12 of the Youngest Actors to Ever Nab Oscar Nominations

12 of the Youngest Actors to Ever Nab Oscar Nominations

February 24, 2019

It wasn’t her first big-time role, but Little Miss Sunshine made 10-year-old Breslin a household name, and got her a Best Supporting Actress nomination.

A child growing up in New Zealand, Paquin’s sister saw an advertisement seeking a young actress in the film The Piano. They both auditioned, and Paquin’s sister didn’t get the part, but Paquin did. Despite the fact that she had no professional acting experience, the movie and Paquin’s performance were a major success, and at 11 she went on to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1993.

Paquin would be the youngest Oscar winner of all time, if not for O’Neal, who won the same award at age 10 — just a year younger than Paquin, in 1974. She won the prize for her role in Paper Moon, which she starred in alongside her famous father, Ryan O’Neal.

Playing the iconic role of Scout Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird alongside Gregory Peck’s Atticus, Badham picked up a Best Supporting Actress nomination in 1962 at 10 years old.

Steinfeld nabbed the biggest role of her career when she was just 13 years old, as Mattie Ross in the Coen Brothers’ 2010 film True Grit, and at 14, was nominated for Best Supporting Actress — though arguably her role, as a girl searching for her father’s murderer in the wild west, was a lead part.

It’s not often that horror films get Oscar nominations — and especially rare that they get acting nominations. So when Osment nabbed one for 1999’s The Sixth Sense when he was 11, audiences took note. It takes a special kind of kid to make “I see dead people” convincing, after all.

Foster’s shift from child actor to grown-up star came with her part in 1976’s Taxi Driver. Though she was only 12 years old, she played Iris, a teenaged prostitute in the Martin Scorsese-led film, and scored her first Oscar nomination for the part at age 14. Although she didn’t win then, Foster won an Oscar 12 years later for The Accused in 1989, and again three years later for The Silence of the Lambs in 1992.

Henry, who played Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman’s son Billy in 1979’s Kramer vs. Kramer, got an Oscar nomination at just 8 years old for his part. The nomination made him the youngest Oscar acting nominee of all-time.

Thirteen-year-old Castle-Hughes is one of the youngest Best Actress nominees in history. She picked up the honor for her performance as Paikea Apirana in 2002’s Whale Rider.

The latest addition to the young Oscar nominee club, Hedges earned the honor by playing a teenager who lost his father in 2016’s Manchester By the Sea. He was 20 years old when he was nominated. “It’s just simply not real,” he told The Hollywood Reporter after the nominations came out. “It can’t be real. There’s just no way!”

When Wallis was nominated for Best Actress for her performance as Hushpuppy in 2012’s Beasts of the Southern Wild, she became the youngest-ever female actress to do so. First cast in the part when she was just 5 years old — she lied and said she was 6, the minimum age casting directors were looking at — Wallis was 9 years old by the time she received her Oscar nomination.

Ronan was nominated last year in the Best Actress category for her performance in 2017’s Lady Bird, but her first nomination came over a decade ago, for Best Supporting Actress for her role in 2007’s Atonement.

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