Entertainment Weekly BEST ACTOR: GEORGE CLOONEY Michael Clayton Age 46 Role See title, above. Cutting-Room Floor Clooney's divorced ''fixer'' character originally had a girlfriend. ''We shot it with Jennifer Ehle she gave a wonderful performance,'' says Clooney. ''And the more we did it, we realized you have to isolate this character more. And having a girlfriend, he's not in as much trouble.'' Clooney wrote Ehle a note to apologize: ''I didn't cut it, but I still feel bad about it.'' Up Next He stars in his third directorial effort, the football comedy Leatherheads (out April 4). He's also wrapped the Coen brothers caper Burn After Reading, and has lent his voice to Wes Anderson's upcoming animated film The Fantastic Mr. Fox. BEST ACTOR: DANIEL DAY-LEWIS There Will Be Blood Age 50 Role Oil prospector Daniel Plainview. Method Madness ''People have such a misconception about what it is I do,'' the British actor told The New York Times Magazine of his famously immersive work ethic. ''They think the character comes from staying in the wheelchair or being locked in the jail or whatever extravagant thing they choose to focus their fantasies on.... But that's just the superficial stuff. Most of the movies I do are leading me toward a life that is utterly mysterious to me. My chief goal is to find a way to make that life meaningful to other people.'' Up Next Nothing confirmed. BEST ACTOR: JOHNNY DEPP Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Age 44 Role A tonsorial ace turned serial killer. On Sweeney ''He is beyond dark,'' Depp says of his psychopathic character. ''He's already dead. He's been dead for years.'' Finding the Look Director Tim Burton says it took some effort to keep promotional images of Depp looking as pale as they both intended, because studio executives wanted to inject more color into his face. ''It should be a warts-and-all kind of thing,'' adds Depp. ''Almost like a Kabuki mask.'' Up Next He's been keen to star in the redeemed-heroin-addict drama Shantaram for years, but with that project on a strike-induced hold, his most likely next move will be playing '30s gangster John Dillinger in Michael Mann's Public Enemies, due in 2009. BEST ACTOR: TOMMY LEE JONES In the Valley of Elah Age 61 Role Hank Deerfield, father of a missing U.S. soldier. Practice Makes Perfect Director Paul Haggis wasn't put off by the actor's tough reputation. ''I'd heard some of the stories how he could face down directors,'' Haggis says. ''But he loves to take direction. He isn't the type of person who would do two takes and say, 'Why should we do a third?' He'd keep going because he knows he can do something better.'' Box Office Blues ''Yeah, it's a disappointment,'' Jones says of the film's $6.8 million domestic gross. ''I'd like as many people to see it as possible, but heck, that's not my province.'' Up Next He plays Det. Dave Robicheaux in In the Electric Mist, an adaptation of a James Lee Burke novel. BEST ACTOR: VIGGO MORTENSEN Eastern Promises Age 49 Role Steely, secretive Russian chauffeur-turned-gangster Nikolai. Suffering for His Art Mortensen admits he was nervous shooting the famous nude bathhouse brawl. ''They say 'Cut!' I look around and I'm [naked] in a heap in the corner. You feel vulnerable,'' he says. ''But the important thing is to not compromise the scene.'' It helped that Mortensen felt comfortable with director David Cronenberg, with whom he had worked on A History of Violence. ''He's a friend, I trust him, and I don't feel exploited.'' Up Next Mortensen has wrapped Good, about the rise of Nazism, as well as Ed Harris' Western Appaloosa. He'll soon begin the big-screen adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's The Road.