Revealed: The Arty Hobbies of This Year’s Oscar Hopefuls

Here's how Oscar nominees are spending their down time ahead of the big night.

Carey Mulligan, 2022. Photo: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for BFI.

Ahead of this year’s Oscar Awards, New York Times Magazine tasked photojournalist James Nachtwey with shooting a dozen nominees. A veteran war photographer, Nachtwey had never before captured celebrity portraits. He wanted to portray the movie stars in their own private worlds, away from the bright lights and red carpets.

To do so, he asked each actor to choose an activity that was meaningful to them. It led him to shoot Bradley Cooper doing a cold plunge, Jeffrey Wright at peace during a workout, and Emma Stone wandering the streets of New York. Among the article’s revelations are the arty hobbies that a number of Oscar nominees enjoy.

2024 EE BAFTA Film Awards - Red Carpet Arrivals

Da’vine Joy Randolph worked with Hong Kong-born London-based designer Robert Wun for her 2024 EE BAFTA Film Awards look. Photo: Samir Hussein/ WireImage.

An added blessing of Da’Vine Joy Randolph’s starring role in The Holdovers? The chance for the Pennsylvania native to flex her passion for fashion across a series of red carpet events. It’s an interest Randolph has long expressed on her social channels and for award ceremonies she takes a hands-on approach. It entails visiting fabric stores, compiling mood boards along with hair, nail, and makeup references for a chosen designer to work off.

“I’m not a good drawer, so what I’ll do is ‘Frankenstein’ it, cut and paste pictures together and create a presentation,” Randolph told the magazine. “That helps me explain to a designer how I want something to look.”

Carey Mulligan, meanwhile, was captured by Nachtwey engaging in a spot of painting, an activity she picked up on when she was researching her role in Maestro, a biopic on composer Leonard Bernstein. To play Bernstein’s wife Felicia Montealegre, Mulligan travelled to Santiago, Chile, to meet the actor’s family. There, she studied the paintings and notebooks of Montealegre, some of which she was tasked with recreating for the film.

She recalled a painting she created during the rehearsals for the film (“sort of a performance-art thing”), which she ended up destroying: “It gutted me to do it, but it kind of captured the self-destructive nature of my character as an artist,” she told the magazine.

Upon her return from Chile, Mulligan caught COVID and was required to quarantine in a hotel. Her distraction of choice? Painting. She’d already begun painting lessons and spent the period of limbo working on canvas.

And it turns out Mark Ruffalo, nominated for his supporting role in Poor Things, is as comfortable behind the camera as he is in front of it. Nachtwey’s images see the actor standing amid the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but also out on the street, photographing pigeons.

“I’ve been doing street photography on and off for about 10 years,” he explained. “I just like how it captures people naturally; when people know a camera’s on them, they immediately change their behavior.”

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