When I first saw 12 Years a Slave, I, like everyone else, was amazed by the performance of its star, Chiwetel Ejiofor. Yet as everyone was raving about his "breakthrough" role and saying that he "came out of nowhere," I couldn't help but be distracted by one nagging thought: Isn't that the guy from Love Actually?
It turns out I was right; long before playing Solomon Northup was even a thought in his mind, Ejiofor co-starred in Love Actually as Peter, the husband of Keira Knightley's Juliet. Sure, it was a small role, but I couldn't believe that the Oscar-nominated star of this year's most acclaimed film was also featured in one of my favorite (albeit a bit less important) movies of all time. What else had I missed on his resume? A bit part in Eternal Sunshine? A cameo in Dirty Dancing?
A quick IMDB search quickly shot down those hopes, but I did discover some other surprising films I hadn't realized starred Ejiofor. And after a search on some of this year's other Oscar nominees, I soon found that Ejiofor was not alone; many of 2014's nominated actors had starred in films the public seems to have forgotten. Let's take a look back.
Nominated for: Best Lead Actor for 12 Years a Slave.
Forgotten Roles: Ellis in Melinda and Melinda, Luke in Children of Men (pictured), Peabody in Salt.
Biggest Surprise: Peter in Love Actually. I still can’t get over that.
Nominated for: Best Lead Actor for Dallas Buyers Club.
Forgotten Roles: David in Dazed and Confused, Ben in Angels in the Outfield.
Biggest Surprise: Rick in Tropic Thunder (pictured). Apparently the McConaissance started as early as 2008.
Nominated for: Best Lead Actor for Nebraska.
Forgotten Roles: Thomas in Monster (pictured), Tom in The Great Gatsby.
Biggest Surprise: Old Man Carrucan in Django Unchained. Who knew?
Image: Media 8 Entertainment
Nominated for: Best Lead Actor for American Hustle.
Forgotten Roles: Jack in Newsies, Thomas in Pocahontas.
Biggest Surprise: Laurie in Little Women (pictured). Just look how young he was!
Nominated for: Best Lead Actor for The Wolf of Wall Street.
Forgotten Roles: Jim in The Basketball Diaries, King Louis XIV in The Man in the Iron Mask.
Biggest Surprise: Brandon in Celebrity (pictured). Fun fact: DiCaprio got a Teen Choice Award nomination for “Choice Hissy Fit” for this role.
Nominated for: Best Lead Actress for American Hustle.
Forgotten Roles: Kathryn in Cruel Intentions 2 (pictured), Susan in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.
Biggest Surprise: “Gorgeous Woman” in Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny. And this was after her first Oscar nomination.
Image: Sony Pictures
Nominated for: Best Lead Actress for Philomena.
Forgotten Roles: Arabella in Tea With Mussolini, Eleanor in A Room With a View.
Biggest Surprise: Aereon in The Chronicles of Riddick (pictured). Let’s hope she got paid well.
Nominated for: Best Lead Actress for August: Osage County.
Forgotten Roles: Aunt Josephine in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (pictured), Julia in Defending Your Life.
Biggest Surprise: A cameo in Stuck on You. Yes, that actually happened.
Nominated for: Best Lead Actress for Blue Jasmine.
Forgotten Roles: Susan in Paradise Road, Lady Marian in Robin Hood (pictured).
Biggest Surprise: A cameo in Hot Fuzz. Seriously, is this a thing?
Nominated for: Best Lead Actress for Gravity.
Forgotten Roles: Diane in Love Potion No. 9, Miriam in The Prince of Egypt.
Biggest Surprise: Mary in All About Steve (pictured). I bet Bullock forgot that movie happened, too.
Image: 20th Century Fox
Nominated for: Best Supporting Actor for Dallas Buyers Club.
Forgotten Roles: William in The Thin Red Line, Angel Face in Fight Club (pictured).
Biggest Surprise: Toby in Girl, Interrupted. It looks like Winona Ryder wasn’t the only one overshadowed by Angelina Jolie when this movie came out.
Image: 20th Century Fox
Nominated for: Best Supporting Actor for The Wolf of Wall Street.
Forgotten Roles: Sherman in Accepted (pictured), Bret in I Heart Huckabees.
Biggest Surprise: Cyrus in Cyrus. Apparently, it didn’t all start with Moneyball; Hill proved he could act back in 2010, with this Duplass brothers comedy.
Nominated for: Best Supporting Actor for 12 Years a Slave.
Forgotten Roles: Stelios in 300 (pictured), Archie in Inglorious Basterds.
Biggest Surprise: Burke in Jonah Hex. We’re guessing he didn’t earn awards buzz for that role.
Image: Warner Bros.
Nominated for: Best Supporting Actor for American Hustle.
Forgotten Roles: Ben in Wet Hot American Summer (pictured), Sack in Wedding Crashers.
Biggest Surprise: Steve in All About Steve. Who would’ve thought this movie would produce two future Oscar nominees?
Image: USA Films.
Nominated for: Best Supporting Actress for American Hustle.
Forgotten Roles: Norah in The Beaver, Sam in Like Crazy.
Biggest Surprise: Elissa in House at the End of the Street (pictured). Let’s just keep pretending this movie doesn’t exist.
Nominated for: Best Supporting Actress for August: Osage County.
Forgotten Roles: Tinkerbell in Hook, Sabrina in I Love Trouble (pictured).
Biggest Surprise: Jolene in Grand Champion. A family film starring Roberts’ then-10-year-old niece, Emma, the actress had a small role — but what’s co-star Bruce Willis’ excuse?
Image: Buena Vista
Nominated for: Best Supporting Actress for Nebraska.
Forgotten Roles: Mrs. Hunsaker in Scent of a Woman, Helen in About Schmidt (pictured).
Biggest Surprise: Old Lady in The Big Year. Oof.
Image: New Line Cinema
Nominated for: Best Supporting Actress for Blue Jasmine.
Forgotten Roles: Susan in Vera Drake, Sarah in An Education.
Biggest Surprise: Miss Lucy in Never Let Me Go (pictured). Hawkins got overshadowed by the film’s main stars, but she gave a heartbreaking performance as a teacher terrified of her students’ futures.
Image: Fox Searchlight