Andrea Riseborough Says She's 'Astounded' by Surprise Oscar Nomination: 'So Hard to Believe'

Andrea Riseborough attends The BAFTA Tea Party at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills on January 14, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.
Andrea Riseborough attends The BAFTA Tea Party at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills on January 14, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.

Alberto E. Rodriguez/WireImage Andrea Riseborough

Andrea Riseborough got the surprise of a lifetime Tuesday morning.

The To Leslie star, 41, is nominated for Best Actress at the upcoming 95th Academy Awards, alongside Cate Blanchett (Tár), Ana de Armas (Blonde), Michelle Williams (The Fabelmans) and Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All at Once).

Riseborough was previously left off of similar 2023 show nomination lists, including the Golden Globe Awards, Critics Choice Awards and Screen Actors Guild Awards. And as she told Deadline following her Oscar nomination news Tuesday, "I'm astounded."

"It's such an unexpected ray of light," she continued. "It was so hard to believe it might ever happen because we really hadn't been in the running for anything else. Even though we had a lot of support, the idea it might actually happen seemed so far away."

To Leslie, directed by longtime television producer and director Michael Morris (Better Call Saul) in his feature film directorial debut, follows a single mother in Texas who "wins the lottery and squanders it just as fast," leading her to seek redemption years later, according to a synopsis shared by the Film Independent Spirit Awards.

Riseborough was one of 10 performers nominated for the ceremony's best lead performance award when nominations were released in November.

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TO LESLIE, Andrea Riseborough
TO LESLIE, Andrea Riseborough

Everett Andrea Riseborough in To Leslie (2022)

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Edward Norton and Gwyneth Paltrow are among the significant number of fellow actors who have praised To Leslie on social media, with Paltrow, 50, writing on Instagram earlier this month that Riseborough "should win every award there is and all the ones that haven't been invented yet."

"For those interested in really great acting I'll share that Andrea Riseborough's portrayal in To Leslie just knocked me sideways," Norton, 53, also wrote on Instagram regarding the film.

"It's about the most fully committed, emotionally deep, physically harrowing performance I've seen in a while," the Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery actor continued, calling Riseborough's performance "just raw & utterly devoid of performative BS."

"It's a tough but really elegant and compassionate film (by Michael Morris) where the emotion is really earned," he added in the caption, alongside three photos of Riseborough in the movie. "I happened to catch it and, wow, I was really staggered by the depth she reached. Very rare. Check it out."

SWSW Portrait studio
SWSW Portrait studio

Robby Klein/Contour/Getty Andrea Riseborough

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Riseborough told Deadline on Tuesday that she's "not entirely sure how the f--- this happened" when asked about how much support she has gotten for her performance, explaining, "After SXSW there was a quiet lull. And then slowly, as the film had a few screenings elsewhere — including at Raindance, which was a big deal because we hadn't had a release in the U.K. — we found people were starting to talk about it."

"And people were asking us, 'Why can I not go and see it? Where can I see it?' After a while, we were able to point them to iTunes and Amazon, but it didn't happen right away," she said.

The English actress also addressed the challenge of "break(ing) through the noise" but admitted, "often it's just impossible to compete with millions of dollars of advertising."

"Every year, for some reason, there are spotlights shining brighter in some places than in others, and maybe it is just all to do with money, though I try not to be cynical in that way," Riseborough said. "It has been special to feel so supported by the community — especially by actors — and to feel like the work has broken through that. It's really not something I've ever experienced before."

The 95th Academy Awards, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, will be held March 12 and televised live on ABC.