February 2, 2010 / 8:55 PM / in 8 years

Friends Sidibe, Mulligan among 12 Oscar first-timers

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - One of the first things Gabourey Sidibe did on Tuesday morning was to send a congratulatory text message to Carey Mulligan.

Both young women were among 12 actors experiencing the thrill of their first Oscar nominations on a coveted list that sees newcomers to the Academy Awards make up more than half of the chosen few.

Sidibe, 26, and Mulligan, 24, along with “Up in the Air” best supporting actress contender Anna Kendrick, 24, are also the youngest of the bunch.

And although their backgrounds and movie roles could hardly be more different, Sidibe and Mulligan have become firm friends in a hectic couple of months of red carpets, glitzy dinners and meeting Hollywood stars that were a distant dream a year ago.

“I can’t tell you how far from reality this feels. It is completely bizarre,” said Mulligan, the British actress who plays a London school girl in the low-budget, coming-of-age movie “An Education”.

“It was the furthest thing I imagined when I did the job because it was my first movie (as a lead actress)...and we struggled to get financing and distribution,” she said.

Sidibe was a New York receptionist before being plucked from obscurity to play an obese, abused Harlem teenager, who is twice impregnated by her father in “Precious: Based on the novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire.”

Both movies first gained attention at the 2009 Sundance festival and are now also nominated for a best picture Oscar.

For other first-time Oscar nominees, like Sandra Bullock (“The Blind Side”), Colin Firth (“A Single Man”), Christopher Plummer (“The Last Station”), Mo‘Nique (“Precious”), Jeremy Renner (“The Hurt Locker”) and Stanley Tucci (“The Lovely Bones”), the journey has been longer but no less exciting.

As Austria’s Christoph Waltz, who plays a cunning Nazi officer in “Inglourious Basterds”, said of his best supporting actor nod: “It reminded me a lot of when you are a little kid, and your parents wake you up for a birthday or Christmas, or an exciting trip.”

Sidibe told Reuters it was “absolutely amazing to be named in the same category with those people I have grown up watching...And Carey Mulligan too. I texted her this morning and congratulated her.”

Mulligan shared the sentiment, saying she was as delighted by her own nomination as those of the competing actors she has come to know in recent weeks.

“It means a lot when they get nominated too, because you are all on the same train really,” she told Reuters.

Mulligan has swiftly become one of Hollywood’s hottest properties with roles in the upcoming “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” sequel to Oliver Stone’s 1987 movie, and the screen adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel “Never Let Me Go.”

She says she is still learning how to enjoy dressing up and being photographed “because it may only happen once.”

Sidibe says she adores the dresses -- especially when they come with diamonds -- but is trying not to get too accustomed to her new fame.

“I am trying not to adapt. It is more fun if I feel like an alien in the room. I think the moment I adapt to it, is the moment I get bored with it,” she told Reuters.

Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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