In this image released by Sony Pictures, Brad Pitt, left,...

In this image released by Sony Pictures, Brad Pitt, left, and Jonah Hill are shown in a scene from "Moneyball." The film was nominated Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012 for an Oscar for best film. Pitt was also nominated for best actor and Hill was nominated for best supporting actor. Credit: AP

Many of this year's Oscar nominees began their careers in TV -- some, like George Clooney ("ER") and Michelle Williams ("Dawson's Creek"), were big stars on the small screen before they went on to do feature films.

Other nominees, however, toiled in relative tube obscurity:

JESSICA CHASTAIN (supporting actress, "The Help") -- Small roles on numerous series, including "ER" (2004) and "Law & Order: Trial by Jury" (2005).

VIOLA DAVIS (best actress, "The Help") -- Numerous guest appearances, plus was part of the ensemble on the CBS medical drama "City of Angels" (2000) and the short-lived CBS legal drama "Century City" (2004), above.

JONAH HILL (supporting actor, "Moneyball") -- His second pro acting gig was a small role as a clerk in a 2004 "NYPD Blue" episode.

ROONEY MARA (best actress, "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo") -- Billed as Tricia Mara, she appeared in a 2006 episode of "Law & Order: SVU"

OCTAVIA SPENCER (supporting actress, "The Help") -- Many small guest roles, best known for her recurring role of Constance Grady, the amorous INS caseworker on "Ugly Betty" (2007).

BRAD PITT (Best actor, "Moneyball") -- Small roles on "Dallas" (1987-88), "Growing Pains" (1987, 1989) and "thirtysomething" (1989) before being cast in one of the lead roles of "Glory Days" (1990), a forgotten Fox drama.

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