Carey Mulligan "went blank" when she was told she had been nominated for the Best Actress Oscar.

The 24-year-old star of 'An Education' - based on an autobiographical memoir of the same title written by British journalist Lynn Barber - admitted she struggled to process the news when she received a call telling her she was up for one of the prestigious accolades.

She said: "I mean, I went blank. My head went blank. And then I screamed and started crying. It took a while to sink in. I'm still sort of processing it."

The British actress admitted she had tried her best to take her mind off the Academy Award nominations announcement, but couldn't sleep so tuned in anyway.

She explained to the New York Post newspaper: "The morning the nominees were announced I went to bed at 2.30am. I sat up and watched 'Edge of Darkness' and 'Requiem for a Dream.' My idea was to sleep through the nominations, so this way I wouldn't be nervous or disappointed. Well, what happened was my internal clock went off and I woke at five past 5. So, I figured, I might as well brave it and I tuned in."

The brunette beauty is up against Meryl Streep - along with Dame Helen Mirren, Gabourey Sidibe and Sandra Bullock - for the accolade and admits the veteran star is her idol.

Talking about her aspirations as an actress, Carey explained: "What I'd like to be is Meryl. She's rare and extraordinary. I don't want to repeat me. I want to stretch myself. I want to stretch myself. I want to do things that scare me."

The 82nd Academy Awards take place on March 7.