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A version of this story first appeared in the Jan. 31 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Think it’s easy earning an Academy Award nomination? Not for this year’s nominees. Not only was the competition fierce, but the worlds they were asked to inhabit forced them to extremes.
PHOTOS: Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep and Other Actor Nominees Spill Secrets Behind Their Roles
Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong’o had to surrender to the injustices of 19th-century slavery, while Michael Fassbender had to live with the persona of a brutal sadist in 12 Years a Slave.
Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto faced up to impending death in Dallas Buyers Club — as did Meryl Streep as her life ebbed away in August: Osage County and Sandra Bullock as she spun out of control in Gravity. Others — like Bruce Dern in Nebraska and Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine — had to contemplate what it feels like to slowly lose one’s mind.
PHOTOS: Jennifer Lawrence, Jonah Hill and Other Supporting Actor Nominees Spill Secrets Behind Their Roles
Even those movies that elicited more laughter required their characters to take it to the edge, whether it was Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence out-conning one another in American Hustle or Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill spending a full week reenacting a drug-fueled wrestling match on the set of The Wolf of Wall Street.
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