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Oscar nominees who have played Hollywood icons in their films (Images via IMDb)

10 Oscar nominees who have played Hollywood icons in their films

The Oscar awards is one of the most prestigious and well-known awards in the film industry. It is arranged annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) to recognize excellence in cinematic achievements.

The 95th Academy Awards will be presented on March 12, 2023, in a ceremony held at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles. The awards will honor films released in 2022. The event will be broadcast on US television by ABC.


This year, both Austin Butler and Ana de Armas have been nominated for roles depicting Hollywood icons. Butler is nominated for Best Actor for playing Elvis Presley in Baz Luhrmann's Elvis (2022), and de Armas is nominated for playing Marilyn Monroe in Andrew Dominik's controversial film Blonde (2022).

On that note, check out this list of actors who have done justice to the Hollywood icons they were playing and rightly received AMPAS' recognition for their efforts.

Cate Blanchett, Renée Zellweger, and 8 other Oscar nominees who shot to fame for their portrayal of Hollywood icons

1) Austin Butler as Elvis Presley in Elvis


Austin Butler has been nominated for Best Actor this year for playing the iconic American rock and roll singer Elvis Presley in Baz Luhrmann's 2022 epic biographical film Elvis, which has also been nominated for Best Picture.

Butler's critically-acclaimed performance as Elvis has already helped him in bagging both the Golden Globe Award and the BAFTA Award for Best Actor.

2) Ana De Armas as Marilyn Monroe in Blonde


Cuban and Spanish actress Ana de Armas received her first Academy Award nomination for her marvelous portrayal of American actress Marilyn Monroe a.k.a. Norma Jeane Mortenson in Andrew Dominik's controversial 2022 biopic Blonde.

Based on Joyce Carol Oates' 2000 novel of the same name, the film presents a highly-fictionalized take on the life and career of the actress, chronicling her rise to stardom, turbulent relationships, and eventual demise.

Although the film earned divisive reviews and significant criticism for its lack of historical accuracy, de Armas' brilliant raw performance garnered rave reviews and helped her earn her Oscar nomination.


3) Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe in My Week With Marilyn

Ana de Armas is not the only actor who has earned an Oscar nomination for playing popular screen legend Marilyn Monroe. In 2012, Michelle Williams clinched her third Oscar nomination for essaying the role of Monroe in Simon Curtis' 2011 biopic, My Week with Marilyn.

Unlike Blonde, My Week with Marilyn presents an overly-sanitized look at the actress during the making of the underrated 1957 film The Prince and the Showgirl. Williams' portrayal of the vulnerable icon was universally lauded, leading her to receive several nominations for many major accolades, including the Oscar, as well as winning the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress.

4) Cate Blanchett as Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator

Martin Scorsese's 2004 biopic The Aviator stars Leonardo DiCaprio as the eccentric business magnate and film producer Howard Hughes. Based on Charles Higham's 1993 non-fiction book Howard Hughes: The Secret Life, the film depicts the life of Hughes and his venture into motion pictures.

The film also explores Hughes' relationship with one of the greatest Hollywood stars, acting legend Katharine Hepburn, played by Cate Blanchett. Blanchett nailed Hepburn's distinctive voice and manner of speech and perfectly portrayed her larger-than-life persona.

This led to her winning the 2005 Oscar as well as the BAFTA for Best Supporting Actress, making her the only performer to have won an Oscar for playing another Oscar winner.

5) Barbra Streisand as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl

William Wyler's 1968 biographical musical Funny Girl is loosely based on the life and career of Broadway star and comedienne Fanny Brice and her relationship with entrepreneur Nicky Arnstein. Barbra Streisand made her film debut by portraying the Vaudeville star and was not only nominated, but also won an Oscar for Best Actress for her brilliant portrayal of the multi-talented Brice.


6) Renée Zellweger as Judy Garland in Judy

Renée Zellweger won her second Oscar for her performance as the beloved singer and actress Judy Garland.

Rupert Goold's 2019 biographical film is an adaptation of the Olivier and Tony-nominated West End and Broadway play, End of the Rainbow by Peter Quilter. The film follows the last year of the versatile actress and LGBTQ+ icon's life and career.

Although Judy Garland has never won a competitive Oscar, Renée Zellweger's excellent performance as a Hollywood icon earned her universal acclaim as well as the Academy Award, the Golden Globe Award, and the BAFTA Award for Best Actress.

7) Willem Dafoe as Max Schreck in Shadow Of The Vampire

John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe star in E. Elias Merhige's period comedy-horror film, Shadow of the Vampire (2000). The film presents a fictionalized account of the making of F. W. Murnau's 1922 horror classic, Nosferatu. The film focuses on the director Murnau, who attempted to add more realism to his vision by hiring a real-life vampire to play the titular role in his film.

Willem Dafoe essays the role of the vampire Max Schreck, who played Count Orlok a.k.a. Nosferatu in Murnau's film. His powerful performance led to his nomination for the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor.

8) Robert Downey Jr. as Charlie Chaplin in Chaplin

Richard Attenborough's 1992 comedy-drama Chaplin starred Robert Downey Jr. in the titular role. The film was adapted from Chaplin's 1964 book, My Autobiography, and film critic David Robinson's 1985 book Chaplin: His Life and Art.


Robert Downey Jr.'s incredible performance as the comic actor of the silent era was not only critically-acclaimed, but also won him nominations for the Academy Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Actor, including the winning title for the BAFTA Award for Best Actor.

9) Amanda Seyfried as Marion Davis in Mank

David Fincher's 2020 black-and-white biographical film Mank follows screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz and his development of the screenplay for Citizen Kane (1941), while dealing with the rapidly-changing dynamics of Hollywood.

Amanda Seyfried stars as the iconic American actress Marion Davies, a close friend of Mankiewicz and a long-time partner of businessman William Randolph Hearst. Seyfried's fresh and effortless portrayal of Marion Davis not only earned her acclaim from critics, but also culminated in her first-ever Oscar and Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

10) Jessica Lange as Frances Fisher in Frances

In 1982, Jessica Lange received two Oscar nominations: one for her supporting role in Tootsie and the other for her lead role in Frances. In the latter, she portrayed actor Frances Farmer navigating her turbulent life and mental illness.

Although Graeme Clifford's film was criticized for exploiting Farmer's suffering, Lange's performance was unanimously praised. This led to her Oscar as well as a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress. Though Lange did not win the title, she took home the Best Supporting Oscar for Tootsie.

Don't forget to watch the highly anticipated 95th Academy Awards 2023 on ABC on Sunday, March 12, 2023, at 8 pm ET.

Edited by
Upasya Bhowal
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