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LoquaciousMuse

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Loquaciousmuse was raised in Los Angeles by a family obsessed with films, tv, comics, books, music and video games. Thus, she is also obsessed with these things. So it goes.

How Traditionally Trained Are This Year’s Oscar Nominees?

For the fourth year in a row, I’ve taken a look at the education and drama training of the Oscar nominees in the acting categories. In years past, drama degrees have most often proved triumphant, but last year saw acting classes outside of college and no education beyond high school taking the biggest numbers. Where will this years research lead? Read on to find out!

Demián Bichir
Comes from a director father and actor mother and two brothers (referred to, by some, as the Barrymores of Mexico) Bichir was in his first professional play at age 3, started acting on television at age 14, and had his first lead in a play (Ah! Wilderness!) at age 17, all in Mexico. When he auditioned to train at Lee Strasberg in New York they told him he was already an actor and to save the tuition. Years later, he moved back to Mexico where he became a huge success, winning the Mexican equivalent of an Oscar. In terms of training, Bichir has said, “we had all we needed in our library at home”

College Education: None as far as I can find
Acting Training: Training through experience

George Clooney (Previously nominated twice for acting, won once)
No formal training. Attended Northern Kentucky University, then the University of Cincinnati, double majoring in History & Political Science, but did not graduate. Took classes at the Beverly Hills Playhouse.

College Education: Yes, but no degree
Acting Training: Classes

Jean Dujardin
No college education, worked in construction and in the army out of high school. Began his career with a one man show in Paris, but first garnered attention when he appeared on a French talent show. Appeared on a French comedy show before landing Brice de Nice, which made him a star.

College Education: None as far as I can find
Acting Training: No formal training

Gary Oldman
Studied at the Greenwich Young People’s Theatre, then got his BA in theater arts from Britain’s Rose Bruford Drama College. His dream was to go to RADA, but he didn’t get in, advised to pursue something other than acting after his audition. Performed in rep for years after graduating, including with the RSC.

College Education: Bachelor of Arts
Acting Training: Formal training

Brad Pitt (previously nominated twice)
Journalism major at the University of Missouri, acting in many of his fraternity’s shows on the side. Left college two weeks before earning his degree to move to LA & take acting classes, studying with Roy London.

College Education: Yes, but no degree
Acting Training: Classes and coaching

Glenn Close (previously nominated six times)
Graduated with a BA in drama and anthropology from the College of William and Mary and very soon after become a Broadway favorite. One of the only actors to receive an Oscar, Emmy and Tony nomination in the same calendar year (1984)

College Education: Double Major/Bachelor of Arts
Acting Training: Formal training

Viola Davis (previously nominated once)
Davis majored in theatre at Rhode Island College, graduating in 1988; in 2002 she received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts from the college. She also attended The Juilliard School for four years.

College Education: Bachelors Degree, MFA, and honorary Doctor of Fine Arts
Acting Training: Formal training

Rooney Mara
Spent a year at George Washington University before transferring to NYU, where she graduated in 2010 after studying international social policy and psychology. Got into acting because of her older sister, Kate

College Education: Bachelor’s Degree
Acting Training: No formal training

Meryl Streep (Previously nominated 14 times, won twice)
Uber formal training. She received her B.A. in Drama at Vassar College in 1971 but also enrolled as a transfer student at Dartmouth College for a semester before that school had become coeducational. She later earned an M.F.A. from Yale School of Drama.

College Education: BA, MFA
Acting Training: Formal training

Michelle Williams (Previously nominated twice)
Dropped out of high school in 10th grade to pursue acting and opted for a home-school program. Got her high school diploma at age 15. Moved to Los Angeles at 16, emancipated from her parents. Spent a summer in the mid-aughts performing with Williamstown in Massachusetts as part of their company

College Education: No
Acting Training: Training through experience

Kenneth Branagh (Previously nominated once for acting)
BFA from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts,  honorary doctorate in Literature from Queen’s University.

College Education: BFA
Acting Training: Formal training

Jonah Hill
Studied Drama, among other things, at the New School in New York, where he began writing plays before discovering he was interested in a career in acting, which he began pursuing immediately after graduating with 2004′s I Heart Huckabees.

College Education: Bachelor’s Degree
Acting Training: Yes, unclear *how* formal

Nick Nolte (Previously nominated twice)
Graduated from Pasadena City College, then attended Arizona State University, Eastern Arizona College, and Phoenix College. Attending college on sports scholarships, he eventually left due to poor grades and began pursuing theater. Studied at Stella Adler in LA and performed with the Pasadena Playhouse.

College Education: Yes, but no degree
Acting Training: Classes

Christopher Plummer (Previously nominated once)
Performed in high school and got experience performing on the road with the Canadian Repertory Theater. Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Western Ontario.

College Education: Did not attend
Acting Training: Training through experience

Max von Sydow (Previously nominated once)
Started a theater club in high school, then studied at the Royal Dramatic Theatre acting school in Stockholm, the foremost school for theater training in the country.

College Education: No liberal arts education
Acting Training: Extremely formal training

Bérénice Bejo
Her father was a filmmaker so she grew up watching tons of movies, every single weekend growing up, she and her sister would pick a film and watch with the family. Wanted to be an actress since she was five years old, first audition at age 17. Never wanted to have any other profession.

College Education: None as far as I can find
Acting Training: No formal training

Jessica Chastain
Acted Shakespeare all throughout high school before attending and graduating Julliard.

College Education: BFA
Acting Training: Formal training

Melissa McCarthy
Went to FIT for two years to study fashion design, but dropped out once she found her true calling – comedy. Studied at The Actors Studio and the Groundlings and did regular stand up and appeared in productions frequently in New York before moving to Los Angeles and landing Gilmore Girls.

College Education: Yes. but no degree
Acting Training: Classes

Janet McTeer (Previously nominated)
Trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. Afterwards, she joined the Royal Exchange Theater and performed at the RSC.

College Education: BFA
Acting Training: Formal Training

Octavia Spencer
BS in Liberal Arts from Auburn University, plus classes at a popular coaching studio in Los Angeles.

College Education: BS
Acting Training: Classes and coaching

EDUCATION

College Degrees: Gary Oldman, Glenn Close, Viola Davis, Rooney Mara, Meryl Streep, Kenneth Brannagh, Jonah Hill, Jessica Chastain, Janet McTeer, Octavia Spencer - 10

Non Degree Conservatory Program: Max Von Sydow – 1

College Dropouts: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Melissa McCarthy, Nick Nolte – 4

High School Through Home School: Michelle Williams – 1

Completed High School (and only high school): Demián Bichir, Jean Dujardin, Christopher Plummer, Berenice Bejo – 4

ACTING TRAINING

Formal Training in College: Gary Oldman, Glenn Close, Viola Davis, Meryl Streep, Kenneth Brannagh, Jonah Hill, Jessica Chastain, Janet McTeer – 8

Formal Acting Training Outside of College: Max Von Sydow – 1

Acting Classes/Coaches/Camp (nonformal): Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Nick Nolte, Melissa McCarthy, Octavia Spencer – 5

No Formal Training … or Nonformal Training: Damian Bichir, Jean Dujardin, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Berenice Bejo, Michelle Williams – 6

So there you have it. This year, more than any year yet, represents the biggest argument for both attending college and receiving formal training. Although if the winners go the expected route, only one of the four will fall into that category. Watch how things shake out this Sunday when we watch The Artist win everything and cry. TEAM OLDMAN/PITT!

Read past Training articles: 2011 2010 2009


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Tags: Academy awards, Acting, Education, Oscars, Training