Several people who have called this region home have been nominated for Oscars in the past, and we don't even have to count the legendary Alec Guinness (who won for "The Bridge on the River Kwai" and was nominated several other times, including his performance as Ben Kenobi in "Star Wars"). Sir Alec was never a voluntary resident of Hampton Roads, but he did spend a couple of days in the waters off Fort Wool during World War II when his ship got caught in a minefield.
But he was just passing through (or trying to). Here are some of the Oscar nominees who actually called Hampton Roads home, at least for a little while:
Ava Gardner – Born in North Carolina, but lived in Newport News between the ages of 7-15. Went on to a legendary acting career and broke Frank Sinatra's heart. Nominated in the Supporting Actress category for "Mogambo" (1953).
Goldie Hawn – Before she became a star on TV's "Laugh-In," she did a couple of summers performing at the Lake Matoaca Amphitheater in Williamsburg – as a dancer in "Common Glory" in 1963, and as one of the lead players in "The Founders" in 1964. She won the Supporting Actress category for "Cactus Flower" (1969), in which she plays the unlikely love interest to, yes, Walter Matthau.
Glenn Close – She cut her thespian teeth at The College of William and Mary, where she majored in theater and anthropology, starring in several stage productions. Her acting career continues to thrive. She has won three Tony Awards and three Emmys. She has never won an Oscar, but she has been nominated a half-dozen times with supporting actress nods for "The World According to Garp" (1982), "The Big Chill" (1983) and "The Natural" (1984), and lead actress nominations for "Fatal Attraction" (1987), "Dangerous Liaisons" (1988) and "Albert Nobbs" (2011).
Mark Gordon – The powerhouse movie and TV producer grew up in Newport News and graduated from Hampton Roads Academy. He is president of the Producers Guild of America and is perhaps best known for TV's "Grey's Anatomy" and "Criminal Minds." He helped develop the movie "Saving Private Ryan" (1998) before handing it off to Messrs. Hanks and Spielberg. When it was nominated for Best Picture, he was one of the listed producers. But he was denied his Oscar statuette when "Shakespeare in Love" pulled off the upset that year.
Mark Ruffalo – He was a teen when his family moved to Virginia Beach native, and he graduated from First Colonial High School. Ruffalo has emerged as one of the busiest and most versatile character actors of the past decade. He is drawing a lot of attention (and big paychecks) these days as The Hulk, but his Academy Award nomination was in the Supporting Actor category for "The Kids are All Right" (2010), when he played a sperm donor who met the lesbian couple who had his children.
And this year's nominee …
Pharrell Williams – The legendary music producer and cultural entrepreneur from Virginia Beach composed and produced the music for 2012's Academy Awards broadcast. This year, he is nominated in the Original Song category, as the composer, producer and performer of "Happy," from "Despicable Me 2" (2013). Watch the big show on Sunday, March 2 to find out if he wins.