You'll Never Guess Oscar Nominee Lucas Hedges' Backup Career If Acting Doesn't 'Work Out'

"If this didn't work out for me there was a time in my life when I really would've wanted to be a squash player," the Manchester By the Sea star says

Things are going pretty well for 20-year-old Lucas Hedges – he’s this year’s youngest Oscar nominee – but he’s totally prepared to take a different career path if his foray into acting goes awry.

“If this didn’t work out for me, there was a time in my life when I really would’ve wanted to be a squash player,” the Manchester By the Sea star – who is up for Best Supporting Actor – tells PEOPLE/Entertainment Weekly Network host Lola Ogunnaike on the red carpet, Sunday.

He continues, “But I don’t know if that time really exists anymore. The one thing I can really compare this to is when I came back from behind and won this massive tournament when I was like 12 years old. It was the best day of my life and something about today feels kinda like that. Similarly triumphant.”

89th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals
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In Manchester, Hedges stars as a young man who is under the care of his uncle after his father’s sudden death. Sunday marks his first-ever Oscar nomination.

“I actually think I’m getting pretty good at it,” Hedges says of tackling awards season. “I don’t know if I’m taking it all in, but I can tell you I’m really enjoying myself – which may be a sign that I’m just taking it all in.”

Still, he admits to being star struck: “The craziest thing is seeing all the other actors and that’s what gets me so excited, is to see how beautiful everyone is. Like Ruth Negga is stunning in this gorgeous red dress.

Ogunnaike teases, “Are you going to hit on her?”

“I don’t know if I have enough confidence to do that,” Hedges says of the Loving actress. “I’d probably just get really nervous and say something stupid.”

PEOPLE and Entertainment Weekly’s Red Carpet Live streaming pre-show is giving fans an inside look into this year’s Oscars. PEOPLE Deputy Editor JD Heyman and Ogunnaike, host of PEOPLE/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN’s) Entertainment Weekly: The Show, will be on the red carpet in L.A. while PEOPLE Now hosts Jeremy Parsons and Andrea Boehlke will lead the panel discussions from our N.Y.C. studio with the Time Inc. experts. And PEOPLE and EW editorial director Jess Cagle will give a behind-the-scenes look at Oscars prep.

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Watch the PEOPLE and EW Red Carpet Live Oscars pre-show on Feb. 26 at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT on the People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN). Go to, or download the app on your favorite device. Then watch our Red Carpet Fashion Wrap-Up after the Oscars!

With PEOPLE’s Oscars Fan Experience, viewers can participate by sending in videos about their favorites to win an Oscar to Through the Oscars Fan Experience Sweepstakes, hundreds of VIP subscribers will sit in front-row seats at the Oscars red carpet, followed by an exclusive viewing party right across the street from the ceremony.

The Academy Awards kicks off live on ABC on Sunday,Feb. 26, with a 7 p.m. ET pre-show and 8:30 p.m. ceremony. See all the Oscar nominees and get your own ballot here!

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