Adrien Brody

For years, actor Adrien Brody struggled to make a name for himself while appearing in numerous feature films. After making his debut as a 13-year-old orphan from New York City who finds a new life in Nebraska in "Home at Last" (PBS, 1988), Brody looked for that one breakthrough role that could propel him to stardom. He believed he had found that role when he was cast by director Terrence Malick for what he thought was the main character in "The Thin Red Line" (1998). But Malick changed the film's focus in post-production, leaving most of Brody's performance on the cutting room floor. The young actor remained undeterred, however, as he continued to showcase his talent and dedication to craft in several compelling features until finally landing the role of a lifetime in "The Pianist" (2002). A bittersweet look at Jewish piano player Wladyslaw Szpilman's experience of surviving the atrocities of the Krakow ghetto, the film was directed by Roman Polanski and was drawn from his own experiences during the Holocaust. The film earned widespread critical praise and a Best Actor Oscar for Brody, a win that cemented his status as a top leading man capable of turning in riveting performances.