Oscar extends warm welcome to newcomer nominees

Tue Jan 25, 2011 5:23pm EST
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Child star Hailee Steinfeld hit the jackpot with her first feature film, Australia's Jacki Weaver had to wait 40 years and Jesse Eisenberg joined the elite club of Oscar nominees on Tuesday by bringing to life the publicity-shy creator of Facebook.

Oscar's red carpet will be brimming with newcomers in February as eight of the 20 actors nominated for the movie industry's highest honors are first timers. And in close-knit Hollywood, three of the five directors competing for an Academy Award this year are also new arrivals.

"I grew up watching the (Academy) awards and never thought this would be my reality," said an elated Darren Aronofsky, nominated for directing the ballet thriller "Black Swan".

"I'm pretty freaking happy! The dog jumped over the moon. It's a very competitive year, especially for directors," said David O. Russell, another first-time director nominee for the true life boxing drama "The Fighter".

Britain's Tom Hooper, 38, better known for directing TV dramas, also makes his first trip to the Academy Awards on Feb 27, courtesy of front-runner "The King's Speech".

Proving some stars really are born overnight, Hailee Steinfeld is getting her first taste of Oscar glory at age 14, playing vengeful Mattie Ross in western "True Grit".

The California teenager had shot only a handful of commercials and TV roles before being chosen for "True Grit" from thousands of young actresses in a nationwide search.

Steinfeld said she was asleep when she was nominated for best supporting actress at dawn on Tuesday.   Continued...

<p>Director Tom Hooper poses at a screening of his film "The King's Speech" at the Grauman's Chinese theatre in Hollywood, California November 5, 2010. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>