burry's (or walked barefoot) in his onscreen office.
Redmayne’s physical transformation into Stephen Hawking won him a 2015 Oscar, but the lead actor nominee — who calls fear of a role "a galvanizing thing" — still was intimidated about taking on painter Einar Wegener, who in the 1920s became one of the first people to undergo gender-reassignment surgery.
Playing a character inspired by the woman who invented the Miracle Mop was a task Lawrence has described as "personal Everest." The lead actress nominee had to age from a teenager to a less believable 40-something. "It was one of the hardest parts I've ever played," she has said.
Cranston resembles Trumbo about as much as he does Lyndon B. Johnson (whom he once played on Broadway), but the Breaking Bad star and lead actor nominee got a piece of the blacklisted screenwriter in other ways. "He captures Trumbo’s fire," says director Jay Roach.
Realizing she looks nothing like the real Hoffman, supporting actress nominee Winslet donned a dark-haired wig, snapped a pic of herself and sent it to producer Scott Rudin in an attempt to be considered for the role. She still didn't look like her but got the role anyway.
Capturing the role of the traitorous Fitzgerald (of whom no known historical images exist) took "finesse," director Alejandro G. Inarritu has said of supporting actor nominee Hardy. "He is so handsome, so well built, so powerful and strong, but at the same time can be extremely fragile, and that is what makes him unique."
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