Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix

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Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix delivered critically acclaimed portrayals of the late June Carter and Johnny Cash in Walk the Line. Just about everybody—including Oprah—was talking Oscar® at the time they appeared on the show.

Sure enough, Reese and Joaquin earned Best Actress and Best Actor nominations for their performances in the film. Garnering those nominations was no small feat. In fact, Reese said that transforming herself into June Carter was the most challenging role of her career.

"It was awful," Reese said. "We had to learn how to sing."

Joaquin said he never even sang in the shower before taking the role. "Singing was completely foreign to me, as well as playing the guitar," he said. "It was terrifying."

Luckily for viewers, both Reese and Joaquin decided to stick it out and turn in two of the most compelling performances of the year. What did they have to say about the early Oscar® buzz?

"It's obviously a great honor," Joaquin told Oprah. "It's strange. Before we even started making the movie I was talking to [Director James] Mangold and I said, 'This movie has already repaid me. This process, the preparation has been so fulfilling to me as an actor that no matter what happens—whether it's considered successful or critically acclaimed—I feel rewarded."

Reese agreed. "When you make movies," she said, "You just want people to see them. I'm always shocked when more than my mother shows up! ... When people love them and take them to heart, that's the biggest reward. And everything else is icing."