Oscar Nominees: Meet My Acting Inspiration

From classic movie musicals to tough-guy stars, slide to see what fired up Anne Hathaway, Bradley Cooper and more to head to Hollywood

01 of 05

ANNE HATHAWAY

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Martin Schoeller for People Magazine

Best Supporting Actress nominee, Les Misérables
The Brooklyn-born , who has appeared in more than two dozen films, discovered her passion for performing as a teen while watching ‘s Oscar-nominated portrayal of the queen in Elizabeth. “She was so powerful,” says Hathaway, “she was death-defying.”

02 of 05

BRADLEY COOPER

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Kevork Djansezian/Getty

Best Actor nominee, Silver Linings Playbook
Though best known until recently for his shenanigans in The Hangover movies, the has long been attracted to deep, complex characters. Case in point: The Philadelphia native decided to become an actor “when I saw The Elephant Man when I was 12.”

03 of 05

AMY ADAMS

AMY ADAMS
Jeff Vespa/Getty

Best Supporting Actress nominee, The Master
She’s hopelessly devoted to acting, and it all began with a crush on a certain ’80s star in a leather jacket. , who grew up in Castle Rock, Colo., decided to become an actress “when I saw John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John in Grease. I thought, ‘To kiss him, you have to be her.’”

04 of 05

JESSICA CHASTAIN

JESSICA CHASTAIN
Larry Busacca/Getty

Best Actress nominee, Zero Dark Thirty
It was the yellow brick road that led to Hollywood. Raised in Sonoma, Calif., the actress did guest shots on TV series like ER and Law & Order before landing film roles, and tells PEOPLE she got the acting bug “when I watched Judy Garland sing “Over the Rainbow” in The Wizard of Oz.

05 of 05

ROBERT DE NIRO

ROBERT DE NIRO
Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty

Best Supporting Actor nominee, Silver Linings Playbook
Long before he started appearing on the silver screen in films such as Raging Bull and Taxi Driver, the New York-bred actor was studying screen icons at his local cinema. He tells PEOPLE he fell for acting “when I was a kid, and I used to watch Dean, Brando, Montgomery Clift.”

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